Kamal's Kitchen

The Magic Middles StoryPen

The story of Magic Middles starts with my grandma around 1937. My grandmother had just left her house at 17 years old, and her first job was working as a nanny for a Curacaoan couple. The couple had come from Curacao, which at the time was a colony of the Netherlands, and they were of white Danish origin and they moved to Panama where my grandmother lived and she became their nanny. While she was nannying for them in Panama, the couple opened a popular bakery called “Delicias de Maria”. My grandmother worked for them and she picked up a love of cooking and learned how to bake Danish butter cookies. As a kid, my mother would take us to Panama and my grandma would make a version of that Danish butter cookie. She put her own spin on them over time and made them her own. She would stuff them full of chopped up pieces of chocolate and then close them up, wrapping each bundle of chocolate with dough and baking them until they puffed up with a mound of chocolatey goodness in the center. Me and my brother would eat them fresh out of the oven. The cookies were crispy on the outside and ooey-gooey on the inside and when we bit into them, the warm chocolate would just spill out.
Those cookies were so good! I loved them so much and spending that time with my grandma in Panama created amazing memories for me as a young boy that have always stuck with me. It was truly one of the highlights of not only those trips to Panama, but also one of the cherished memories of my childhood. When my grandma passed away in 1990, I knew that not only would I forever miss my grandma, but I’d also never have the experience of being able to indulge in those cookies again.
So one day I’m in the grocery store and I saw these cookies called “Magic Middles” by Keebler, and of course I had to buy them to check them out. To my delight, though they were missing the love of my grandma, they tasted a lot like her cookies. And I loved it. They were so good and it was a rekindling of those beloved memories. So for as long as they were on the shelves, I would ask my mom to go to the store and get more of these cookies and they reminded me of my grandma every time. And in these formative years of my young life, first eating my grandma’s cookies in Panama, then finding the cookies by Keebler established my love for baked goods. When a Dunkin Donut executive came to my high school foodservice class and discussed his trips to the doughnut research and development lab to taste the experimental treats, it sounded pretty sweet to me. So at that point in my life, I decided that I wanted to become a pastry chef. I loved baked goods and I wanted to be able to bring the happiness that I received from pastries to others.
Fast forward a little bit, I’m graduating high school, realizing that I didn’t have the money to go to college, so I joined the Navy instead. At that point, I decided to integrate my dream of becoming a pastry chef and my military path, so I baked in the Navy. Baking in the Navy on a boat in the middle of the ocean for hundreds of homesick, angry sailors every day really taught me how to be a good cook, listen and adapt to constructive criticism. While stationed in California, I would go to the stores to try and find these Magic Middles cookies again and I couldn’t find them anywhere. At first I thought that maybe they just didn’t sell them in California and I even asked my mom to look in Georgia, but she couldn’t find them either and so figured they’d been discontinued. After the Navy, I attended the Culinary Institute of America to learn the fine art of baking and pastries. Then the American Institute of Baking to learn more extensively about baking science and started learning more about how baked goods, sugar, and flour all interact with each other.
As I was adding experience and insight to my path to becoming a great pastry chef, I wanted to add another tool to my skills toolbox, so I decided to go to Panama and learn Spanish. I moved to Panama where I lived with my Aunt Nena at the time, who has since passed away from breast cancer. While I was learning Spanish living with my aunt in Panama, she actually lived in my grandma’s old house. My aunt and I got to talking about how I’d just finished up with the American Institute of Baking, and I shared with her my pastry chef dream and how I was working towards it and she shared with me that instead of taking cakes to events, she would instead bake cookies for parties, family gatherings or any other celebrations. And I loved that. I asked her if she remembered the cookies that my grandmother used to make. To my delight, she said yes and made me a batch. I watched carefully and weighed out every single ingredient as she was making them and wrote down the recipe as she recreated them step by step. When they came out of the oven, they tasted exactly as I remembered them from my childhood memories with my grandma in Panama. And tasted just as good as the Magic Middles I was once able to find on the shelves as a child.
I thought to myself, with the spirit of my grandmother and the newly acquired recipe from my Aunt, I could make these delicious cookies at home and bring back all the nostalgia I was longing for. Fast forward to starting to achieve my dream of becoming a great pastry chef, I opened the now successful world famous doughnut shop with multiple locations in Atlanta, Sublime Doughnuts, and though I loved becoming the world’s greatest doughnut shop, I wanted to do more in the pastry world, so I made the decision to recreate Magic Middles and put my own family-inspired spin on them. I checked to see if the trademark was available and discovered that it was. I told myself that not only could I become the new owner of the nostalgic Magic Middles cookies, but I could simultaneously pay homage to my childhood dreams, my aunt, and to my grandma. I bought the trademark and started redeveloping the brand. I took the recipe that had been handed down from my Grandma by way of my Aunt Nena that I’d been making at home, and reformulated them to be mass produced, shelf stable and give you the same quality of Magic Middle that you remember from Kebbler, by taking my years of baking experience, knowledge, and education that I’d acquired in my culinary studies, and worked to reformulate the Magic Middles recipe that I used to love. This allowed me to be able to replicate high quality products simultaneously with those childhood memories, so that when you bite into every cookie, you too could experience the love of sitting with my Grandma and the smell of the cookies coming fresh out of the oven. 
After working with a series of potential manufacturers across the United States, and getting results that just didn’t match what I was looking for, I asked myself what was missing and decided to explore manufacturers around Panama since that’s where the cookies were first created. So I found a manufacturer in Columbia, and like the Magic from Middle of my favorite cookies, they nailed it. It tasted just like the cookies from my memories with my grandmother. Just like the cookies my aunt had baked for me. And, just as good as the cookies I started to make for myself as an adult. I’d found magic with the manufacturers in Columbia. Something was just wonderfully different, yet it was all just the same as I remembered. And that is the story of the new and improved Magic Middles and why I’m bringing them back!
That’s also why a portion of the proceeds from the Magic Middles cookie sales are going to C.A.R.E., because I believe that helping women out of poverty is something that can benefit whole communities. I want our products to help support women the way they have helped support me my whole life.