South Mississippi Strong: Coast cookie company brings Mississippi flavors to the north

Cat Island Cookies & Crackers is expanding into the Northeast.

South Mississippi Strong: Coast cookie company brings Mississippi flavors to the north

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - Baked and packaged in Pass Christian, Cat Island Cookies and Cracker Company is getting ready to represent South Mississippi on new coasts.

Last October, the business announced its debut in the northeast market, where the artisanal snacks will be sold in stores in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

“We put love inside these cookies," said baker Tina Pruitt as she arranged a batch of snacks. “This is a cracker though, a spicy cracker. Delicious.”

Cat Island Cookie Company now has three flavors of butter cookies, three different chocolate chip cookies, and two crackers varieties. When WLOX visited the company’s headquarters, it was what bakers there called “asiago day," when thousands of spicy asiago crackers are made from scratch.

First, you mix up all the ingredients: red pepper flakes, flour, sea salt, butter, and aged asiago. Then it all goes in the cutter, which lays the dough out into ready to bake squares.

Founder Leslie Bullock says it’s a big upgrade from 2014, when her company began in a local church kitchen.

“We recently moved into our new space, which is about 10,000 square feet," she explained. "Hopefully, we can stay here for a few years!”

Leslie says her love for baking stems from watching her mom in the kitchen when she was a child.

“When I would come home from school, she always had fresh baked goodies for us, and I thought everyone went home to that. But apparently not everyone was that lucky," she said.

She eventually dived into the culinary world, becoming a pastry chef in New York. When she and her husband divorced in 2010, she moved back to Mississippi as a single mother.

As a mother, she was concerned about her kids' nutrition.

“It was, you know, five years after (Hurricane) Katrina hit, so a lot of grocery stores hadn’t come back. And there weren’t a lot of options for what you can get for snacks,” she explained.

She decided to use her experience to make a snack option that tastes good and is good for you.

“You don’t want to see anything that has words you can’t pronounce," she explained. "People are really paying attention to labels these days. They’re really paying attention to what they’re putting into their bodies.”

Leslie created Cat Island Cookies as her way of paying homage to the area she grew up in. Each bite-sized snack spells out her love letter to the Coast.

“I would also say thank you for being so strong and showing the rest of the world how to bounce back from adversity like Katrina. And how to grow and how to step up to the plate and really start producing some fantastic products,” she said.

What’s next for the ever-growing Cat Island Cookies & Cracker Company? Leslie says her next step is making sure people across the nation can get a taste of South Mississippi.

To find out where Cat Island Cookies are sold, go to the company’s store locator page.

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