Karen Krebs bakes her way into spotlight

Mrs. Fields contest puts N. Seattleite into semi-finals

Northgate resident Karen Krebs has been named semi-finalists in the Mrs. Fields & iVillage Search for the 30th Anniversary Cookie.

Krebs said she entered her coconut oatmeal cookies in the online contest on a whim after seeing the competition mentioned on TV.

"It was a happy coincidence. I was watching "Oprah," and the recipe just popped into my head," she said.

She got the recipe from someone in college and hadn't made it in years; in fact, she said, she had almost completely forgotten about it.

"When I made them, my 18-year-old daughter said, 'What are these? You've never made these for us!'" Krebs said.


She said she feels very confident about the recipe for a number of reasons: It's easy to handle, holds well in the fridge and is different from anything else out there.

"I like a combination of taste, crunch and texture," Krebs said. "The coconut and oatmeal make a nice marriage of sensations for you to enjoy."

Also, the recipe doesn't have any nuts. Krebs, who is a teacher, said this makes the cookies more accessible to people; when she makes them for her students, she doesn't have to worry about those who may have nut allergies.

After all this baking, has Krebs tired of eating her cookies yet?

"I'm embarrassed to say 'no,'" she said. "I'll make a double batch and just pull the dough out of the fridge and bake some more when we start to run out."

Although Krebs said she hopes her recipe is added to the Mrs. Fields repertoire, she does have a favorite among the company's current recipes.

"I love macadamia nuts," she said, "and Mrs. Fields makes a mean chocolate chip macadamia cookie."


The competition has helped Krebs rediscover the art of baking. When she was growing up, her maternal grandparents lived with the family. Her grandmother, who was from Scotland, cooked without recipes; by the age of 5 or 6, Krebs had learned how to make shortbread.

"Shortbread is a very temperamental recipe," she said. "You just sort of get a feel for it."

She continued to bake through college and after she got married. Her baking days diminished as her daughter got older. After entering her recipe in the competition, Krebs started baking more regularly again.

"I'm having fun with it," she said. "It's added a twist and spice to my life.


That's the goal of the contest, according to Leslie Snavely, Mrs. Fields' director of marketing.

"The anniversary is a big occasion, so we wanted to do something big to commemorate it," she said. "What a great way to celebrate."

All finalists will receive a year's supply of Mrs. Fields gift certificates worth $62 per month. The grand-prize winner will be flown to New York City with one guest and will also get brand new GE Profile appliances for their kitchen.

"I really want the new appliances," Krebs said. "We just got hardwood floors in our house and it makes everything else look even older. The updated appliances would be a nice finishing touch."

The winning recipe will also inspire a new cookie for the company.

"We'll take the recipe and 'Mrs. Fields-ize' it," Snavely said.

Depending on sales, the cookie could be offered at locations anywhere from six months to permanently.

"We're excited to bring the new recipe to our customers," Snavely said. "We see how much love and care individuals put into their own baking; we want to deliver a high-quality cookie that has been created with that same love."

This is Mrs. Fields' first online national cookie search. In the past, local branches of the company have had smaller-scale competitions. After reviewing more than 700 recipe entries on iVillage, online users voted for their favorites.

Later this month, the 30 semi-finalists will be narrowed down to five finalists. A panel of baking experts will choose the grand-prize winner in November.

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