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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Orange Madeleines from Sugar Bowl Bakery

In a focus group, feedback on a new product launch is valuable. But when feedback comes voluntarily from a stranger who simply feels the need to stop you and put in his two cents--that, my friends, is priceless.
So my experience goes when I dined at a local sushi restaurant with my husband. Trying to save money on dining out, I admittedly committed a big restaurant no-no: I brought my own dessert. Of course, I don't make that a habit, but I simply couldn't help myself. I had just received a box of Sugar Bowl Bakery's newly launched (in early February) orange-flavored Madeleines cookies, and I was so eager to try them that I couldn't even wait to get into the car before breaking them out. 
I did, however, manage to stem my desire long enough to finish dinner like a grown-up. But after I completely cleaned my plate of salmon skin roll and edamame, I decided I had waited long enough. I stealthily pulled the big clear box of what I had always known as delicious, buttery Madeleines cookies, and this version looked just like the original except for the orange-colored label as opposed to classic white. (The word "orange" also sits above the iconic Madeleines print that's front and center on the package.) You can clearly see through the packaging that the cookies boast a slight orange hue as well, further intriguing my taste buds.  
I handed one cookie to my husband and finally had the chance to bite into one myself. Instantly, I knew I could never go back to the original flavor. Since 2003, Sugar Bowl Bakery's Madeleines have been more of the (mouthwatering) same. But this new (and truly exciting) orange version was a subtle citrus variation that blended all the sweetness of just-ripe Valencia orange zests and oils with the soft, buttery goodness of a traditional Madeleine. 
Then, I was busted. A very polite and very petite waiter came to our table, knelt down beside me and politely pointed to my box of cookies. "Excuse me," he whispered with a thick Asian accent. "I don't want to intrude, but--" 
I interrupted him with instant apologies and began to stuff my box of Orange Madeleines back into my purse. Then I realized, with astonishment, that I was not being reprimanded. No, I was being interrogated. 
"Where did you get those Madeleines? I've never seen that flavor. Where can I buy them? Did you get them from Costco?" he inquired. "I buy a whole box from Costco every month because I know I'll finish them in a week, but I didn't know they had different flavors." 
A whole box in a week, huh? Judging from his small stature, I had my doubts. But then again, he seemed like a very honest guy. Once I got over my realization that I was not being kicked out of this fine-dining restaurant, I proceeded to answer his questions with vigor. 
"No, the company sent them to me. They just launched a line of flavored Madeleines this month, that's why you've never seen them. This is orange, do you want to try some? They also have Meyer lemon. They'll be on shelves soon. The new fall flavor is Pumpkin Spice, and there's Tuxedo for winter," I said. 
Although he refused my offer several times and insisted that he "did not want to intrude," I insisted right back that he simply must have a taste. I plated several cookies and pushed them in the general direction of his mouth, simultaneously reaching for my notepad and pen to take notes on his conclusion. 
"I love them," he said. My natural reporter instincts immediately kicked in with the "why" question. "It's different, and they've been doing the original for so long that it's really nice to have a new flavor. Plus, orange is a very Asian citrus flavor, so I know they'll be popular. They will definitely sell through," he assured me--that's a note to the wise for any specialty food retailer.  
Delighted with his feedback, I insisted that he keep the rest of the box to hold him over until the new flavor hits shelves. He tried to say no, but I knew this was an offer he couldn't refuse. Someone with a Madeleines passion this big deserved it, I thought. Then I went home to write up my blog post.  
"Biting into the bright Lemon and Orange Madeleines will take you to beautiful spring and summer days, and the Pumpkin Spice and Tuxedo Madeleines will whisk you to cozy autumn and rich winter. We wanted to make something we'd enjoy with our own families, and you can taste the love," said Andrew Ly, CEO of Sugar Bowl Bakery in a press release. "It only made sense to expand the line to include some of our favorite seasonal flavors." 
The cookies are free of artificial flavors, artificial colors, trans-fat and preservatives. The Lemon Madeleines are made with Meyer lemon zest and lemon oil; the Orange Madeleines are made with Valencia orange zest and orange oil; the Pumpkin Madeleines are made with real pumpkin puree and spices; and the Tuxedo Madeleines are made with the highest quality cocoa powder. 
For more information on the Sugar Bowl Bakery brand, its products or where to find them at a store near you, visit