By: Mary Fran Bontempo

Crazy Susan’s Cookies in Ocean City, NJ

 Few things compare to the sweet treats summer visitors enjoy at the shore. But Ocean City, NJ plays host to one deliriously delicious offering that transcends not only the summer season, but the coastal location as well.

This past summer, the Food Network premiered the program Tough Cookies, featuring sisters Susan Adair and Linda Brand and their multigenerational, occasionally squabbling, but always loving family as they produce the delectable goodies at Crazy Susan’s Cookie Company.

Lucky for me, the shop, at 1345 West Avenue in Ocean City, is a short bike ride away from my summer home. Truthfully, though, for these treats, I’d two-wheel it all the way from Bucks County, PA. (And yes, they ship everywhere, so continue reading even if you’re not a “local.”)

John MacNorton and Lori Gaspari

On the day my daughter and I visited recently, in-law John MacNorton (his daughter, Meredith, married Susan’s nephew, Michael) and first cousin Lori Gaspari were holding down the fort at the charming, red and white themed storefront. John, recently retired and the only full-time Ocean City resident, cheerfully noted that he was more than happy to help out at the store and lent more than a passing hand during early renovations, leading Susan to dub him her “Mac Daddy,” a title that stuck, particularly as it was mentioned on the Tough Cookies program.

Lori did her best to clarify the family connections while she worked among the cookie racks, but conceded that it was “a lot to keep straight.” Frankly, after a few minutes, I gave up, content to note that Crazy Susan’s is full of family, love and for a gal with a sweet tooth, the most amazing cookies I’ve ever eaten.

A case full of yum!

 With flavors like Almond Joy (self-explanatory and my personal favorite), Candy Lover’s Delight (a chocolate chip cookie topped with milk chocolate and your favorite candy bar), and the famous Crazy Turtles (cashew chocolate chip topped with creamy caramel and milk chocolate and featured on the Rachael Ray Show), there’s something for every taste. Plus, Susan never stops inventing new flavors, such as the seasonal fall sugar cookie with pear and cranberry fruit topping—yum! The cookies are soft and chewy—in other words, perfect, from the first bite to the (Boo-Hoo!) last.

Susan Adair (cutout) and Crazy Susan’s merchandise

 We caught up with Susan herself to find out the story behind these taste bud treats. Here’s what she had to say:

NRFGP: Where did the name “Crazy Susan’s” come from?

Crazy Susan: We were trying to figure out a company name when I made some cookies for a family gathering. My cousin, Peter, asked who made the cookies. When someone said, “Susan,” Peter said, “Crazy Susan?” and Crazy Susan’s was born!

NRFGP: Obviously, you have both a love and a talent for baking fabulous cookies. When did you decide to take your talent and turn it into a business?

Crazy Susan: In 2006, after my cousin, Joy, died at age 42 from ovarian cancer. I said to myself, enough is enough. I need a change in my life. I need to follow a dream.

NRFGP: What was the first cookie you ever baked?

Crazy Susan: Well, I remember baking Italian cookies with my grandmothers as a child. But when I came across these chocolate chip cookies that my best friend, Jill Snell, used to make, I went wild. It took me a few years to get the recipe from her mother as it was a guarded secret recipe. I’ve been baking them since my early teens.

NRFGP: How do you come up with cookie ideas and what’s your best seller?

Crazy Susan: To tell you the truth, I just read and observe. I can be anywhere, see a certain food and the wheels just start turning. How can I incorporate that into a cookie? It’s really not that hard. Anyone can do it. It just takes practice and a little imagination. Our best seller has always been our chocolate chip, with the Crazy Turtle right in tow.

NRFGP: On your Food Network show, Tough Cookies, there’s lots of interaction with your family. Is the business truly a family-run affair? How many generations of family contribute to making Crazy Susan’s Cookies a smooth running operation?

Crazy Susan: Have you ever been in our store? It’s all family. Who else could you get to work for free while you’re building a business? There are actually five generations in the store. I don’t know if I would call it “smooth running.” I would consider it more “organized chaos.”

NRFGP: To follow up, just how “smooth-running” is the operation? Does having family involved in the business make things easier or more difficult?

Crazy Susan: It is never “smooth-running.” Of course, having a family operation does make it easier. You can call someone at the last minute and tell them to get to the store. Too bad if they had plans!

NRFGP: How has your life changed over the past few years?

Crazy Susan: I’ve had many changes over the past few years. As with anyone, some things are wonderful and then there are the heartbreaks. The cookie store is actually a blessing. You are with family constantly. We are very open with each other and able to discuss our feelings. So whether it’s happy or sad, our lives are a constant psychiatric session.

NRFGP: What’s next for Crazy Susan and her cookie empire? What’s next for the family?

Crazy Susan: We are actually opening a second location in Voorhees, New Jersey shortly. As for the family, whatever happens or wherever this path may lead us, we are together forever.

It doesn’t get any sweeter than Susan, her cookies and her wonderful family. Crazy Susan’s cookies are gourmet delights not to be missed. With the holiday season coming up, consider sending some Crazy Susan’s cookies to those on your gift lists who deserve a treat. Better yet, treat yourself! Visit the website at or call 609.391.1919 or 609.314.0429 to place an order and look for Tough Cookies on the Food Network Channel.