Feb. 12, 2007

Kenny B's manager is an expert cookie maker

By Linda Scherer
Staff Writer

Working at Kenny B’s Cookie Company in New Germany is a sweet job for its new manager, Sam Barron, a 2006 Holy Trinity graduate.

Sam is an expert when it comes to mixing batches of cookie batter because he has been making cookies there since he was in sixth grade. He just recently became manager of the cookie factory and is enjoying his new position.

Kenny B’s was purchased as a part-time business about 10 years ago by Sam’s parents, Kenny and Mary Barron, and a family acquaintance Tim Kraft. Kraft, who owns other businesses, left the Barron family in charge of operations and production of the cookie business.

When the cookie company was first purchased, Kenny and Mary lived in Richfield, with their seven boys, David, Benjamin, Spencer, Sam, Billy, Joe, and Jesse (their daughter, Leah, was born a few years later).

Every Saturday, Kenny would bring three or four of his sons with him to New Germany to bake the famous Italian Biscotinni cookies.

Sam remembers those Saturdays beginning at 4:30 a.m., which was plenty early for a sixth grader. They would work at the cookie factory all day, baking about 75 dozen Italian Biscottini cookies, and head back home around 4:30 p.m.

Sam said those Saturdays seemed long, but he liked getting paid, too.

In 2001, both Kraft and Kenny wanted to make the business full-time and they decided to buy the Award Baking International company located on Stinson Avenue in northeast Minneapolis.

All of the equipment from Award Baking in Minneapolis was moved to New Germany, after Kenny B’s was completely remodeled. Along with new floors, ceilings, and lighting, an air conditioning unit was put in, and all new ductwork was added and inspected to provide the production area with a proper temperature for baking.

While they were remodeling, they made room for the equipment needed to bake their now most popular cookie, the Austrian Oblaten cookie.

When Sam was a sophomore, his parents and their, now, eight children, moved from Richfield to Winsted, and Sam began attending Holy Trinity High School.

With Sam living so close to Kenny B’s, it was easy for him to work more hours at the cookie factory, including during the summer. That gave him the opportunity to learn even more about the business.

Kenny and Mary sold their half of the cookie business to Kraft in 2004. Kraft, who lives in Chanhassen, began overseeing the cookie company. He does all of the billing and Sam reports directly to him.

Sam likes the responsibility of being manager. His job is dealing with customers, answering the phone, invoicing, and he oversees production of two shifts, making sure there are enough cookies made each day to fill orders.

There are seven people working each shift: two bakers, two people cutting wafers, two fusing the wafers, and one production lead.

The first shift works Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the second shift works the same days from 3 p.m. to 1 a.m. On Friday, there is only one shift, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Kenny B’s two main distributors are TJ Maxx and Marshalls. Lunds and Byerly’s also distribute Kenny B’s cookies.

Winsted Floral, in Winsted and Cliff and Molly’s, across the street from Kenny B’s in New Germany, carry the unique melt-in-your-mouth wafer cookie, too.

The Oblaten cookie is two thin wafers fused together with sprinkles, giving it its flavor. It comes in vanilla almond, lemon, cinnamon, caramel, chocolate, and vanilla almond dipped in chocolate.

The Biscotinni is a soft Italian cookie, a little smaller than the size of a walnut, with a glaze which is poured over the top. It comes in five flavors: almond, anis (black licorice), lemon, vanilla, and orange with fudge.

Sam, an easygoing and friendly young man, is hopeful that the cookies will continue to sell and wants to add new customers to the current list of distributors.

Just as Kenny B’s has become part of New Germany, Sam feels that he, too, will become part of the neighborhood in New Germany, and he is looking forward to getting to know his neighbors.

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