CORTLAND, Ohio (WKBN) – Making and selling pizzelles for a living, and being so successful that she had to expand, the owner and creator of a gourmet Italian cookie shop explains how in nine years she’s now in her third and largest location.
On Thursday along Main Street in Cortland, the Trumbull County Commissioners helped cut the ribbon for the new home of Just Pizzelles.
Who would have thought someone could build a business around pizzelles? An Italian wafer-like pastry, common around Youngstown.
Christina Benton knew it would work, she just didn’t know how big it would get.
Just Pizzelles’ new home is across the street from its second location and a long way from Benton’s kitchen, where it all began.
Benton showed off her assembly line of pizzelle irons on Thursday, where on a busy day six people would be lined up making them.
“We’ve checked in to doing like an industrial type of irons and things. Honestly, for the expense, for the cost, for the production, the efficiency, this is the best,” she said.
Also on the counter of irons was a custom made pizzelle iron for Western Reserve Title and Escrow of Boardman, which Benton had made by a tool and die company. She also has a pizzelle iron specific to Rotary International.
“We’re the only ones licensed in the world to do Rotary pizzelles,” she said.
While the manufacturing space has quadrupled, Benton has also expanded the retail space.
She started with 13 flavors. Today, there are 90, including the best-selling margarita — lemon-lime flavored rimmed with sugar and salt.
Her first year she made 8,000 pizzelles, last year it was 100,000.
Business has increased 20% every year, 75% of which comes from online orders.
The size of one of her pizzelles is about half that of a traditional pizzelle.
“I wanted it more upscale, a little more gourmet. It is a unique, niche thing,” Benton said.
But, selling pizzelles has not been easy. It has taken some work.
“Not everyone knows what a pizzelle is, so it’s also a little bit of educating we have to do or get a following, build up our brand. So it’s not just about the cookie itself but we really have to get out there and put ourselves out there,” Benton said.
For the traditionalists, Just Pizzelles makes ones with anise.
Also, about a year ago, Just Pizzelles made its own brand of coffee. New this year are Just Pizzelles candles, one of which is anise-scented.