CustoCookie wants you to have it your way

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Claire Lowe /Brooke D’Angeli of Las Vegas, Nev. purchases a box of sqookies from CustoCookie owner Diane Hastings, with co-owner Ray Hastings in back. Claire Lowe /Brooke D’Angeli of Las Vegas, Nev. purchases a box of sqookies from CustoCookie owner Diane Hastings, with co-owner Ray Hastings in back.

OCEAN CITY — If you could create any cookie, what would it be? What would you put on top and inside? Would there be icing? Chocolate chips? Candy?

Thanks to the recently opened CustoCookie in downtown Ocean City, your creation can become a reality. CustoCookie, which opened Memorial Day weekend at 825 Asbury Ave., specializes in custom cookie creations.

Customers can order in person, online, or by phone for batches of their custom treats, or they can come into the store to create their own cookie on the spot with the three different flavored cookies, icings and a dozen toppings.

CustoCookie is the brainchild of Ray Hastings, 29, and his mother Diane Hastings, 54, of Haddon Heights. Ray Hastings was a minor league baseball player in Texas and his mother operated a daycare business from her home for 25 years prior to opening up shop in Ocean City.

It was when Ray Hastings was injured, taking him out of the game, that he and his mother decided to try a new business venture. Claire Lowe /CustoCookie owners Ray and Diane Hastings hold up a tray of sqookies inside their new Ocean City storefront. Claire Lowe /CustoCookie owners Ray and Diane Hastings hold up a tray of sqookies inside their new Ocean City storefront.

“My mom had been baking cookies ever since I was a little kid,” Hastings said. “She was using them as gifts for the holidays.”

Eventually, friends began asking Diane to make the cookies as gifts for their friends.

It wasn’t unusual for Ray to help his mother in the kitchen, he said, where he observed her process and learned her recipes.

“We started off as an Internet business where you can create your cookies. You pick a dough, add your ingredients, and we baked them and we packaged them and shipped them all throughout the United States,” Ray Hastings said.

The Internet company launched two years ago, he said.

A unique twist to the business was the idea to have square cookies, which the Hastings’ call a “sqookie.”

“That was one of the things that we thought about in the very beginning,” Ray Hastings said. “Something that we need to separate ourselves from other companies.”

“We were just throwing ideas out there of how it could be different from any other business,” he said.

To fill their orders, the pair started baking out of a small store in Haddonfield. Since the storefront was attached, they utilized it to sell their goods.

“We thought that there was enough interest to make it a storefront, so go Internet and storefront,” Hastings said. “We decided that Ocean City was the best place to start because of all the traffic in the summertime and having a house here made it easy.”

The Hastings’ have been vacationing in Ocean City since Diane was young, she said. They have a house on 36th Street where they live all summer.

When a space became available on Asbury Avenue, they moved their entire business to Ocean City, leaving the Haddonfield store.

“Were able to bake all of our online orders here now,” Ray Hastings said.

The way it works is simple: choose a dough and ingredients, and the order is baked and shipped to your house.

There are three flavors of dough: butter, classic and chocolate.

“Those were the three doughs that my mom had really perfected her recipes for,” Ray Hastings said.

The ingredient options are vast, from candy, to dried fruit, to nuts, but there is a limit of five ingredients per batch of sqookies.

Claire Lowe / Monica McKnight, 6, of Garnett Valley, Pa.; McKayla Burnett-McBride, 8, of Garnett Valley, Pa.; Izzy Lockstone, 8, of West Chester, Pa.; and Myah McKnight, 4, of Garnett Valley, Pa. enjoy the sqookies they created at CustoCookie in Ocean City. Claire Lowe / Monica McKnight, 6, of Garnett Valley, Pa.; McKayla Burnett-McBride, 8, of Garnett Valley, Pa.; Izzy Lockstone, 8, of West Chester, Pa.; and Myah McKnight, 4, of Garnett Valley, Pa. enjoy the sqookies they created at CustoCookie in Ocean City.

The storefront also offers a create-your-own station for on-the-spot sqookie creation.

Customers come and choose from the pre-baked plain cookies in classic, chocolate or butter cookies. Then, they choose the icings: white chocolate, milk chocolate or peanut butter. Finally, they add ingredients from the ingredient line, where the options are switched up regularly.

“There’s always at least 10,” Ray Hastings said.

If a customer isn’t feeling very creative, or is in a rush, they can choose from the at least nine pre-baked varieties of sqookies in the display case.

“They’re just all of our best sellers,” Hastings said.

Best sellers include: the s’mores with marshmallow topping, graham cracker pieces and chocolate chunks; the classic chocolate chip; the candy bar, which is a chocolate cookie with Twix, Kit-Kat and Butterfinger; and the Pretzel M&M, which has a chocolate base with pretzels and M&Ms baked in.

Right now, Hastings said the storefront is open 10 a.m.-9 p.m. daily, and will be open weekends after Labor Day through October.

He said that online ordering is available all year.

“CustoCookie.com is going to be 365 days a year, you can order from,” he said.

Online orders range in price depending on the toppings.

The cost is $2 per pre-baked sqookie. A half dozen costs $10, and a dozen costs $20. CustoCookie also offers cookie trays, as well as delivery to the boardwalk.

Claire Lowe /A large chalkboard at the front of the store tells customers what their options are. Claire Lowe /A large chalkboard at the front of the store tells customers what their options are.

In addition to sqookies, the CustoCookie storefront offers coffee and ice cream, Jones Soda and Stewarts, Bai5 and water.

Hastings said the response so far has been positive.

“It’s been very good. Anytime you open a business you never know what’s going to happen,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate where we have a good Facebook and Twitter following.”

“Word of mouth has really done well for us,” he said.

Hastings said his favorite thing about operating a business is “seeing everybody happy.”

“Everyone seems to really enjoy the experience of creating their own cookies or coming in and choosing them out of the case,” he said. “It’s a nice experience and time out for them.”

“It’s been fun,” Diane Hastings said. “It’s been a while getting to this point, but it’s worth it.”

For more information, see www.custocookie.com.

Claire Lowe /A book of create-your-own sqookies from CustoCookie. Claire Lowe /A book of create-your-own sqookies from CustoCookie.

Claire Lowe /CustoCookie opened on Asbury Avenue in Ocean City Memorial Day weekend. Claire Lowe /CustoCookie opened on Asbury Avenue in Ocean City Memorial Day weekend.


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