International Women’s Week is one of our favorite weeks here at Meli’s HQ! As a company created by two women, we feel especially proud to celebrate ourselves and other women-owned companies during this time. If you aren’t familiar with the story of our co-founders, keep reading as we share how Meli’s went from a family recipe to a well-loved gluten-free cookie company.
It’s rare that a grade school bond extends into adulthood, but the Meli’s were destined to be in one another’s lives since before they were born. Their grandmothers played cards, their mothers went to high school together, and they easily carried on the family tradition.
Throughout the years, they both moved away from their home city of Waco, Texas. Together they attended the University of Texas in Austin, and even though they joined different sororities and made different friends, their bond remained strong. After college, Melissa Mehall attended law school and started a family in Texas, while Melissa Blue moved out west and experienced California for a number of years.
When our co-founder Melissa Blue decided that the world deserved to try her family’s naturally gluten-free monster cookies, she knew she needed a dependable partner who understood her vision. It took all of a minute to decide who she wanted to share a business with, her childhood best friend (and our co-founder) Melissa Mehall. The two moms created Meli’s over the miles that separate Fort Worth and Austin, with the occasional in-person meeting, of course.
“We had no idea what we were doing in the beginning,” Mehall said. “Melissa Blue picked up our cookies from our manufacturer outside of Austin, and we would distribute them to stores in Austin and DFW. So, we’d meet on I-35 in Waco—halfway between our cities—put the cookies in my car, hug, and then I’d walk them into stores.”
Now, the Melissas run Meli’s! Our gluten-free cookies can be found over 6,500 grocery stores across the nation in top retailers such as Target, Kroger and Walmart. They’re seven years into their business, over 30 years into their friendship, and they are just getting started.
Melissa Blue’s decision to take the family cookies into the market came from a true ah-ha moment. She was mixing a batch of the over-40-year-old family recipe when she realized there wasn’t any gluten amongst the ingredients. This was a safe and tasty treat she could give to her niece who had a gluten allergy.
“This recipe was a happy accident,” Blue said. “Written long before the majority of people became aware of celiac disease and gluten intolerances, the cookies didn’t have any gluten substitutes—they didn't exist! So, they’re just really delicious cookies made with tasty ingredients that happen to be safe for gluten-free diets.”
The Melissas launched Meli’s with the signature monster cookie, a treat named for its Frankenstein’s monster-like mix of ingredients. They have since added several additional ready-to-eat and dry mix varieties to their line, with plans to launch more in 2021.