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Categories: FEB/MARCH 2024, FOOD & DRINK, TRAVEL

Cory Jones: Central Georgia’s cookie ambassador

Story by Kristen Soles McCrackin

If you watch the Food Network or enjoy baking shows, you may recognize the name Cory Jones. The Unadilla, Georgia, resident behind Sweet Evelyn’s bakery first was a contestant on “Christmas Cookie Challenge” in 2022, but was eliminated pretty quickly. But he came back hot on “Holiday Wars” in 2023; his team won the competition.

Of his first experience, Jones said, “It went terrible!” He and another contestant were in the lobby discussing their creations for the upcoming episode and, “We both put bacon in our cookie. But she fried hers, and I used pre-cooked bacon. She won that episode!” Jones said.

However, he insisted he never would have won the second competition without the experience from the first. He learned new decorating techniques and expanded his network of contacts considerably, he confided.

So, by the time he moved on to “Holiday Wars,” Jones was ready for a win. “Holiday Wars” is a team baking championship-style show where teams are composed of a cookier, a cake artist, and a sugar artist. A sugar artist specializes in pouring liquid sugar, pulling sugar, or casting in molds.

About his teammates, Jones said, “We were randomly assigned. We did get to meet via Zoom before we went to Utah—we filmed in Park City—and get to know each other to do some planning, but never had I laid my eyes on these people physically until we arrived in Utah.” He continued, “One thing that the judges continue to comment on is how well our team worked together. I just don’t know what it was—we all integrated our expertise seamlessly every single week. How they put us together and made that happen, I will never know, but I would not have wanted any other team; I mean, it was perfect!”

The team won $25,000 and notoriety, and Jones hopes the win will lead to more Food Network appearances. “I always tell everybody that one day you’re going to see me judge that show and not actually compete on it, and I do feel like that is a realistic goal that I can eventually get to.”

He’s also seen more traffic in his storefront, Sweet Evelyn’s, located at 910 Carroll Street in Perry, where he’s sold thousands of hand-decorated drop cookies since he opened back in the summer. In fact, it’s not unusual for Sweet Evelyn’s to sell out of cookies on any given day. At this high-end bakery, where a single cookie typically costs $3.50, you can find a variety of clientele picking up seasonal specialties or customized orders.

Sweet Evelyn’s is known for elaborate cookie designs. Photo courtesy of Cory Jones.

Sweet Evelyn’s has quite the family connection for Jones. The bakery is named for his grandmother, Evelyn. He explained, “Evelyn was my nana who passed away several, several years ago. And I always knew that if I opened a baking business that it would be named after her. She had a real sweet tooth.” 

Jones’ mom also is involved in the business. Since her retirement, she has done a lot of baking to help Jones keep up with demand and free up his time to create new recipes and decorate the cookies. “When I got cast for “Christmas Cookie Challenge” last year, the joke was I was going to have to relearn to bake because she [my mom] was doing it all!”

Jones is thankful for the continued support he receives from the Perry community, showing his gratitude by volunteering his creativity and time. “I am the chairman of the Main Street Promotions Committee in Perry. We are the volunteer committee that produces things like the wine tastings that are held downtown, the tree lighting, the carriage rides at Christmas, and all those types of downtown events.”

One thing Jones thinks strange is finding himself a national ambassador for Central Georgia. “I don’t push myself on to others, but now realizing that being chosen for that show and coming from small town, Middle Georgia, it’s a lot bigger than what I really had in my mind at first. There are a lot of very talented people in the Middle Georgia area that do cookies, and they drive that interest and helped put me there.”

Jones also said, “My experience really shows that it doesn’t matter where you come from as long as you know where you’re going, and having those aspects like wanting to be bigger—if you set your mind to that—it doesn’t matter where you come from. I think that’s what matters.”

Visit the Sweet Evelyn’s shop to taste the cookie artist’s creations while you browse the curated collection of home goods, gifts, and gourmet treats. And follow them on Instagram and Facebook for many cookie-related updates.