Businesses often come and go in the ever-changing cannabis industry, but Big Pete’s Treats has maintained success through its 14 years of operation. Founded in Santa Cruz, California in 2009, Big Pete’s Treats is a family-run business led by Pete Feurtado (aka “Big Pete”), his son, CEO Pete Feurtado Jr. (aka “Little Pete”), and daughter, Vice President of Sales Kate Feurtado. What started out as a humble kitchen endeavor has expanded to a multi-state infused edibles operation. Now over a decade since its inception, the founders behind Big Pete’s Treats have developed more than 10 infused cookie varieties using their full-spectrum cannabis butter while continuing to lead the edibles industry.
Over a Decade of Dedication
It all began in 2009 when Big Pete attended Oaksterdam University, a vocational school based in Oakland, California that includes a curriculum covering everything from cultivation, business, and policy within the cannabis industry. For Big Pete’s final project, he was asked to create a cannabis business plan, which eventually became the rough draft for Big Pete’s Treats. Around the same time, Big Pete’s son Pete Jr. graduated from a different college, and the serendipitous timing allowed them to work together and bake edibles at home. In January 2010, they sold their first batch of cookies, and they’ve been churning out cannabis butter and baking cookies ever since.
“We started as stoners, right? And we’re into business. But it started as us just being part of that cannabis community,” Pete Jr. says. “And so we live it and breathe it. It’s our life. This business is more of our life. This is what we do and it’s our lifestyle, you know?”
With over a decade of success, the Big Pete’s Treats product line has expanded to include more than 10 different cookie varieties. In the beginning, the company’s first cookies started with classic flavors: chocolate chip, peanut butter, and cinnamon and sugar. As time went on, the brand expanded to include double chocolate, peanut butter oatmeal chocolate, lemon, and birthday cake (all of which are available in both indica and sativa varieties). Two additional flavors, strawberry coconut and vanilla almond coconut are gluten-free and joined the lineup later as vegan, indica options using the brand’s infused coconut oil. Most of Big Pete’s Treats cookies come as “mini” sized, with each cookie containing 10 mg THC, and packaged with 10 cookies per bag (100 mg total).
Big Pete’s Treats has also collaborated with B-Real of Cypress Hill to make its indica-based Insane Churro mini cookies released in April 2021. Late last year in October, they also partnered with Mike Tyson to make singular, 100 mg oatmeal chocolate chip cookies—which happens to be Tyson’s favorite flavor—branded as “cookies that pack a punch.”
The Old-Fashioned Way
Plain and simple, the founders behind Big Pete’s Treats believe the key to success is in its full-spectrum butter.
“People love the taste of our butter,” Pete Jr. says.
Big Pete’s source cannabis directly from local Santa Cruz farms, and has had a lot of time to experiment and perfect the butter making technique.
“Instead of infusing our cookies with distillate—which anybody can make a cookie and throw a little distillate in there—we go through that long process to make the cannabutter,” Pete Jr. says. “That’s just more of a superior quality of product, and so we do it the old-fashioned way.”
Pete Jr. understands that anyone can find a guide to making infused butter online, but says the Big Pete’s Treats team embraces patience to make the butter that is never overcooked or burned, and is always delicious.
“It’s our own formula that we’ve perfected over the years. I mean, not a ton has changed, just like little improvements that we’ve made over the years,” he adds. “But it’s a three-day type of process. On the first day you cook it, the second day you pull it out of the kettle and process it, and the third day you clean it.”
On social media, Big Pete’s Treats proudly shows off videos of its butter-making process. The butter simmers in a massive kettle and is later strained and set aside to cool in numerous 12-quart food storage containers. Once cooled, it solidifies into light green-colored blocks.
Big Pete’s Treats butter has become so popular that last summer, they decided to start selling it directly to consumers. A single jar contains 4 ounces of infused butter and about 1,000 mg of THC, which can be applied to any treat or meal.
“We’ve launched our cannabutter jars, our cannabutter tubs, where people can now buy the cannabutter at the dispensaries and make whatever they want with it. They can enhance any meal with cannabutter now,” Pete Jr. says.
Supporting the Community
Working as a family is a joy for the Feurtado family and they all take pride in their products and the consumers they serve.
With their love for their hometown of Santa Cruz, in addition to their fondness for the ocean and the beach, they also host organized beach cleanups. Pete Jr. explains how they pioneered cannabis industry beach cleanup efforts back before they were licensed.
“It was also a way for us to kind of come out of the shadows and show the local government, the local people, that we’re part of the community,” Pete Jr. says. “We’re community members first, and then cannabis industry business people second. And so it was really a good way for us to kind of step out of the shadows and show the community that ‘Hey, we’re a cannabis company, we’re normal people.’”
The first of Big Pete’s Treats beach cleanups consisted of just friends and a few “dispensary folks,” but now those cleanup days have become huge industry events. Pete Jr. estimates that they usually collect at least 100 pounds of trash during each event, which has been held at beaches in Santa Cruz and San Francisco, all the way down south to Venice Beach and San Diego, adding up to thousands of pounds of trash collected overall.
Big Pete’s Treats can be found in California, Florida, and Arizona, but 2023 is going to be a record year of expansion for the brand, with plans to start selling in Michigan and Canada soon, as well as Massachusetts and New York in the future. Pete Jr. also confirmed that Big Pete’s Treats is expanding to create rosin gummies with three curated flavors this June in addition to their all-star lineup of cookies.
This article was originally published in the June 2023 issue of High Times Magazine.