CHICAGO (WLS) -- We kick off Black History Month with a sweet treat!
A Black-owned cookie company from the south suburbs is expanding their reach to grocery stores.
There are currently 40 different Black-owned products in Jewel-Osco stores, and one of them is "Signature Sweets." They're turning a childhood memory into a booming butter cookie business.
The cookies were once handmade by CPS lunch ladies in the 1960s.
"The butter cookies were just that good, so instead of eating lunch that day, we would save money," said Marilyn Freeman with "Signature Sweets."
The recipe has been perfected by "Signature Sweets" CEO and baker Marcus Freeman. With the help of his mom Marilyn, a former CPS student, he said the final recipe was trial and error for three straight years.
"It was a very thin line," Marcus said. "I wanted it to really bring back memories, but I want it to be made with even better quality ingredients."
Those ingredients, once mixed together by just the two of them at their South Holland bakery, have gotten an upgrade.
Manufacturing company Talerico Martin is helping the Freemans expand their reach., from production to packaging to the stores.
"Signature Sweets" will now be sold in at least 50 Jewel-Osco stores across Chicagoland.
Political leaders and Jewel-Osco executives gave the butter cookie a thumbs up.
"They're that dedicated to their craft, and they really believe in what they do, and they know they've got a quality product," Jewel Sales Manager of Multicultural Marketing Jim Seidler said.
Jewel-Osco is offering a discount for Black-owned products through the month of February.
It's a dream come true for Marcus, who started baking when he was just four years old.
"He would always, always be in the kitchen mixing something up," Marilyn said. "I called him the 'Nutty Professor.'"
Whether you prefer the original butter cookie, or something new like chocolate and strawberry ice cream, the "professor" is now teaching a lesson of what happens when you don't give up.
"You're gonna get a lot of 'no's,' but you have to keep going," Marcus said.