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Omaha Magazine

How The Cookie Crumbles

May 23, 2023 03:33PM ● By Lexi Shuck
Eli Vedral Kookaburra Cookies Gen O Omaha Magazine June 2023

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

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Eli Vedral never set out to be a cookie entrepreneur, but a strict one-snack rule from his childhood led him on an unexpected path to becoming a baked good mogul. 

Describing how his parents enforced their snacking stipulation, the 22-year-old Creighton University graphic design major, said, “I somehow learned that if I made homemade chocolate chip cookies, they could not control how much I consumed or baked. If I wanted to have cookies, I would make them.”

Five cookies, for example, counted as one item, so Vedral was technically in the clear—even without cleaning his dinner plate.

Little did he—or his parents—realize that Vedral’s loophole would grow into something much bigger: Kookaburra Cookies, a specialty gourmet cookie business, for which Vedral wears multiple hats as founder, owner, and baker.

Being an entrepreneur was never at the top of Vedral’s priorities as a busy college student (he also runs Division I track for Creighton’s men’s cross country team), but when COVID-19 hit, he had difficulty finding a job he enjoyed. He asked his aunt, Stephanie Jarrett, co-founder of Bulu, a subscription box fulfillment company, for advice. 

Jarrett told him, “I think you can start something for yourself—in the middle of a pandemic we have nothing for you, and most businesses aren’t going to have anything.” 

Vedral took inspiration from his aunt’s words as well as from a trip to Sydney, Australia, where he studied for a semester under Creighton’s Global Scholars program. 

“Living in Australia completely changed the way I thought about food, which was the concept of food fusion,” he explained. 

Vedral recalled visiting restaurants and snack shops that offered unique food combinations, like sushi cheeseburgers and spicy gelatos. This culinary awakening sparked an idea to combine his two favorite things: muffin tops and crumbly cookies. "Strumble,” his trademarked portmanteau of “streusel and crumble,” was born.

His creation required an outlet, and Kookaburra Cookies followed—so named, he explains on his website, for “an iconic bird native to Australia—because they are known for spreading joy and making people smile. I want to channel that same energy through my cookies.” 

Vedral put his graphic design degree to work by designing the whimsical bird that graces his packaging.

With the help of a cottage permit and a stand mixer in his parents’ Wahoo, Nebraska, kitchen, Vedral works toward perfecting his baked goods, which feature an array of flavors: lemon shortbread, cookies and cream, s’mores, coffee cake, birthday cake, and chocolate-peanut butter. Each cookie comes topped with strumble; the company’s tagline a cheeky invitation: “Are you ready to strumble?”

Kookaburra’s coffee cake strumble is what Vedral believed would initially entice customers: a cookie they could eat for breakfast. 

“I’m a big cookies for breakfast advocate,” he chuckled. “It has brown sugar and cinnamon strumble—a cinnamon swirl throughout the brown sugar cookie dough—just a great cookie you can have at any point in the day.”

Jarrett isn’t surprised Vedral is making a name for himself in the baked goods industry. 

“He’s always been entrepreneurial minded. He started baking cakes when he was in high school with his younger brother. They had this, like, side business—any opportunity to be creative and to try something new, he was all over it,” she said.

The proud aunt also noted how seriously Vedral takes his trade, describing how he applies the science of baking to make his cookies taste better while adjusting for softness. 

“Those cookies are truly a work of art,” Jarrett observed. “He understands not only the artistry that goes into making a cookie in terms of flavor profile, but he understands all of the science and chemistry behind it [as well].”

This, she continued, is what separates Kookaburra Cookies from other market options. 

“A very standard, at best, cookie with some sort of novelty topping isn’t actually that creative or great,” Jarrett noted. “Eli really puts a lot of thought and care into the flavor profile. He’s not trying to pump out new toppings that are just kind of this random thing and calling it cookie of the week. He’s just really focused on making something good and keeping the integrity of his product.”

After graduating from Creighton, Vedral hopes to open a storefront for his business so he can see more of his customers in-person. The appearance of the storefront is anything but certain, but the young entrepreneur has a vision. 

“I want it to be just like a space that is very inviting and welcoming, that has strong ties to the community it’s in,” he shared.

Three years into Kookaburra Cookies, Vedral continues to work on his recipes.

“One of the things I pride myself on is just the highest quality cookie possible,” he said. 

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This article originally appeared in the June 2023 issue of Omaha Magazine. To subscribe, click here. 
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