MSU’s Favorite Late-Night Bite

It’s midnight on a cold December night— the wind whistles through the cracks of my window, a crescent moon shines above as twinkling Christmas decorations light up the dark city streets, and I’m sitting shotgun on my first ride-along.

But this isn’t the kind of ride-along you’re thinking of. There’s no police. There’s no bad guy. What there is, however, is about a dozen hot cookies in the backseat, filling the car with the sweet aroma of melted chocolate and rich caramel. It’s a scent Yankee Candle could only dream of capturing, and it’s all thanks to Northern New Jersey’s new late-night cookie delivery service — Milk N’ Cookies.

An array of cookies from Milk N’ Cookies. From left to right: the Birthday Cake Cookie, the Red Velvet Nutella Holiday Cookie, the Oreo Chocolate Chip Cookie and the New York City Cheesecake Cookie. | Photo by Sarah Vazquez

Founded by Belleville native Ali Hajihaidari, Milk N’ Cookies is a new business that opened this past September. The premise? Large luxury cookies delivered straight from the oven to you, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. So, how did this Pace grad go from IT major to cookie connoisseur? Well, it all started with his family.

“I grew up baking,” said Hajihaidari. “My mom’s a total old-Italian baker. She has this huge wicker box filled with tons of little recipe cards from her mom so, especially around Christmastime, we’d pull out the box and flip through it and figure out what we wanted to bake. She would make these amazing Christmas cookies every year and we would get so excited to help; it was a family thing.”

Around three years ago, his family found themselves at a baking crossroads when his sister, Mariam, was diagnosed with Diabetes as a result of Prader-Willi Syndrome. In an effort to keep their Christmas traditions alive, they worked tirelessly to create new recipes that would not only taste good but be good.

“We couldn’t bake as much as we used to because she couldn’t have sweets so it forced us to get a little creative. We started experimenting with Stevia and gluten free options — we even milled our own oat flour,” said Hajihaidari. “We found some recipes that worked and this way, we were able to include her in our Christmas traditions without putting her health at risk.”

These trials and experimentations with recipes would become the inspiration for the unique cookie flavors available at Milk N’ Cookies. And as a result, they offer their vast array of cookies in a gluten-free and sugar-free variety, affectionately known as “Mariam-style.”

The best part about these cookies? They taste even better the next day! | Photo by Sarah Vazquez

A testament to their incredible flavor combinations and customer service, Milk N’ Cookies has already managed to attract a large following—the service currently has close to 700 followers on Instagram, their very own app and, according to Hajihaidari, a dedicated group of customers, many of whom are Red Hawks!

“I love the fact that they deliver right to campus,” said Business Administration major Raven Britton. “I’ve ordered from Milk N’ Cookies twice and I will definitely be ordering from them again!” Psychology major and childhood friend Katie Dolan also echoed these glowing sentiments adding, “As a friend of Ali’s, I couldn’t be more proud. The business has only been open a little while and I can see that it will only get better from here.”

But while success has come fast for Milk N’ Cookies, it hasn’t been without its fair share of hiccups. Any business owner will tell you that the first day of operation is always the craziest, but Milk N’ Cookies first night takes the cake.

“Our first order was an order of 20 cookies for a local restaurant in Montclair. We weren’t expecting such a big order and it kind of made us nervous being our first night. So, we put the cookies in the oven and when we take them out, all 20 cookies are burnt on the bottom but raw in the middle,” said Hajihaidari. “So we start another batch and this time, we forget to put in the flour. Then we make a third batch and this one finally comes out right. As stressful as that was, it’s so funny now because two of the customers that received our order that night have now ordered eight times since.”

Owner and Founder Ali Hajihaidari poses with his limited edition Red Velvet Nutella Holiday Cookie. | Photo by Sarah Vazquez

Besides interesting flavors like, “Fruity Pebbles” and “New York City Cheesecake,” the size of these cookies is what strikes people the most, as each cookie is roughly the size of an outstretched hand. When asked about why he decided to make his cookies so big, Hajihaidari simply stated, “Why not? I feel the bigger the better with any dessert. You can go anywhere, in any town in any country, and find a cookie. But you can’t go anywhere else and find a cookie that’s this big with these flavors.”

And with cookies this big, he’s found that people have developed unique ways of consuming them.

“We’ve seen some interesting things,” said Hajihaidari. “The best was when someone posted a photograph of themselves using a pizza cutter to cut the cookies into bite-size pieces. Someone even suggested that we brand our own ‘Milk N’ Cookie Cutters’ as a result!”

Soon enough, he’ll be able to see more people enjoying his cookies in person, rather than over social media, as a Milk N’ Cookies storefront is set to open in the next few weeks, a mere nine minutes from campus.

There’s nothing better than hot cookies on a cold, winter night. | Photo by Sarah Vazquez

With so much accomplished so far, what does Ali hope for the future of Milk N’ Cookies? It’s simple—he wants to make it a home away from home.

“We love the idea of providing a little piece of home for students,” said Hajihaidari. “When you dorm, it’s easy to get homesick, but we’re hoping to bring them a little bit of mom. After all, there’s no better cure for homesickness than a warm, homemade cookie like mom would make.”