A Dialogue with Ben Otterbein
Imagery Captured by Dan Whipps of Whipps Photo

For the Otterbein lineage, the quintessential American vision materialized when Adam Otterbein made his way from Germany to Baltimore in 1881, clutching the antiquated confectionery and ginger biscuit formulas from his provincial bakery.

Ben Otterbein, his direct descendent, provides insights into the family’s prosperous journey.

Describe your current position at Otterbein’s Cookies?

I function as the vice president. My responsibilities encompass managing daily operations, which involve handling sales, procurement, wage distribution, and the strategic expansion of the enterprise. My progenitor, Mark, represents the fourth in succession to steer the company’s course as its president, albeit his influence now is akin to that of an adviser in reserve.

Otterbein Cookies

Were you involved in the business during childhood?

The innate expectation was for us offspring to accompany our father to work daily as the summer season unfurled—and indeed, I harbor vivid memories of those early days. Once I reached an age deemed appropriate, I was entrusted with the task of adhering labels to packaging.

At what juncture did you resolve to commit to the enterprise?

Subsequent to earning my high school diploma, I devoted a two-year span to contribute at Otterbein’s. However, at the ripe age of twenty and keen on savoring life’s pleasures, I sought higher education. Post-graduation, I engaged with a compact outfit, managing projects on behalf of small-scale entrepreneurs and it became apparent how rewarding I found their facilitation. It was in 2015, with my father considering his departure from the professional realm, that I chose to return to my beginnings alongside my betrothed to inject our vigor into the familial venture. The harmony of timing and purpose was undeniable, and my intent was infused with eagerness to inject dynamism into our growth. My mantra was, “Let’s ignite a blaze and enlarge our reach.”

How do you perceive the company’s endurance beyond 140 years?

When my ancestor Joe succeeded his progenitor at the helm, he went on to inaugurate three storefronts. It was during my father’s tenure, beginning in 1979, that a quest to elevate the company commenced. Yet, the advent of the 1990s saw grocery outlets venturing into in-house confectionary operations. Anticipating the need to evolve for survival, my father strategized to introduce our biscuits to regional supermarkets. A pivotal moment was achieved by securing product placement within Giant Food Stores, with other significant markets soon falling in step.

In what way do your biscuits distinguish themselves, and which varieties resonate most with your customers?

We champion simplicity—each biscuit is crafted to be thin and crunchy. Our methodology is dual-pronged: customary ingredients that would be found in a typical household pantry and the incorporation of an exquisite French chocolate, formulated specifically for esteemed patissiers. The chocolate chip biscuit enjoys the limelight as our chart-topping choice, closely followed by the traditional sugar biscuit.

Could you disclose the cornerstone of your thriving business?

We acknowledge the imperative of consistent excellence in our products. There is no compromise on savor; every portion must resonate with deliciousness. Our credo remains unaltered since our inception in 1881: Pared-down components. Uncomplicated baking. Pure delight.

For additional information, peruse otterbeinscookies.com