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Meet the Cookiers, Home Bakers With a Bond Stronger Than Royal Icing

Category: Food & Drink,Lifestyle

Last year, Food Network introduced “Christmas Cookie Challenge” with Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, as lead judge. Cookies shaped like hands bearing engagement rings are serving as a way to announce pending nuptials. (One London jeweler recently offered each bride a cookie replica of her hand, and ring, ready-made for posting on social media.)

Behind all those little iced art pieces is a distinct community of like-minded people which rose up on the shoulders of cookiers who were feeling isolated, and who valued supporting each other over competition.

“It formed because — and I don’t know a better way to say it — we needed to find people who were as crazy as us,” said Callye Alvarado, 37, a cookier from Lubbock, Tex., who goes by the online name Sweet Sugarbelle. Ms. Alvarado, whose husband works in the oil fields and who has four children at home, is by most accounts the founder of the modern cookier community.

“We call her the queen,” Ms. Metoyer said. “Seriously, I worshiped her when I started all of this.”

The two have since become close friends and teaching companions. Ms. Metoyer runs a cookie shop in a former Chinese restaurant in Hermosa Beach she named Sugar Dayne after her oldest son.

Ms. Alvarado graduated from making cookies as gifts for friends to selling cookies from her home kitchen. Now she has given up large-scale baking altogether, and instead spends her time designing a line of food-coloring pens, cookie cutters and other tools that she sells at craft-store chains and on the Home Shopping Network. She is known for her cute, simple designs and for reinterpreting the cookie cutter so each can be used for more than one design.

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when the latest wave of cookie decorating began, but it was likely about 10 years ago, when crafters and other hobbyists began to find each other in large numbers on platforms like Flickr and Facebook.

Now, Instagram is the cookier’s playing field (Ms. Alvarado has 173,000 followers), although there are more than 100 Facebook groups organized by cookiers.

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