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Lai Lida cookies. Almost cake. But still cookies.

Lai Lida Cookies heat up the local cookie industry

For the eighth straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com, presented by Locavore, the newest restaurant at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2014."

It's been four years since Laron Taylor started his cookie business, Lai Lida Cookies, and OnMilwaukee.com recently checked in with him to see how it's cookin'.

It turns out, what started out as a hobby for Taylor is now a demanding full time job.

"I'm so busy I can barely keep up," says Taylor.

Because of demand, Taylor bakes every single evening. Cookie types include Lida's red velvet tiger bites, Lida's almondini, Lida's sea turtle, Lida's Johnny bites and Lida's red velvet badger bites.

What's the difference between a tiger and a badger bite?

"The tiger bites have peanut butter chips and the badger bites have vanilla chips," says Taylor.

All of the cookies are very rich, chewy and a complementary mix of salty and sweet. They are almost a cross between a cookie and cake.

Taylor says the key to his cookie's success are family recipes and his signature cream cheese frosting which is always made fresh.

Lai Lida cookies are currently available at all Balistreri-owned Sendiks Food Markets, Grasch Foods and Metcalfe's markets in Milwaukee and Madison. Taylor also caters special events and parties.

Soon, Lai Lida will be available at grocery stores in a bake-at-home dough.

"This has been in the works for a while," says Taylor.

The company name comes from Taylor's first-semester Chinese teacher at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee who taught him the expression.

"It means 'strong traveler' – which I am not – but I chose to use it because of the way it sounds and my interest in opening a small coffee shop in Taiwan," says Taylor.

Taylor grew up cooking and baking with his mother in their kitchen, first on 12th and Capitol and later in Glendale where Taylor attended Nicolet High School.

"I originally had interest in baking cakes and cobblers, but as I grew older, sports took precedence," says Taylor. "My baking interests were rejuvenated in high school when we were forced to take home economics. Who would've thought that I would discover a true passion for baking desserts?"

Taylor's parents grew up in Jackson, Miss., and the surrounding area in the 1930s and '40s.
"During this difficult time both of my parents were taught baking and cooking techniques unique to the black culture," says Taylor. "Input from friends and family have and will help me work on past, present and future cookies."

Taylor attended Cardinal Stritch University and received a degree in sports management.
In 2005, Taylor started baking treats for family and friends who encouraged him to take his tasty creations to the next level. By the fall of 2010, he started a small bakery business.
Taylor says he was initially surprised by the success of his cookies.

"Surprisingly my cookies were a smashing success, and were being requested on a weekly basis by numerous parties," he says.

For Taylor, baking is more than his livelihood – it is an integral aspect of his well-being and his connection to people.

"Throughout my life I have used baking as a tool to relieve stress, cure my sweet tooth and bring joy and happiness to others."


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