Houston Bakery’s Pudgy’s Fine Cookies Bakes ‘Thick AF’ Cookies in the Heights

Being in the cookie business isn’t always pleasant, according to Van Teamer, owner of Heights Pudgy’s Fine Cookies Bakery. The Heights shop, which first launched as a pop-up around two years ago, has been offering small batches of North Shepherd biscuits since late July and has established a reputation for dense treats the size of children. ‘a palm and smartly named that’s slimy in the middle and shareable, because as Teamer says, “What’s the point of eating alone?”

There are hot buttery Sugar Babies with sprinkles, PB Sensation cookies wrapped with peanut butter, and Against the Grain gluten-free chocolate chip cookies. Best sellers include a custard-filled Bananza Brule cookie that’s burnt on top, the Wild Campfire s’mores cookie, and then the unmistakable Thickerdoodle, a bold name for the bakery’s version of a snickerdoodle, as well as a rotation of seasonal flavors, like the recent Turtle Power loaded with pecans and the What’s Poppin Pop-Tart-inspired cookie with strawberry rhubarb jam.

“We keep a lot of traditional flavors, but we try to reach a wide range of people of all ages, from older to younger,” she says. This often means striving to make the cookies tasty, but not too sweet. Yet, Teamer points out, the quality of the cookie comes down to preference — her and her family’s preference — which just happens to be “thick AF.”

Pudgy’s Fine Cookies bakes treats in an assortment of fun flavors.
Brittany Britto Garley

Although the cookies have received praise and devout fanfare, like any small business, Teamer says it has faced criticism while sparking some curiosity in others.

Some took issue with the cheeky “thick AF” tagline or the soft texture of the cookies, which is emphasized in Pudgy’s “a little bit of crunch, a lot of gooey” tagline. Others criticized the store’s model, which bakes small batches of cookies each day, selling them for limited hours or while supplies last. But Teamer remains faithful to its model. “It’s just like, ‘I’m sorry. That’s how we like it, and we hope you like it too,'” she said.

Creating a company she’s proud of and cookies that have the perfect texture, taste and appearance is a laborious process in itself — full of science-like experiments and days of taste testing, she says.

“If it’s not good, we make the same cookie over and over until we get it,” she says. “Then we think of the flavor, and we think of a weird and fun name for it.”

Teamer’s successful foray into the world of desserts is unconventional, especially since she had no culinary or real-life cookie experience before Pudgy’s.

Growing up in a Vietnamese family, Van Teamer says the dessert was generally less sweet than most American treats, often made with a combination of beans, rice and coconut. The only cookies she ate were baked from premade cookie dough at the grocery store or purchased from the Great American Cookies chain bakery.

Teamer, who worked as a dental hygienist, says knowing the drudgery and hustle and bustle involved, she never wanted to own her own business either, but her husband encouraged her. “I just see you doing so much more,” she recalled telling him.

The married couple started looking for something to do for their family, and when COVID hit, they decided to start a business that would focus on cookies. And after researching bakeries and cookie franchises, but seeing none that she or her family could align with, Teamer decided to start her own cookie business.

A glimpse of the Pudgy's Fine Cookies storefront, which features t-shirts, hats and a neon sign that reads 'Thick AF'.

Pudgy’s Fine Cookies owner Van Teamer set out to create a brand that is carefree and allows customers to embrace their inner “plump” child.
Pudgy Fine Biscuits

Teamer and his sister Ann Ngyuen soon began experimenting with recipes that emphasized fresh ingredients, meaning no preservatives, additives, or artificial ingredients; the norm being that all cookies had to be baked the same day they were served. “We do it the way we like it to taste, and we hope everyone likes the taste too,” says Teamer.

They also branded the cookies with a memorable face — the retro hipster cartoon boy, Pudgy, who Teamer says represents everyone’s inner “chubby” child and inhabits a playful, happy vibe she wanted for her shop. .

Eventually, the cookies became a hit within their friends and family circle, and in November 2020, Teamer’s family started hustling – hosting pop-ups at various local markets, restaurants and bars, including Kicking Kombucha , Teaspresso, Railway Heights and Tenfold Café. “We were pretty desperate,” she says. “Whoever allowed us to be [at their establishment]we were there.”

Pudgy’s soon began taking online orders and wholesale its cookies to various establishments while cooking in the Teamer family’s garage. Eventually, “people got tired of chasing Pudgy’s,” Teamer says, and growing tired of people coming to her house, Teamer decided to seek out a space of her own. After hearing about a location up high across from what would be Houston’s largest Kroger, Teamer jumped at the chance, opening the storefront at 1010 North Shepherd Drive in conjunction with the ice cream company of his friend Josh Delon, Underground Creamery. (The two now share a kitchen space.)

Van Teamer, daughter Taylor and sister Ann Ngyuen decked out in Pudgy t-shirts, at Pudgy's Fine Cookies bakery.

Van Teamer officially launched its cookie and bakery company Pudgy’s Fine Cookies storefront in July after years of operating as a pop-up.
Alain Castelan

Since then, Teamer says the bakery has received great support. The grand opening on July 31 had people lining up an hour before the event, which felt like a big party. And in many ways, Pudgy’s is still a festive, family affair. His daughter Taylor helps run the bakery storefront, Teamer still manages the shop’s marketing and social media, and her sister Ngyuen is often found in the back of the shop helping cook up cookie recipes that the husband from Teamer is still testing. And although Teamer plans to expand her cookie empire, she’s still willing to make cookies her own way.

Quality, above all else, she says, is always her goal.

Pudgy’s is open from 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The bakery is closed on Mondays. Available for delivery.

Comments are closed.