Without Purpose, What is Life? BenjeeS Cookies Returns with Resilience to the Monadnock Region

Without Purpose, What is Life? BenjeeS Cookies Returns with Resilience to the Monadnock Region



By Susan McNeil/Photos by Sarah Brinson Oct 19, 2023

Benjamin and Sarah Brinson are a team, the For Better or Worse kind of life partners whose triumph over adversity is not surprising. An unstoppable commitment to one another and their big idea, BenjeeS Cookies, might have gone quiet for ten years but has now been reborn with the promise of sweet success.

BenjeeS Cookies launched in Keene in 2014 and made its mark with 18 flavors of extra-large, extra-soft, scratch-baked cookies. Holding one of their 3” orbs in your hand, coupled with unusual flavors like Maple Bacon Molasses, Double Chocolate Cherry and Lemon Basil Potato Chip, creates an irresistible urge to rediscover the undeniably happy childhood response to all things cookie.

Initially, their division of labor allowed Sarah to provide a dependable income. Benjamin ran the business and baked the cookies while Sarah worked full-time and served as assistant. And things were going quite well, especially considering that the power of Facebook was nothing like today. Old-fashioned word of mouth was testament enough to invite new patrons to desire offerings from BenjeeS.

But in 2015, Benjamin injured his elbow and subsequently required surgery in March 2016. This unexpected interference necessitated that the business go on hiatus just as it was beginning to gather steam. Although the team anticipated a return to their promising beginnings, they never dreamed it would take ten years.

An unfortunate surgical outcome meant that Benjamin was unable to continue building the business as he sought a diagnosis for constant pain over the following three years. Having to push for medical care, he was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which causes widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, insomnia, memory and mood disorders as well as mental health struggles. Determined not to take pain medication he tried to overcome his new daily reality, but finally accepted the fact that chronic pain would be a cornerstone of his life and went on full disability.

While Benjamin struggled, unable to work, Sarah continued her commitment to the corporate world. But at the ten-year mark of Benjamin’s illness and considering his discouragement and limited ability on any given day, Sarah decided it was time for a life-altering change. Given the courage of her devotion, Sarah left her job in August to support the dream of resurrecting BenjeeS Cookies as a full-time partner.

Cookie magic happens in the commercial kitchen of Elm Street Market in Keene, owned by the Binney family who has supported BenjeeS since 2014. A personalized grassroots approach has been very successful for BenjeeS, selling out of a tent on the corner of Emerald and Main Street as well as offering delivery within the city. But when cold weather arrives, the plan is to have the Mobile Bakery and Kitchen ready by December 1st. Until then, find BenjeeS on their usual corner of Emerald and Main Street.

As exciting as it is for BenjeeS Cookies to be back in business, the life-changing decision has given Benjamin new purpose and hope while living with constraints. On good days, Benjamin dons a white coat as the head cookie chef for BenjeeS. But on the days when his chronic conditions are debilitating, Sarah takes over all aspects of the business from baking to distribution while leaning on his strengths as the creative genius behind BenjeeS Cookies. Once again, Benjamin is able to participate in the business according to his limitations on any given day, while Sarah serves as back-up when the need arises.

Living with Benjamin’s chronic physical limitations has spurred the team to consider another idea for the future: a community kitchen space for people living with all kinds of disabilities. “Once we obtain a brick and mortar, we are looking to build out a kitchen accessible to people with physical limitations including wheelchair access and equipment to help automate certain tasks which we can be shared with the public.”

The unique flavors of BenjeeS Cookies include 18 options of soft 3” cookies that can satisfy every palette: Classic Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chip w/Walnuts, Double Chocolate, Double Chocolate Cherry, Chocolate Chip Jalapeño, Classic Potato Chip, Lemon Basil Potato Chip, White Chocolate Macadamia, Snickerdoodle, Classic Peanut Butter, Toffee, Oatmeal Raisin, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Banana Nut, Maple Bacon Molasses, Classic M&M, Reese’s Peanut Butter, and Sweet Curry & Cardamom.

Benjamin is grateful for this opportunity to renew his life and business. “Being involved in meaningful work is important for quality of life, beyond just being able to pay bills. I want to educate people on the myth that disability is always visible in some way and push back on the idea that if you cannot function in regular full-time employment that you have nothing to offer. All it takes is a little support and flexibility.”

To contact BenjeeS Cookies: www.benjeescookiesnh.comcookiesbybenji@gmailcom, Instagram and Facebook. Call or text to order at 603-719-8883. Watch for mail order subscription boxes availability in Spring 2024.

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