Big Pete's Treats
Big Pete Feurtado, daughter Katie and son Pete Jr.

Cookie by cookie, bite by bite, Big Pete’s Treats is winning the edible race to bake America. It’s conquest by cookie, and that’s a good thing. So good in fact that since Big Pete Feurtado and his son Pete Jr. started out in 2010, the Santa Cruz-based baker has grown to become one of the most successful brands of edible cookies in California. And when federal legalization of cannabis finally becomes law of the land, Big Pete’s vows to be everywhere in the U.S. wherever quality stoning materials are legally dispensed.

It all began gelling in 2009 when Pete Sr. attended Osterdam University, which is the cannabis college in Oakland, where he was polishing his cannabutter-making techniques. “For his graduation project,” explains Pete Feurtado Jr., CEO of Big Pete’s Treats, “they asked, ‘What cannabis business would you start?’ and he basically drew up the business plan for a cannabis bakery.”

At that time, Pete Sr. was going to all the stores, and even though recreational cannabis wasn’t legal yet, the medicinal market was gaining a toehold, with recreational just around the corner. “In 2009 there weren’t all the brands you see today,” recalls Pete Jr. “There wasn’t a lot of branding. At that time it was a cookie wrapped in cellophane with an Avery label on there.We don’t have a business background but we’re natural entrepreneurs. We saw the opportunity and we went for it. Back then, all you really had to do was just go for it. You kind of take the risk of, hey, we might get in trouble. You didn’t need a million dollars to start up, you just had to take the risk.

“We were really lucky to start back then,” he continues. “Timing has always been a great part of our story. When we started in 2010, it seemed like 150 stores opened up overnight in San Jose. We started our business by driving cookies to stores in San Jose, and from day one people just loved our cookies.”

That was all the confirmation they needed. They said to themselves, “we’re getting into this cannabis industry. We’re all stoners, and if we can be professional and have a consistent product, that’s going to set us apart from the rest. That was really our goal, have consistent product and be professional. The cannabis industry lacks some of that, to be honest.”

If timing has been a big part of Big Pete’s success story then the pandemic was timing of another kind. The pandemic produced a surge in sales of edibles, which has continued past the shutdown. “It was almost similar to the [panic-buying of] toilet paper,” says Pete Jr. “Definitely we saw a big spike in 2020, especially right after the shutdown. People were worried they weren’t going to be able to get their cannabis, and their meds in some cases, and then people were hanging out at home a lot. Overall, absolutely, we saw a spike. It also has to do with people getting educated, for sure, as well as more high-quality product and more stores.”

Long gone are the days of dry, tasteless cannabis cookies. Big Pete’s cookies are unique, says Pete Jr., because all their cookies are made with cannabutter. They make their own cannabutter from buds and trim in a three-day process where it’s cooked, processed, refrigerated, processed again and cleaned. “From there, we get it tested for potency, and that’s then how we ensure that each batch is a perfectly-dosed cookie.

“[As far as the taste] the key is really in our cannabutter. The slow-cook process that we use for our cannabutter allows it to have a not-overpowering cannabis taste or a burnt cannabis taste. You might have a slight hint of cannabis, just enough to know it’s there but, overall, the key ingredients, the peanut butter, the chocolate chips or the sugars will overpower the cannabis flavor.”
Why is the cannabutter so important? “Full-spectrum cannabutter means that we’re taking the plant and actually making that into cannabutter,” Pete Jr. explains, “so you’re going to get the full cannaboid experience from all the cannabinoids in the plant. I compare edibles made with a full-spectrum cannabutter or canna-coconut oil to smoking a joint compared to distillate, which be more like a vape pen, so it’s going to last longer, it’s going to hit you a little harder if it’s made with the full-spectrum cannabutter. Distillate edibles are still good. They’re easier to make and less of a process. Anybody can make an edible using distillate. But it’s our cannabutter – that’s what separate us from the rest.”

Looking back, Pete Jr. says they always knew they were on the right track from day one. “We believed in it the whole time. We knew cannabis was going to become legal, and we believed in it for sure. Definitely the story has not been written yet. We still feel like we have a long way to go, but at this point in time, it is amazing how far we’ve come. Just the business lessons we’ve learned over the years, they’re amazing. We’re not Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs. We went to school, but it’s been a natural learning experience, and we were lucky to start back in 2010 and slowly grow our business and learn business along the way.

“There were no guarantees by any means, but we believed we had a chance to make it, and that is what was so interesting to us in the cannabis industry. What other business could you get in on the ground floor back in 2010?”

Back in the early days, the business model was based around a single big cookie. A few years after launching, Pete Sr. and Jr. were attending HEMPCON and made small cookies for sampling, and a lightbulb went on. “This could be a game-changer,” Pete Jr. said back then. “That’s really when our business took off pre-legalization, in the medical days, because it was an easy cookie for people to dose. Back then a one-dose to us was 20mgs and now it’s 10. Most of that now is state mandated, and with the testing rules – the testing rules are not easy, but that makes it more of an even playing field.” Big Pete’s recently launched a 100mg cookie “for the experienced cannabis consumer.”

A decade in, having taken California, Big Pete’s has set new goals. “Our goal now is to be known nationwide as the cannabis cookie,” declares Pete Jr. “Right now we’re definitely up there in California as the leader in the cannabis cookies/baked goods category, but to take it to a national level is the next part of the story. Going national is really finding the right partners in different states. Hopefully, in the next few years we’ll get some type of federal legislation or de-scheduling. That’s probably still a few years away, as far as going over state lines, so in the short term we have to set up kitchens in other states. We launched one in Florida at the beginning of May.”

You might think Big Pete’s would go on automatic and just keep stamping out the cookies that has brought them renown, but they’re not standing pat on their flavors or products as they look to expand their reach. One of the items customers have asked for over the years, according to Pete, is a vegan-friendly product, and in response they recently launched a strawberry-coconut cookie. “It tastes amazing,” he gushes. “It might be one of our best-tasting cookies. It checks all the boxes. It’s made with vegan-friendly, gluten-free ingredients, and it’s sweetened with agave. We’ll probably have a full lineup of those cookies in two or three favors including vanilla and chocolate.”

About five years ago, Big Pete’s went through a re-branding, elevating their business from a true mom and pop, from a cellophane wrapper with a sticker on it, to a real consumer packaged goods “that looks like you would get it at the store,” says Pete Jr.

Another part of their recipe for success that has generated a lot of good will for Big Pete’s over the years is one of their biggest passions – beach cleanups. Pete Sr. and Jr. were both raised in Santa Cruz and love the ocean, and they’ve probably done about 50 beach cleanups from San Diego to Venice Beach, Santa Cruz and San Francisco. “It’s really become a great experience and kind of an event in the cannabis industry,” remarks Pete Jr. “Giving back to the community is really how that started for us. Hey, we were in this cannabis business that was kind of in the shadows. We wanted to come out of the shadows, and that was one of the reasons we did that. We wanted to show the county, hey, we’re real people. We’re community members first. People tell us we’re an authentic brand, and that’s because it’s a lifestyle for us, this is what we do every day. So it’s really just natural to us. It isn’t like we had a business plan. It’s a natural process.”

To find out more about Big Pete’s Treats, their products and good vibe, visit