80 Million Calories and Counting

How Hope’s Cookies captivates Bryn Mawr College

By Clare Mullaney

A sophomore at Bryn Mawr College confidently asserts that if a man were to show up at her dorm room with a box of Hope’s Cookies she would marry him.
That’s saying a lot for a Bryn Mawr woman.
Hope’s Cookies on the 1000 block on West Lancaster Avenue is a hot spot for college students. For Bryn Mawr, Hope’s has become an integral part of campus culture.
Not only do Bryn Mawr students make weekend trips to the small shop in Rosemont, but Hope’s Cookies are served and sold in various places on campus.
Tired of processed cookie dough like Toll House and Mrs. Fields, Hope Spivak of Bryn Mawr’s class of 1983 came up with the idea of Hope’s Cookies-a business that would make all natural, high quality cookie dough-during her senior year at Bryn Mawr while having lunch with a friend from Haverford College.

Hope's M&M Special

Hope's M&M Special

By 1986, Spivak said goodbye to her initial plans for medical school and opened up Hope’s Cookies in Wayne, which a year and a half later would move to Lancaster Avenue.
Hope’s 23 year-old business is still going strong.
According to a SurveyMonkey survey of Bryn Mawr students done for this story, Bryn Mawr students eat an average of two Hope’s Cookies each week.
Apply that to the entire student body and it means that they’re consuming 104,700 cookies every year and taking in over 3.5 million calories.

Packing on the pounds

This means that each Bryn Mawr student can gain six pounds every year from Hope’s Cookie’s alone.
For most Bryn Mawr students, the extra weight is worth it for that special taste of Hope’s.
Maybe it’s Hope’s Cookies’s use of 100 percent natural ingredients and no added artificial flavors or preservatives.
Or maybe it’s that Hope’s is 35 percent chocolate, unlike most cookie dough whose primary ingredient is flour or sugar.
For Sarah Nelson, a sophomore at Bryn Mawr, chocolate is definitely one of Hope’s Cookies’s distinguishing qualities.
“I like the fact that the chocolate always melts in your mouth or when you’re pulling it apart,” she says.
Lindsey Darvin, a sophomore at Bryn Mawr, says that Hope’s Cookies, by far, are the best cookies she’s ever had. They even beat her grandma’s, “so it’s a pretty big deal,” she says.
For Darvin, the pleasure of Hope’s lies in its freshness. “You feel like you’re eating cookie dough,” she says.
Many Bryn Mawr students, including Darvin, appreciate Hope’s for the wide variety of flavors it offers-anything from the seasonal pumpkin cookie, to chocolate raspberry, to apricot almond.
M&M Delight is Darvin’s favorite. “The M&Ms are gooey inside, really chocolatey. You bite into it and you’ve got the crunch with the goo,” she says.
Sophomore Alliana Propst, Darvin’s roommate and the future fiancĂ© of that as yet undetermined man bearing Hope’s, agrees. “It tickles your taste buds,” she says.
There’s something about the homemade taste of Hope’s Cookies that gives Bryn Mawr students a piece of home away from home.
“I think that even though they’re not homemade, they almost taste like they are,” says Laura Nelson, a junior at Bryn Mawr.
Spivak attributes part of her store’s appeal among college students to its “homegrown” atmosphere. Unlike franchised businesses, “things aren’t streamlined,” she says. “People like the experience.”
Despite the pervading rage for Hope’s Cookies on Bryn Mawr’s campus, some students don’t see how Hope’s are superior to other cookies.
“They’re just cookies and they’re not the best I’ve ever had,” says Susie Kim, a junior at Bryn Mawr.
Bryn Mawr’s dining hall, campus center, and Lusty Cup cafĂ©, are sent a few hundred cases of cookie dough each year from Hope’s Cookie’s factory in King of Prussia, says Spivak.

A Bryn Mawr tradition

Although the Hope’s cookies served at Bryn Mawr “are better than having no Hope’s,” says Propst, nothing can compare to the purchase of an authentic Hope’s Cookie made at the tiny store on Lancaster.
Despite the consensus that that Hope’s Cookies are best from Hope’s, the majority of Bryn Mawr students “get their Hope’s fix,” as junior Dakota Fisher-Vance calls it, on campus, probably for reasons of convenience.
Does the Bryn Mawr connection play any role in Bryn Mawr’s preference for Hope’s?
“When people realize I went to Bryn Mawr, they’re probably more apt to be loyal to the store,” says Spivak.
Although Spivak didn’t take any business courses in college, she attributes the success of Hope Cookie’s to her education at Bryn Mawr.
“Bryn Mawr opened my eyes to a whole different world,” she says.
So, maybe Spivak always puts a little bit of her Bryn Mawr experience into her cookies, connecting generations of Bryn Mawr students to the same experience, an experience created by a Mawrtyr herself.
“Hope’s Cookies is a college staple,” says Spivak. Alumnae will say, “When I went to Bryn Mawr, I went to Hope’s.”