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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Hands in the cookie jar

  • Rolla native Dana Hotaling comes from a long line of family bakers. The tradition started with Grandma Thelma and then was passed down to her mom. Now, it's Hotaling's turn to carry on the family custom.
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  • Rolla native Dana Hotaling comes from a long line of family bakers. The tradition started with Grandma Thelma and then was passed down to her mom. Now, it's Hotaling's turn to carry on the family custom.
    Cookie recipes have been the language spoken in this family from one generation to the next. For the most part, this language has been understood with ease, except for one recipe that no one could translate — Grandma's chocolate chip cookies.
    "Her recipe was so hard to decipher. It was a smidgen of this and a heaping of that," Hotaling said.
    She added her own secret twist to that recipe and started selling her cookies at her sister Donna's store, Frieda's Closet, on Forum Drive.
    "I began there and then I started to get all these orders," Hotaling said. "I was getting requests from offices and parties. People like cookies but do not like to make them."
    Word-of-mouth served as her marketing strategy until 2005. It was then that Hotaling got a business license and opened Dana's Cookie Jar which she runs out of her kitchen at home.
    "Cookies are something that I have always enjoyed doing. It is more of a therapy than anything else," she said." The holidays were always a busy time with mom and all of us in the kitchen."
    Starting with chocolate chip cookies, she branched out to snickerdoodles and oatmeal raisin and several breads and cakes.
    One of her favorites is a gooey butter cookie she calls the "John Boy."
    "I named it that in honor of Greg John, owner of John's Firestone in Rolla. He was telling me about a gooey butter cookie he had as a kid and I was able to put something together for him," Hotaling said.
    John's Firestone, she noted, was one of her biggest supporters during her inaugural "Cookies for a Cause" fundraiser which took place this past March.
    For one week, the proceeds from cookies purchased at John's Firestone and several local businesses went to benefit the Joy of Caring Cancer Fund at Phelps Regional Health Care Foundation.
    She surprised herself by raising close to $546 for the cancer fund. She thought $200 would be a good start.
    She is planning another Cookies for a Cause week this October.
    "My aunt died from breast cancer as well as my dad," said Hotaling. "So Cookies for a Cause is my way of giving back."
    As they were years ago with her family, the holiday season is still her busiest time. She told the Daily News that during the week before the Christmas season, her oven was on 24 hours for several days.
    "That week I made 240 dozens of cookies," she said.
    She has her eyes set on opening a bakery, perhaps in St. James. In the meantime she is plenty busy with filling orders from her website, from Facebook and from what she calls "taste-amonials."
    Page 2 of 2 - "The local people are amazing," she said regarding the amount of business they bring her way.
    In the meantime, she is pleased that her family's cookie tradition will continue. Her granddaughter is wanting to follow in her footsteps.
    "Her name is Haylee, and she is amazing," Hotaling said.
    As for Grandma's chocolate chip recipe, no one has yet figured out her secret ingredient.  
    "Let's keep it that way," said Hotaling with a smile.

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