Mike and Robin Maddux never set out to be in the cookie business. In fact, Moonshine Mountain Cookies really started out as a special treat for customers at the pizzeria that the couple started decades ago. Although the restaurant is no longer around, the cookies that were born out of that business have taken on a life of their own. Once Mike and Robin saw the huge demand for their delicious cookies, they knew they had a hit on their hands.
Initially leasing a small kitchen space in the Old City three days a week, sales started to skyrocket and they decided to open their own bakery. Moonshine Mountain’s cookies have many signature flavors worth sampling. While most cookies have a traditional flat shape, Mike and Robin opt for a more plump shape, keeping the product moist and brimming with flavor.
The addition of moonshine was Mike’s idea. “Because of past experience in the pizza business, I was still getting literature from the food industry,” he says. “And one thing kept jumping out to me about what was hot and trending … Moonshine had just been legalized.”
The couple discovered that the addition of different flavored moonshines gave their cookies an extra kick. During the baking process, the alcohol dissipates from the dough, leaving behind nothing but flavor, making it consumable for people of all ages.
The cookies have earned a reputation outside of Knoxville, and the pair sees people stopping in their store from many states.
Occasionally, they’ll even see a customer twice in one day. “We’ve sold boxes of cookies that people intend to give as a gift,” Mike says, “only to see those people return to the store an hour later for more because the first box didn’t make it home.”
In addition to the business from their bakeries, the company also ships the tasty treats all over the country. “One day we got a phone call, and I almost didn’t take it because it was from Michigan,” says Mike. “I went ahead and answered it, and it was General Motors. They had heard about us through our website.”
Today, the couple continues to attract new customers from all over, inviting them to experience what Moonshine Mountain Cookies has to offer. What started as a small promotional stunt a little over 30 years ago has turned into a thriving national business for Mike and Robin. By adding a little bit of one of East Tennessee’s most infamous beverages, they’ve turned their operation into one of Knoxville’s most iconic desserts.