Saffron Restaurants reservation York resident launches ‘better for you’ cookie brand

York resident launches ‘better for you’ cookie brand


YORK, Maine – A York resident has launched a new online cookie company, shipping batches of gluten-free and vegan treats across the country to promote a healthy alternative.

Addison Labonte said she was desperate for a normal life when doctors told her she had a devastating condition called Compartment Syndrome. Labonte, a former Division I college football player in her early 20s, had suddenly felt her legs going numb while training for a marathon.

Labonte was determined to avoid life-changing surgeries. She said she found that eating gluten-free seemed to cure her symptoms.

Now Labonte is sharing her favorite recipes for better-for-you cookies with Sweet Addison’s. Her cookies have a grain-free, gluten-free and soy-free recipe, made without refined sugar, artificial flavors or preservatives.

Labonte, who moved from New England to Dallas, Texas, said she has sold 5,000 cookies since starting the company. The cookies, which are typically sold in batches of four, six or eight, have been shipped to Texas, California, New York and her home state of Maine.

“I didn’t even want to call it a job because I’m having so much fun,” Labonte said. “It has yielded an incredible amount.”

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The owner of Sweet Addison honed his cooking skills in York

Labonte grew up in York, where she grew up with a love of baking and athletics.

While she honed her skills on the soccer field, she spent much of her other time in the kitchen with her mother and grandmother.

Labonte has fond memories of baking Toll House chocolate chip cookies with her mother every Sunday, always eating a little of the leftover cookie dough. When they visited her grandparents’ house, they cooked everything from scratch.

“I’ve always been a baker,” Labonte said. “I had such positive memories of being in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother.”

Labonte graduated from York High School in 2012. Her athletic career took her to the University of Maine, where she played defense on the women’s soccer team.

When she graduated, she decided to stay active through marathon training.

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Which led to gluten-free eating

About three to four miles into her first marathon training sessions, she realized that her legs had a tingling “pins-and-needle sensation.” As she continued to run, she realized that her legs would become increasingly numb.

“I’ve been an athlete all my life and never had this problem,” Labonte said.

Doctors told Labonte they believed she had compartment syndrome, which causes pressure to build up and restrict blood flow to certain areas of tissue. They told her she needed surgery or she could suffer permanent nerve damage.

“I’m in the best shape of my life. Why is this happening?” Labonte said.

Labonte had been training with her aunt, who told Labonte she was on a gluten-free diet and suggested it might help. Labonte didn’t want to believe that her nerve pain was caused by gluten, but she agreed to try it.

“Within three days I was able to run normally again,” Labonte said. “It felt too good to be true.”

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Labonte launches Sweet Addison’s

Labonte went all in on a gluten-free diet and even created an Instagram page that quickly gained a following.

The page features desserts she makes, including her gluten-free chocolate chip cookies, fudge brownies, and homemade peanut butter flowers.

Labonte said the page’s success led her to launch the website Organically Addison, which she said “skyrocketed” in 2020 to the point where she was able to monetize it and make it her full-time job.

Many of the comments she received from her followers were about her cookies and how to get them.

“I said, that’s an interesting idea,” Labonte said. “My audience asks for cookies. Why don’t I launch this and do this?”

Labonte said there were several steps to starting the new company, from finding an attorney and forming an LLC to taking a food safety course and getting certified to sell baked goods. The online business was up and running in January with gluten-free and vegan menu options, including its chocolate chip cookies made with almond flour and coconut sugar.

Labonte’s taste testers are her parents in York, who send her feedback every week. She said even her father, far from vegan, said he loved the specialty cookies and that non-vegans should try them too.

“Listen, I’m not vegan, and they’re my favorite,” Labonte said.

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Addison’s Sweets finds success online

Labonte said she chose to ship her treats across the country through online orders because of the potential for her business to reach a national audience. She hopes to make Sweet Addison’s as big a brand as possible. With the rise of food delivery services in the age of e-commerce, Labonte says she would like to get a share of the profits.

“With the rise of DoorDash, InstaCart and Amazon, more and more people are turning to technology when it comes to food,” Labonte said. “This is an exciting time for digital retail.”

Labonte is far from home, but holds her education close to her heart. She said York is a close-knit community where personal connection is important. She tries to connect with her customers by writing a handwritten thank you note with every order.

“I’m so grateful for the way I grew up in York,” Labonte said. “It really emphasizes the importance of making connections with people.”