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If you live in Minnesota — or anywhere in the North, for that matter — you know the significance of the annual Minnesota State Fair. Although the multi-day affair has been canceled this year, devotees are still excited at the chance to enjoy their favorite fair fare with the Food Parade. At the top of their lists? Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar. We chatted with founder Martha Rossini Olson to get the inside dish on this year’s drive-through fair, her tips for baking mouthwatering cookies and more.

How long have you been baking cookies for the Minnesota State Fair?

We started selling our oven-hot, baked-on-the-spot chocolate chip cookies in 1979.

When did you realize your chocolate chip cookies were going to be a State Fair hit?

During our first year at the State Fair, we sampled a lot of our cookies. And with each sampling, we received a positive response and gained a new customer. This feedback gave us an inkling that we might be onto something, but we never thought we’d be where we are today.

Photography provided by Sweet Martha’s Cookie Jar

This year’s fair looks a little different. What can drive-through fair goers expect?

We’re absolutely thrilled to participate in the Minnesota State Fair Food Parade with our fellow vendors. It’s definitely going to be a year unlike any other! Drive-through fair goers will be able to order our take-home pail of chocolate chip cookies, water and milk. The cookies will be freshly mixed and baked onsite as usual but safely delivered to fair goers’ cars by our cookie crew.

The first-ever Sweet Martha’s merchandise line is dropping. What inspired this launch?

We’ve discussed launching a merchandise line for a while. Over the years, some of our fans have requested apparel. When the fair was canceled earlier this year, we thought this was the perfect opportunity to move forward. My daughter, Jen, played a major role in getting this off the ground. Her background in the fashion industry helped us decide which items to include in our inaugural collection. She’s also behind the limited-edition tie-dyed shirts we’re offering in our launch.

Everyone knows you for your fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies. What is something most people don’t know about you?

People may not know that I’m also a self-taught home renovator. I grew up watching my father construct different parts of our home from the ground up. My husband and I have actually flipped a number of houses over the years, including my son and daughter-in-law’s home.

Any tips for baking the perfect batch of chocolate chip cookies?

Know your oven.

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