Dubai: 8-year-old launches line of 'clean' cookies with sister; sold out in 24 hours

Devi and Mira's products are vegan, free from gluten, nuts, refined sugar, artificial flavours, preservatives and palm oil


Nasreen Abdulla

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Supplied photos
Supplied photos

Published: Wed 29 Mar 2023, 8:51 AM

Last updated: Wed 29 Mar 2023, 2:35 PM

When her daughter Devi was diagnosed with food intolerances, Anupa devised a cookie recipe that was delicious and healthy. Today, that same recipe has made 8-year-old Devi and her 6-year-old sister Mira the youngest winners of a local business accelerator programme in the UAE.

“It was never meant to be a commercial thing,” said Anupa. “When I first baked the cookie, I just wanted to make something that Devi would enjoy eating and sharing with her friends and family. I never imagined that it would become a commercially produced product.”

Devi, nicknamed Bobby, and Meera, nicknamed Rocky, together made BobRockz Cookies using recipes that include nutritious flour blends and plant-based ingredients such as pumpkin seeds, sun-dried dates, red rice, mung beans, lentils and pulses. The children wanted the cookies to be healthy due to their dietary and allergen needs and spent many years perfecting recipes for cookies which are vegan and free from gluten, nuts, refined sugar, artificial flavours, preservatives and palm oil.

A fairytale

Devi, due to her intolerances, started to explore in the kitchen with her mum, when she was just 18 months – and by the time she was four, was baking her favourite chocolate cookies all by herself.

It was the teachers at their school, Swiss International School Dubai, that first suggested that Devi and Mira sell the cookies at a winter fair. “During that first fair, we gave away most cookies,” recalled Anupa. “We were just happy to share the snack that we enjoyed. Later we started getting calls for more school fairs and eventually we took a licence to sell (them) at the Ripe Market.”

When the girls heard of the Local Business Incubator Awards by retailer Spinneys, they wanted to participate in it. “My husband and I thought it would be a great learning experience for the children,” said Anupa. “We thought even if the girls could go on stage in front of the judges and say even a few lines from their presentation, it would be a great achievement for their age.”

Not only did the girls flawlessly present their idea, but they also beat off numerous other companies to win the award in 2021. “It feels like a fairytale for us,” admitted Anupa. “We never imagined that this would be the reality.”

'We take pride in our ingredients'

Since winning, it has been a whirlwind learning process for the family. “We had no clue how the industry worked,” said Anupa. “We learnt about manufacturing units, licensing and inspections. It took us a long time to find our way around. The girls won the competition in October 2021 but we were able to launch the product only last week.”

The product had a soft launch in Spinneys supermarkets all over the UAE and were sold out within 24 hours. Anupa said the keen interest was a testament to the hard work the girls have put into the products.

“We take a lot of pride in our ingredients,” she said. “We use no starches, no gums, no preservatives and no emulsifiers. We use the same recipe that we used at the start and we don’t buy processed chocolate bars. We buy vegan chocolate bars which we then chop by hand.”

The girls also designed the logo of their company on their own. According to Devi, baking is a learning process for her. “Each time I bake something I learn something new,” she said. “I want to tell all the kids out there, never give up, never stop learning.”

Devi also urged everyone to read the labels of things they buy. “Kids should read labels,” she said. “If it says on the pack it is healthy, it is not necessarily healthy. Always watch out for gums and artificial additives. Also, adults pay a lot of attention to calories. It is more important to look for the ingredients and how a product was made than just look at the calories.”


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