Discover Local Colorado

Behind the Brand: Leckerlee and Sandy Lee

Behind the Brand: Leckerlee and Sandy Lee

Leckerlee is a Longmont-based cookie company that's been written about in Vogue, Saveur, Food & Wine, and has even received glowing reviews from Ruth Reichl. What a resume! 

So what are these cookies exactly? They're a traditional german gingerbread-type cookie, made with 9 spices, ground almonds, and hazelnuts. Each is baked on a thin wafer; then they can be completed dipped in chocolate or left plain. All are delicious and totally memorable. To top it off, they're packaged in gorgeous seasonal cookie tins that make you want to collect them all. Here's the one we're selling this year!

We were so excited when Sandy agreed to our Behind the Brand interview. How did such an illustrious cookie company end up here in Longmont? And how did Sandy get so obsessed with a traditional German holiday cookie? Read on for all your answers...

1. How did you get started? What were your first steps and how did it evolve from there?
I was living in Germany when I first discovered lebkuchen at a Christmas market in Berlin. I became obsessed with lebkuchen, and started learning all about it: the history (which goes back to the Middle Ages), the different types (there are different categories based on the nut content, and we exclusively make the Nuremberg-style lebkuchen which has the highest percentage of nuts), and how to make it. As I started thinking about moving back to the States in 2011 (back when lebkuchen was not widely known here), it occurred to me that I could possibly start a lebkuchen business with all of the knowledge I had accumulated (also, I needed a source for lebkuchen in the U.S.!). Somehow, I was undaunted by my complete lack of baking experience or commercial food production, and when I moved back to NYC, I jumped right into launching the business. There was definitely a learning curve on the production side. But I was very lucky to get some good early press, which helped us get off the ground. Even so, it's a seasonal business, so I was still working my corporate job full-time for the first 8 years. We moved the business from NYC to Colorado in 2020. It's hard to believe this is now our 13th season of Leckerlee!

2. How did you come up with your name?
The word lecker means delicious in German, and in certain German/Swiss regions, the words leckerli or leckerle mean delicious little treat. I thought that would be a fitting name for the company. The spelling of Leckerlee with two e's is actually a pun on my last name, Lee, because it has the added bonus of making it easier to pronounce! 
3. Tell us about your workspace! How did you end up in Longmont?
It was pretty serendipitous that we ended up in Longmont. An arrangement to work out of a facility in Broomfield fell through during the pandemic, and we were frantically searching for another location before our season started. Somebody tipped me off to the Skyway Foods facilities out in Longmont, which were specifically designed for food production. We eventually signed a lease on a space there with another company, and it's been perfect for us. The shared warehouse and walk-in freezer and refrigerator space are indispensable to us, and it's been great working among a community of small food manufacturers.
4. Do you have a favorite review or comment about your products?
We are very excited that Ruth Reichl recently mentioned us in her holiday gift guide! For those who aren't familiar with Ruth, she's a chef and food writer (and six-time James Beard Foundation Award winner) who was the editor of Gourmet magazine and also a food critic for the New York Times. She writes: "[My German father] loved Lebkuchen and had a secret source that he never revealed. For years I made do with the disappointing commercial brands and then, a few years ago I discovered Leckerlee, it was like being a child again. These are the real thing. Chewy, gingery, spicy, nutty – with that completely tasteless but compelling wafer on the bottom. It is, for me at least, Christmas in a single bite."

5. What’s your favorite product you sell?
This is an easy one, since we more or less sell just one product, lebkuchen :) Well, it does come in two flavors and sizes, and lots of different tin designs. It's not possible for me to pick a favorite tin design though, there are too many!

We love this mood board that helped inform one of the Lebkuchen tins!

6. Are there any great local artisans that you’re into right now?
I love Spinster Sisters and Muddy Mint! They are both women-owned small businesses that I admire who are community-minded and operate with a lot of integrity. And their soaps are amazing!! I love giving them as gifts to highlight locally made products that are awesome.

Editors Note: OK we love this! We did not stage this at all, but Sandy happened to mention two local artisans that we love fact we sell them both in our shop and have done Behind the Brands on both of them too! Links to those below... 

7. Do you have a favorite local restaurant?

Urban Field has amazing pizza, and JaiThai is our local go-to for excellent Thai food.

8. You live in Longmont, Colorado. Do you have any favorite place to enjoy the beauty of your area? 
Lyons is so close -- a short 15-minute drive -- but feels like a little getaway to a quaint mountain town. So I like to head over there whenever I need a short break from the day to day.

(not a photo of Lyons but another pretty pictures of Lebkuchen - we couldn't resist)

Want to read more Behind the Brand blog posts? Here you go!