Katherine Frankstone loved baking cookies with her father when she was growing up, and she loved baking them for her sons when they were growing up.Now she bakes for cookie lovers all over the country who've discovered her Grey Ghost Bakery cookies.
Frankstone, who lives in Columbia, is the owner and chief baker of Grey Ghost, and her cookies are sold in retailers all over South Carolina, in seven other states and in Canada.
She began with three varieties she has been baking for a long time: cinnamon pecan, molasses spice and chocolate espresso.
When she was growing up, she made the cinnamon pecan cookies with her father, who loved to bake and had a sweet tooth. "He called these the ‘goodest cookies in the world,'" she said. (Frankstone's cookie labels say they have the "goodest quality" and "bestest taste.)
The molasses spice is very chewy and spicy, and the chocolate espresso has strong chocolate and coffee flavors.
She recently introduced her fourth cookies, lemon sugar, and it has been selling strong. Frankstone based it on a lemon bundt cake her mother used to make.
Her lemon cookie was one of four finalists for a national award from the Specialty Food Association in the cookie category.
Five years ago, the oldest of Frankstone's three sons left for college and she began to think about what she would do when all of them were out of the house.
"I was worried that I would be left with nothing to do," she said.
She began exploring the specialty food industry, because she had always loved baking cookies and people encouraged her to start selling them.
She did research. She tasted cookies and studied packages, and in fall of 2011 decided to introduce her line of cookies. But close to her launch date, she decided it was all too complicated.
Fortunately for cookie fans, she had already told a friend that she would donate cookies for a charity event just before Christmas. She didn't want to back out so she rushed an order for labels. She ended up selling 300 dozen cookies that month.
It was a surprise but also a sign that she was on to something sweet.
The next September, she launched the company in earnest, and now, less than two years later, she's outgrown her facility and is planning to move into a much bigger space. This is more than a business move for Frankstone and her husband; they're also moving from Columbia to Charleston. Her new cookie facility will be on James Island.
With the move to a bigger plant, she plans to introduce a peanut cookie soon and then another for the holidays.
She chose the name of her company for one of South Carolina's best-known ghosts, the Gray Man of Pawleys Island. Legend has it that the Gray Man warns residents to flee the island when a hurricane is approaching.
Just like a ghost story, Frankstone said, the recipes she uses have been passed down for generations.
You can pick up Grey Ghost cookies at many specialty retailers across the country or order from www.greyghostbakery.com.