With so many delicious dessert options around the South, it can be difficult to stand out in the cookie mix. But, the HiFi Cookies team makes it look easy. With unique confections like Fruity Pebble marshmallow creme cookies and Cosmic Brownie-inspired treats — all named after music greats — this “edible nostalgia” empire is taking the South by storm.
For HiFi Cookies owner and creative mastermind Sean Newsome, the company represented an opportunity to combine his two loves: cookies and music — a duo perfectly suited for the Music City headquarters. A New York native, Sean came to Nashville in 2014 with his wife Kristin for a last minute birthday trip and fell in love with the city. They decided to move there that same year and opened HiFi Cookies just two years after that. Since then, HiFi has reigned supreme in the Nashville dessert scene. Kristen describes herself as the “support system” behind HiFi Cookies, helping make deliveries and working at pop-up shops outside her cosmetology career. As for Sean, cookies are a full-time job.
Growing up, baking played a big role in Sean’s family. He credits his mother and grandmothers Ida and Matha with teaching him how to cook. He says, “My Grandma Matha makes the best cornbread above the Mason-Dixon, and she showed me how to [make it] when I was 10.” When asked about the most nostalgic recipe from his childhood, Sean has trouble choosing between his mom’s almond cake and his Grandma Ida’s sweet potato pie. We can’t imagine why!
Baking was less prominent in Kristen’s childhood, but cookie dough holds a fond place in her heart and memory. “We weren’t big bakers in my family,” Kristen admits, “but we did love us some pre-made cookie dough that didn’t always make it into the oven.” Launching HiFi Cookies alongside Sean and helping him craft batches of creative confections has made her realize just how much actually goes into baking cookies from scratch. “To see the skill and precision that Sean puts into all of his cookies is incredibly impressive,” Kristen notes.
Before opening HiFi Cookies, Sean brought his love of baking to popular Nashville restaurant Pinewood Social, where he served as the General Manager. When the staff got together for family meals, Sean would bake batches of his cookies, prompting staff members to say, “You should sell these!” Sean eventually decided to test their suggestion and dropped off a batch of cookies at a local coffee shop, effectively jump-starting HiFi Cookies. “I thought the idea was crazy,” Sean notes, “but a year and a half later, we are up to 10 accounts. We have had the opportunity to work with some incredible Nashville-based businesses and worked with Jeni’s Ice Cream on a line of ice cream sandwiches.”
When it comes to creativity, HiFi Cookies takes the cake. Their most popular cookies of all time include the “Etta,” a peanut butter cookie with Cap’n Crunch brittle and peanut butter chips, and the “Bowie,” a Funfetti cookie with white chocolate chips. The craziest cookie they’ve ever created? A whiskey and Coca-Cola cookie custom made for a HiFi client. They have even had requests for bacon to be added to cookies, but they draw the line on incorporating meat. And in no surprise at all, Sean tells us that the secret to making an amazing cookie is not being scared to get a little crazy. “Mess up. Make mistakes. But always write down what you did right or wrong,” he says. “The one thing I do very differently than my family is measure out every ingredient in grams and document any changes. My grandmas can eyeball a cup of flour with no problem and get it right every time. I cannot, and I like to be as accurate as possible.”
One of the first cookies Sean ever made — and his favorite HiFi cookie of all time — is the “Marvin,” a pretzel and potato chip cookie with chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and toffee, which is named after Sean’s favorite musician, Marvin Gaye. Sean describes it as “the perfect balance of salty and sweet.” Unique treats like these are what have catapulted HiFi’s success and popularity and made them the sought-after cookies that they are.
Down the pipeline, you can expect to see plenty of new and delicious creations from HiFi. Kristen is especially excited for summer to roll around so HiFi can begin selling ice cream cookie sandwiches again. “We have done a couple of collaborations with Jeni’s [Splendid] Ice Creams and The Soda Parlor, but [Sean] has plans to make a version of his own.” Sean is also excited to offer both 100% gluten-free and 100% vegan cookies. A popular ask, the recipes have been perfected for their eager customers. With just a few details left to hammer out, these will be launching soon.
Ultimately for Sean and Kristen, it’s all about the people. From specific flavors to dietary restrictions to delectable creations sure to please, consumers are at the heart of each decision and each cookie. Kristen’s favorite thing about HiFi Cookies? “Seeing people go crazy after tasting just one bite of a cookie that I have seen Sean put so much work into.” Sean echoes this sentiment, adding, “I love how people react to our cookies — the way their faces light up when they try one for the first or 100th time is incredible to me.”
Thank you, Sean and Kristen, for delighting us with your beautiful and delicious HiFi cookies!
SPECIAL HOLIDAY ALERT! You can shop two different HiFi cookie boxes, one consisting of their bestsellers and one with special fall-themed cookies now in SB Shop! They are perfect to send to friends and family during the holidays or to bring as hostess gifts to a seasonal soirée. And, if you have a son or daughter studying for finals, these are just the pick-me-up treats they need! Orders must be placed by December 19, 2018, for delivery by Christmas!
For more of the best of the South — straight to your inbox — subscribe to StyleBlueprint here!