So many people love gooey, chewy Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chip Cookies, it's only natural they'd want the recipe. But it's a secret, says the company. Bakers have long tried to figure out the recipe themselves through a process called reverse engineering, but most want the real thing.
The intrigue surrounding the recipe became so intense, it gave birth to a popular urban legend, which goes like this: A woman and her daughter ask a clerk if they can have the cookie recipe. The clerk says sure, but it costs "two fifty." The woman hands over her credit card, gets the recipe, then later realizes she's been charged $250, not $2.50, as she'd assumed. When she calls the store to have the charge removed, she's turned down because she's already seen the secret recipe. So the woman e-mails it to everyone she knows, asking them to pass it on so it will lose its value [source: Watson].
"The secretness of the recipe helped to build the brand's early buzz, and got people to try the cookies ... and then tell their friends," says Jim Joseph, author of "The Experience Effect." "It's a great example of a trade secret driving the success of the brand."