Brownie Points (and Demerits)
When I heard about a new Manhattan late-night-snack delivery service called Insomnia Cookies—brownies and cookies brought to your door from 8pm to 3am—I thought: excellent. Not because I'm a chronic insomniac (only a sporadic one), nor because what I really want when I can't sleep are brownies or cookies (my cravings run more to Greek yogurt or grilled cheese). But I like the idea of a last-minute food delivery service that goes beyond the usual takeout options and stays open late. And I miss the days, back in the late '90s, when New York City had Urbanfetch and Kozmo.com, which delivered the kinds of (legal) things one might want post-10pm, other than pizza or Chinese: ice cream, snacks, DVDs, sundry items. I don't know why those services crashed and burned, but I suspect the chronically way-late, dazed delivery staff didn't help the cause.
Still, in a country where no business vacuum goes unfilled, it's strange that last-minute delivery services for foods other than greasy, oversalted takeout-restaurant items are so rare. Which brings us back to nighttime brownie and cookie delivery: A stellar idea, and even more impressive given that the service was started by undergrads at the University of Pennsylvania, who baked cookies for friends on campus in 2003 and have since built a business and expanded to 12 campus areas in seven states. (The Manhattan branch, based near the New York University campus, expanded with a new all-day retail shop last week.) But Insomnia Cookies still has some kinks to work out:
1) Last night at 9:53pm, I placed an order for a half-dozen assorted cookies and brownies (minimum order is $6) and was told to expect delivery within 45 minutes. At 10:40 pm, someone from Insomnia called to tell me they were out of brownies and did I want cookies instead. I changed my order to three double-chocolate-chunk and three peanut-butter cookies.
2) At 11:44pm, the cookies arrived in a small pizza-delivery-shaped box; cute, but the chocolate-chunk cookies were all smushed up. They were still a little warm, and tasty in a way that smushed-up chocolaty things tend to be. But the presentation was bush league. A for idea; B+ for flavor; D for delivery.
Isn't delivering a small box of baked goods easier than getting a big dripping pizza to a sixth-floor apartment? How can a brownie delivery service run out of brownies so soon after service begins? And what took the cookies one hour and 51 minutes to travel a few blocks from the NYU area to my apartment? Mysteries, all. Here's hoping a few more midnight-snack-loving entrepreneurs wake up and give Insomnia some badly needed competition.