We all know there are plenty of health-conscious and well-sculpted firefighters in New York, thanks to whoever invented the infamous FDNY calendar. After all, they might need to save you from a seven-story building on fire, so they better be fit. But three firefighters from Westchester have taken the health-conscious ideals from the firehouse and turned them into something in which we all can partake and enjoy—a cookie.
Westchester firefighters Sunny Seward, Dominick Lombardo, and Tonin Bucaj, plus Bucaj’s brother Mark, have launched Cookie Republic, a cookie business that not only supports the National Firefighters Foundation, but that has introduced a new vegan, gluten-free, and non-GMO cookie into the market.
Lombardo, Seward, and Bucaj wanted to create a snack that would give them the energy they needed to get through long fires, missed meals, or late nights at the firehouse. But they wanted it to be tasty without being filled with preservatives, chemicals, and empty calories. Cookie Republic products are packed with flax seed, chia seed, flour made from nuts, and other beneficial ingredients.
“We are constantly eating on the go,” explains Seward, who has been a member of the White Plains Fire Department for seven years. “An alarm can go off and we’ll miss meals and have to eat while we are out. There is also a lot of stress with this job. The more stressed you are and the lower your blood pressure drops, the more likely you are to make poor food choices. We wanted to create a really good nutritional profile.”
Peanut butter cup cookie
Chocolate cake cookie
Bluberry muffin cookie
He and Lombardo met while earning Masters Degrees in Nutrition at the University of Bridgeport in 2009. In 2013, after about a year of trial and error with the recipe, Bucaj, Lombardo, and Seward came up with a cookie that was a hit with their friends, family, and co-workers (a tough crowd when it comes to snacks).
The three brought Mark Bucaj in as a business manager once they realized they could make some money with this new snack. While they were excited to turn their new recipe into a business, they also wanted to make sure to give back to the community that influenced them.
“We know a lot of people who lost family members on 9/11 and we want to give back to them,” Lombardo says. Cookie Republic donates 10 percent of its profits to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, which honors the country’s fallen fire heroes and provides assistance to their families.
On September 11, 2014 the group launched a video in order to both honor fallen firefighters and tell the story of their business. The video (see below), which features three of the founders flexing and working out, with shots of American flags and the Freedom Tower, gives that FDNY calendar a run for its money. The end conveys the meaning “Every firefighter’s death is a tragedy. Cookie Republic honors the fallen.”
Since the video launched, and they implemented aggressive social media marketing initiatives, they have seen an increased demand for their snack. They’ve gained traction in local news and were featured on ABC’s Eyewitness news in November.
Their goal is to expand production and continue to use social media to spread the word about Cookie Republic. They also plan on releasing a new video that features the making of the cookie.
Cookies sell for $2.99 each, or you can buy boxes for $20 on their website. They come in three flavors: blueberry muffin (my favorite), chocolate cake, and peanut butter cup. You’ll find them in the stores listed below.
Pizza 2000 337 Halstead Ave, Harrison (914) 835-8000; www.pizza2000.net
Big Apple Smoothie Café 197 Mamaroneck Ave, White Plains (914) 997-7700; www.bigapplesmoothie.com
Go Greenly 1088 Central Park Ave, Scarsdale (914) 713-8693; www.go-greenly.com/
Mix on Main 63 Main St, Dobbs Ferry (914) 479-5555; www.mixonmainny.com
JJ Beans 19 Cedar St, Dobbs Ferry (914) 231-7990;
Coffee Labs 7 Main St, Tarrytown (914) 332-1479; www.coffeelabs.com