We sat down with Robbie Jacobs , the CEO of Uncle Eddie’s Vegan Cookies to talk vegan cookies!
First of all, something we’ve all wondered about: Is Uncle Eddie a real person? What’s the story behind your name?
Uncle Eddie’s is named after my dad, Edward Jacobs. He was always working hard and helping at the bakery. Friends would call him “Eddie.” When we decided to start making vegan cookies, a friend said we should call it “Uncle Eddie’s.”
In three words, how would you describe what it’s like working at Uncle Eddie’s?
Positive. Compassionate. Family.
What’s your personal favorite Uncle Eddie’s cookie that you’re most excited to share with others?
I love them all since I created each cookie. But if I had to pick one to share with others, it would be Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip.
What is one thing that surprised you the most in your role as CEO of Uncle Eddie’s?
I was really surprised at how quickly the cookies became popular. We didn’t do any marketing back then. We went into stores, like Trader Joe’s, and did demos and handed out cookies for people to try. Being in L.A., with Hollywood and celebrities going vegan, our name and cookies started to become known. Studios started providing our cookies, celebrities started requesting them, and the business started to take off.
What do you think will be the next big trend in vegan food?
I think vegan food options will continue to grow as more people realize the health benefits. I think there’s opportunity for growth in the area of compostable packaging so we can be kinder to the planet.
What’s your favorite thing about running an all-vegan company?
We’re contributing to a kinder world. There’s no separation between me and everything else that lives. We can’t do anything that will jeopardize or harm others.
We also make vegan cookies that taste just as good as “regular” cookies.
How do you share your compassion for animals with those who aren’t as animal-friendly?
Everyone can make their own choice, but hopefully they will see I’m a joyful person. They’ll understand the joy that I have of being alive and the joy that comes from caring for all living creatures. I respect all life. I can’t do anything to harm others.
My life was transformed after a trip to San Francisco in 1999. I was questioning what was important, and it was the first time I was exposed to vegan food. I was staying with a family, and they had a plaque on the wall which read, “In this house we eat no meat because we believe in non-violence.” I started pondering this. I had no money, and I would eat at a homeless shelter that offered vegan food choices. I tried vegan soul food for the first time. I grew up eating soul food. The family I was staying with encouraged me to make vegan cookies. I returned home and immediately went to the bakery and created my first batch of vegan chocolate chip cookies, without any recipe to guide me. I never changed the recipe. The recipe I created is the recipe that’s still used today.
What advice would you give someone wanting to run a vegan company?
Your heart needs to be in it fully. You should also be in it, not just for yourself but for everyone.
What’s next? What innovations (that you can share) is Uncle Eddie’s cookin’ up (or baking up)?
I make a “green drink.” It’s a raw food drink, all fruits and vegetables and seeds. It’s super-healthy and something you could drink every day. Right now, it takes about 45 minutes to make it, for family and friends, but I would really like to produce it to share with others.
Robbie Jacobs is the CEO of Uncle Eddie’s Vegan Cookies. He was born in Buffalo, New York, and moved to California in the late 1970s after graduating from college with a degree in marketing. He was inspired to start a cookie business after meeting the founder of Famous Amos, who was handing out cookies at a store. He gave Robbie a piece of advice: “Do something you love.” Robbie worked part-time jobs while putting together a business plan. He started a cookie business in the 1980s, and he went vegan after a trip to San Francisco in the late 1990s. His commitment to cause no harm to any living, feeling creature and to eating no animal products led him to create his first vegan recipes and Uncle Eddie’s Vegan Cookies. Aside from the bakery, Robbie enjoys painting and spending time with his son.