May 19, 2022

One of the nation’s largest grocery chains, Publix, announced the return of a well-loved feature of its bakeries, the free cookies for kids. The grocery chain stated that the popular free cookie program is returning company-wide one year after it was discontinued at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Publix discontinued the freebie handouts at its stores back in March of 2020. A spokesperson for the Lakeland-based supermarket chain confirmed that their free kids’ cookie program had been reinstated. The free cookies program is not only kids’ favorite but also popular with adults.

The supermarket chain’s bakery plant in Lakeland is where a massive number of cookies are churned out before it is distributed to more than 1,200 of its stores and peaks during the busy holiday season. A cascade of cookie dough rolls on a conveyor belt at the plant, and a machine with a wire cutter inside instantly cuts them into the correct shape and portion.

According to Publix, its main bakery plant can produce 2,400 cookies a minute, which are then shipped to the chain’s 1,200 stores nationwide. They utilize 2 million pounds of flour and 400,000 pounds of sugar in a week. 

“Twenty-four hundred cookies a minute,” said the bakery general manager Gaye Pate to FOX 13. “And every one of those cookies has about 45 to 50 chips in each cookie.”

Through the help of automated packing, the cookies are stacked “shoulders up.” The customers will think they see the front of the package from all angles of the packaging.

“You notice that we put one angle this way. One angle this way,” Publix CEO Todd Jones shared. “So, if a customer is on this side, they are seeing the front. On this side, the front. So, you see these beautiful chocolate chips in there.”

The program was suspended amid lockdowns and shutdowns across the country early last year. As the pandemic slowly winds down, the free cookie program is one of the latest aspects of everyday life to make a comeback.