As soon as you throw open the heavy glass doors of the Kings Plaza mall, the thick, heady scent of warm cookies travels past the coffee and down the expansive halls to greet you.
That glorious aroma beckons you to join the countless people already lined up at The Cookie House’s high counter, ordering cookies by the pound. Everyone from long-time customers to newbies gather around the classic cookies, delicious brownies, unique pretzels and yummy smoothies.
The Cookie House is so distinct, so familiar, so ingrained that many can’t leave Kings Plaza mall without having at least a bag of the famous cookies to take home and fight over.
“It was a high school staple. We would hop on the B46 directly to Kings Plaza at least three times a week,” said Brooklyn native Solianda Young, 46. She said she would “bee line straight to the cookie house to share … hot, gooey cookies.” Although the lines were sometimes long, she described the scene as “definitely one of the happiest memories of my youth.”
The 1970s saw an emergence of many food related trends, such as granola and Famous Amos cookies. Convenience was the name of the game, and a whooping 34 percent of the average household’s food budget was spent on snacks and eating out.
The Capone family opened the business in 1978 and Neil Capone has kept the tradition going strong in the heart of the mall. Unlike chains such as Famous Amos, the Cookie House has just one location. That can mean a lengthy trip to reach it but for many people the Cookie House is worth the effort.
“I know I gained a lot of weight at first,” said Cupid Williams, a Street Talk employee, the neighboring stall directly in front of the bakery. To him, the Cookie House peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies are the best recipe in Brooklyn.
Assistant Manager Shonetta Ord said there is no hidden secret to the store’s success. The bite-sized, warm cookies, which are sold for $6.95 per half pound, are made using the same recipes as when the story first opened. They’re constantly baked fresh in the store oven, which adds to the hefty cookie aroma that spills over the open counters.
“The smell they create is more a memory. There’s just something about a sack of fresh baked cookies, and I love how the cookies go all in one bag,” said Paul Velez, 25, a longtime Sheepshead Bay resident.
Options aside from cookies include a variety of pretzels. The sweet ones include cinnamon sugar and almond crunch, in full-size or sticks. There are regular or salted, and savory breaded hot dogs, with pepperoni or jalapeños. In addition, there are brownies and smoothies, as well as popcorn, cakes, cupcakes, and cheesecakes.
When the store first opened, they used to serve cookies in cones. The decor and brand, apart from the cones to printed paper bags, really hasn’t changed. The signature bright orange sign has hung over the bakery since it was just a kiosk in the center of the mall.
“It was very popular then,” said Anderson Long, a retiree who can remember The Cookie House in its early days, “They gave you a cone. It wasn’t expensive back in those days, it was like 25 cent a bag. It was always busy. Always.”
The lines haven’t died down over the past 39 years. Even on a Wednesday at 8 p.m. when the mall is set to close soon and all but deserted, customers happily gather around the familiar cookie store in the middle of Kings Plaza.