RALEIGH – Remember the scene in Lethal Weapon where “Riggs” samples dog biscuits? Justin Miller laughs as he’s reminded of that movie-stopping moment after disclosing he’s personally sampled the new product of his new venture “Zookies Cookies” – animal treats he’s created that you mix with water and bake at home.

They are tasty, too, Miller assures a reporter.  “I’ve eaten a few thousand treats as I’ve experimented with the recipe, although technically it’s like eating granola bars,” he admits.

Justin Miller with one of his pet chickens

Miller, a relentless Triangle entrepreneur who cofounded and sold increasingly popular WedPics and is widely known as being passionate about animals, hopes the recipes he’s created will be his next successful venture.

“Trust us, your 4 legged BFFs are going to LOVE them! Oh yeah… we even throw in a dog bone cookie cutter :-)” Miller says on the firm’s website.

True to many an entrepreneurial success: It offers simple solutions to customer satisfaction. (See FAQ a bit later.)

Buy a jar. Mix with water, Makes around four dozen “cookies.” Bake for 45 minutes. It’s treat time.

“Mix. Bake. Tails shake!” Zookies proclaims.

“I want to do something”

On Thursday the former IBMer who is widely known for feet-to-shoulder tattoos disclosed through an exclusive interview with WRAL TechWire and through social media that “Zookies Cookies” is formally open for business, selling animal treats based on a recipe he created himself. The news comes a day after Miller announced selling WedPics to California-based Mixbook.

“So when I knew the end of WedPics was in sight, I started thinking about what the next opportunity might be,” Miller explains. “A lot of people offered a lot of different advice, and the most common was to take a vacation – take some time off.”


“Know know me – that’s not me. I want to do something,” he says. “And so I thought about what could I do net that I would be really passionate about doing.”

His thoughts turned to pets. After all, some of his “tats” feature creatures he loves. How could he do something that would benefit the pet brigade that roams his residence.

If only they could tell the secret of how Miller, who admits he is “not a chef” and no expert in the kitchen, began searching for some “critter crack” that would be tasty and good. So he mixed peanut butter, apples, and other all-natural ingredients, eventually creating the powder that water turns into a paste pets lick their lips (or chickens peck) for.

Other than himself, Miller didn’t have to look far for more testers.

His “taste committee” includes the 13 pets he keeps in his downtown Raleigh home – two dogs, a pig (Theodore) and 10 chickens. All are “rescue” animals.

Instant success

Miller created his own pet treats, looking for ways to provide them with healthy food. Then he thought: Why not sell the recipe via social media?

“In 24 hours, I made $1,600,” he says. “I gave the money to five different animal shelters.”

Thus the doors to Zookies Cookies began to open.

Miller has developed four different brands – all vegetarian, all gluten free – that are sold by the jar. Brands include Peanut Barker and Organic Pumpkin Pie.

Helping out

He’s partnering with another local entrepreneur, Tom Simon who sold his venture [Source3] to Facebook earlier this year, and the two are staying busy mixing the ingredients for Zookies Cookies while promoting the business.

They’ve also already lined up a huge supporter with Nationwide Insurance promoting the venture through its pet insurance product line. “We are working on a social campaign together,” says Miller, who needed pet insurance to help pay the cost of some $30,000 in operations for one of his pet. He’s excited to have the insurance giant on board, noting “they have more than 1 million” customers.

For now, Miller says he and Simon are going to fund the business themselves. It’s very hands-on as he says they are mixing recipes daily.

“Tom and I are doing this full time,” Miller says. But he assures that they will ramp up to meet what he hopes will be a rising crescendo of barks for treats.


Zookies Cookies

Zookies Cookies: Frequently asked questions

1. What do I need to have at my house to make these? WATER, and ONLY water (and of course a bowl to mix in. Oh, and an oven.)

2. Are these cookies safe for me to eat? YEP! Every ingredient is “human food”, meaning we took it from the same aisles of the grocery store where we shop.

3. How long do the cookies take to make? Mixing typically takes about 5 minutes. Cutting out the cookies takes another 5ish minutes. And then baking takes 45 minutes. That’s FAST!

4. How long will the cookies last? The ingredients can sit for up to a year (as long as you store the jar in a cool, dry place), and the baked cookies can last up to 4 weeks inside of the air tight jar (or refrigerator).

5. What if my pet has food allergies? Every Zookies Cookie recipe is gluten free. On top of that we offer several types of mixes, some which are allergy specific.

6. What if my pet HATES the cookies? While we’re confident we’ve created the most delicious treats known to animals, maybe your pet is an outlier, and it’s no problem. Simply let us know and we’ll refund your moolah!

Source: Zookies Cookies