Mera Tucker is already known for her cookies. Now she and her spouse Jimmie are putting their reputation to work
It all started with some Surly Bitches. Surly Bitch cookies, that is.
It was back in 2004, shortly after Mera and Jimmie Tucker first became a couple, when Jimmie showed Mera a cookbook that had been put together and sold as a fundraiser for the leather community in Portland, Ore. It was called The Doomed Rabbit cookbook, and one recipe that caught Mera’s eye was the one for Surly Bitch cookies.
She made the cookies — “The directions were like, ‘Put in the eggs and beat ‘em til they scream.’ It was a cookbook put together by the leather community, after all” — and they were a hit. Before she knew it, Mera had become known for the beautifully decorated — not to mention tasty — cookies that she and Jimmie donated by the dozens for all kinds of charitable efforts in the LGBT community.
“In the gay community, we do a lot of community building and a lot of fundraising in the bars,” Mera said. “Somebody was also looking for a donation for some kind of fundraiser. Jimmie and I couldn’t always afford to donate some expensive item. But we always had the ingredients for cookies!”
Now, some 13 years later, Mera is “semi-retiring” from her job with Neiman-Marcus, and she and Jimmie are setting out on a new adventure: Cookies not just for fun, but for profit, too.
As of Monday, June 26, Mera will be semi-retired from her job as the office manager for the service teams handling maintenance for Neiman-Marcus facilities in several regions. She had planned, she said, to retire completely, but her boss talked her into still working mornings four days a week. Most of the rest of her time she will spend on her own brand-new business, Tucker Inn Cookies.
“We never really planned to go into the cookie business, but it happened,” Mera said with a shrug. Jimmie added with a nod, “Yeah. It has really snow-balled.”
It was Angela Aaron Winchester [aka Charles Aaron Grimes-Winchester) and Jeffery McGuire, empress and emperor XXIX of the International Court de Fort Worth/Arlington, who were “the first to ask us for a large order of cookies” for a court event, Mera recalled. “We made snowflakes with stained glass centers. They were beautiful.”
She continued, “She was the very first one to give us a chance with a big order like that.” And after the former empress passed away early this year, her husband “asked me if I would take all of Angela’s cookie-making stuff,” Mera added. “It was a huge honor to me that he asked me.”
Tucker’s Inn Cookies has provided cookies for numerous coronations and other court events since then, for the Imperial Court de Fort Worth/Arlington and for the United Court of the Lone Star Empire in Dallas. (The fact that Jimmie was Emperor XXXVI for the Dallas court means the Tuckers have a special connection and dedication to the court system.)
Mera and Jimmie “donate cookies almost every weekend to somebody” — from leather community organizations and events like the International Leather Sir/boy contest, to court events, to TGRA and more. Every spring with the Texas Bear Round-Up comes to town, they bake up batches and batches of cookies and sell them all weekend long at the TBRU host hotel as part of the United Court’s TBRU bake sale.
“The first year [of the TBRU bake sale], we raised about $4,000 selling cookies to bears,” Mera laughed. “But we are equal opportunity cookie donators. We donate to all the organizations. In fact, I always say that I owe my artistic ability to court and the other organizations because they always have a theme, and it’s always a different theme. They’ve had every freakin’ theme you can imagine, and I have made cookies for every theme they’ve had!”
Mera and Jimmie’s homes — first in Oak Lawn, then in Richardson and now in Irving — have always been known as Tucker Inn, since they always seem to end up housing those who come in from out of town for events or who need a place to stay for whatever reason. Their recent move from Richardson to Irving has given them a chance to set up Mera’s cookie-making paradise, even though it’s a little smaller than their home in Richardson.
Now in the living room, she has her “office” set up — an armoire that holds the equipment she uses to decorate, like the dehydrator and the edible image printer and the enlarger that she uses to create logos and designs. There’s also a huge drawer full of “sprinkles,” because “you can never have too many sprinkles,” and a desk that holds her computer. That way she can watch TV while she decorates the cookies.
But it’s the kitchen and the “cookie rooms” in the back of the house where the wow factor lives. Huge boards on the walls in two rooms hold hundreds and hundreds of different cookie cutters, all meticulously arranged. More cookie cutters are housed in bins beneath the board in one of the rooms.
The other room holds a new, giant freezer where the dough and cookies can be safely stored, and a small round table, that can be expanded to seat up to eight people for the cookie-decorating parties she hopes to hold there.
The kitchen, complete with double ovens, offers plenty of room for the baking part of the process — a part that many people might not realize that Jimmie handles. “Jimmie does all the baking,” Mera said with a grin. “I always get distracted and burn them. Jimmie gets them just right.”
Jimmie also makes a mean batch of brittle, from the usual peanut brittle to her specialty, pecan and bacon brittle. (Yes, really. Bacon.)
And when there’s cake baking to be done, that’s Jimmie’s job, too. “I can’t bake a good cake to save my life!” Mera noted.
“I just love this house,” Mera continued. “It’s really nice that we are so centrally located now, and it’s not hard to get anywhere from here. And we have the house set up really well for the cookie business. I am really looking forward to the classes and the parties.”
Mera and Jimmie admit they have a bit of trepidation, as anyone would embarking on a new business venture. But they are going into it with a bit of an advantage.
“We’re kind of in a unique spot,” Mera said. “Because of the donations, we already have a following and a reputation. Still, we’re just now actually opening our own business. It’s a leap of faith. We’ll see how it goes.”
Finding Tucker Inn Cookies
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 23, 2017.