In my college years, I usually craved grease-soaked, cheese-topped foodstuffs after returning home from the bars (hence, my ode to Pokey Stix). But Insomnia Cookies is betting that University of Minnesota students will desire something more sugary for their late-night snacks. The simple concept — a box of freshly baked cookies and milk delivered to your door until 3am — has seen a success at more than 30 campuses all over the country since it began at the University of Pennsylvania 10 years ago, and the Dinkytown location is the second in Minnesota, after Mankato.
With a relatively modest price — $1.35 for a cookie isn’t outrageous compared to the $6 cup it’s easy to dish up at one of the metro’s ubiquitous self-serve frozen yogurt shops — Insomnia Cookies likely will find a strong customer base among the student crowd, many of whom probably lack the time or equipment to bake cookies from scratch. But what about the rest of us? Are the cookies so noteworthy that it’s worth the drive (and finding a parking spot along 14th Avenue) to buy a dozen? While soft, gooey, and loaded with chunky mix-ins, the cookies probably won’t top anything a home baker can whip up at home.
Take the chocolate chunk cookie, for example. It’s buttery, vanilla-scented, and studded with healthy-sized squares of chocolate (no wimpy semi-sweet morsels evident). Delicious. But, so are my chocolate chip cookies, even with the aforementioned morsels. Anything with chocolate is a good choice — the double chocolate chunk, double chocolate mint, M&M — and the peanut butter and oatmeal raisin cookies pull their weight nicely. The plainer sugar and snickerdoodle cookies are disappointments, though — without any candy or chocolate bits to add heft and flavor, the treats taste flat and blah.
Insomnia impresses best with its “deluxe” varieties. Though twice the price ($2.75 /each) of the regular cookies, they’re also twice the size and offer the most chunks per square inch of any cookie in recent memory. The triple chocolate (pictured above) features a hefty mound of chocolate chunks on top and mixed through the batter — it’s not for the cocoa-averse. The s’mores deluxe is studded with generous shards of graham crackers and marshmallow bits throughout the rich chocolate dough. Unlike other s’mores desserts that skimp on one of the key flavors, this cookie knows what it’s doing. The chocolate peanut butter cup is the least loaded of the three but still provides a full serving of candy, lest you be worried. And if you want to truly go all out, order a cookiewich ($5 with the standard cookies, $7 with deluxe cookies) or get the cookies a la mode ($4.75 / $6).
If we turned back time 15 years and Insomnia Cookies had opened in Madison, yeah, I’d probably order a dozen (to share, of course) from time to time. But now armed with my stand mixer and a Costco-sized bag of chocolate chips, I’ll keep baking my cookies at home. And on the rare occasion I’m in Dinkytown, I might emerge from the shop with a s’mores deluxe in hand — but it won’t be at 3am, that’s for sure.
Freshly baked cookies in Dinkytown
402 14th Ave SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414
11am-3am daily (store)
1pm-2:45 am daily (delivery to University of Minnesota and surrounding areas)
PRICE RANGE: $1.35 for a single cookie to $275 for a 300-cookie residence hall special