Choo! Choo!🚂 Our Polar Express Story!

Mariel in front of the Polar Express Train 2022


Sinful Treats Marketplace
We Keep Chugging Along!


  A Memorable Magical Time!
Mariel in front of the Polar Express Train 2022

Did you ever wonder how I got “on track” with
The Polar Express?

In December of 2010, my oldest son was then 4 years old. My husband and I took him on the Polar Express. It’s this big event put on by the Railroad Museum in Old Sacramento. They re-enact the movie Polar Express. Kids and adults would dress in their pajamas. They would have people in costumes singing and dancing on the train. They served cookies and hot cocoa, just like in the movie! Then, Santa would board the train and give everyone the first gift of Christmas, a silver bell. It was lots of fun! So, they gave out the cookies, my son took one bite and said, “Mommy, you should make the cookies”. I thought, why not, I should make the cookies.

The Polar Express Snickerdoodle Cookie
2022 – The Polar Express Snickerdoodle Cookie, by Sinful Treats


The Rest of the Story…

So, the following year, I got in touch with the event coordinator. My intent wasn’t to become their vendor; my intent was to find out how one becomes a vendor for such a big event like that. We chatted and I told her what my son said about their cookies. She thought it was funny and told me that they weren’t really happy with their vendor. That was my cue. I told her about Sinful Treats and sent her some samples. She loved them!


2011 – Our very first year baking for Polar Express! This time, Dylan LOVED the cookies!

2014_Santa_Boys_Cookie Bliss!

2014 – Santa stopped by for a picture with my boys.  Look at the bliss on Ethan’s face!

Just 6 Months Later…

By June of 2011, exactly two years after I started Sinful Treats with my husband’s unconditional support, the Railroad Museum placed an order for 19,800 snickerdoodles for the Polar Express.  My big break! I felt like I won the lottery and and thought, “Oh my God, almost 20,000 cookies? Two days later, it hit me. What am I going to do? I didn’t have a crew; I was a one-woman show. But, I made a decision to make it happen. I didn’t care if I had to do it myself.  I am going to bake 19,800 cookies. Or else, I’ll have 19,800 people pissed off at me.

Luckily, I had a few months to prepare. I called a few friends who didn’t mind earning extra money for the holidays. They were 6 amazing people, and we would work from 9 at night to about 2-3 in the morning. Then I would go home, sleep for a few hours and start my day all over again! Remember, I still have my two little ones to take care of, a house to keep and holiday orders to fill. It was the most exhausting experience ever, and yet the most exhilerating experience ever!

2015 Ethan_Dylan

2015 – Ethan and Dylan are proud of their Mom’s cookies, and are 
looking forward to another ride on The Polar Express.

2017_Polar Express Train Station

2017 – Waiting at the entrance to the magical Polar Express!

Challenges? We Had a Few…

We had other challenges to face too. We had to make the dough from scratch, the Sinful Treats way. Then scoop the dough – imagine scooping 19,800 times! (Actually more, because we made mistakes too. Shhh!) We baked the cookies, packaged them, sealed the bags with a heat sealer, and then placed sticker labels on them. All by hand, no fancy machines.

And there were 3 more challenges!

First, we could only bake at night after the restaurant closed for the day. We came in to bake like Santa’s elves in the night.

Second, the kitchen we were working in was the size of a walk-in closet.

And, third, they didn’t have a big convection oven for baking; they only had a regular oven with two racks. So, we could only bake 48 cookies every 12 minutes! You do the math.

Our goal was 1000 cookies a night, and we were supposed to baked 19,800 cookies in three weeks. It was insane! But we did it!

2018_Delivering cookies at the Train Station

2018 – Delivering thousands of delectable Sinful Treats
Snickerdoodles to the Rail Station! My boys have always been
involved with this business, helping every way they can.

2019_First Class Car With Santa

2019 – Here we are in the First Class car!
What could be better than Hot Chocolate and Snickerdoodles!?!

Mission Accomplished!!!

I remember when we baked that last batch of cookies’ the feeling of accomplishment was amazing. Knowing that you did something that most people probably would give up on; it’s an incredible feeling! Compare that to today where we can bake 9000 cookies in two days. Mindblowing! Then you go on the train and see all the kids eating your cookies and loving them. It’s the most rewarding feeling ever!

2020 – the ONLY year we didn’t bake.
COVID-19 cancelled The Polar Express.
This was the first Christmas we celebrated
without being surrounded by thousands of
cookies. It didn’t feel the same.

2021 Cookie Delivery_Derek and Mariel Black

2021 – Here I am delivering 47,000 Cookies – only 9,000 more to go!
Whew! And now, I can relax with my husband!


Channel 13 stopped by to share The Polar Express event with their viewers.

We’ve been baking Polar Express Cookies
since 2011.

This is our 11th year and we are baking 48,000
cookies – the most so far!


2022 - Mariel at the Polar Express Train Station with her Snickerdoodles

To date, we have baked close to half a million cookies for the Railroad Museum. Both for
The Polar Express and Spookomotive Halloween Train Ride.

Dylan is now 16 years old and The Polar Express has been a part of our Christmas tradition for more
than a decade. We’re grateful
for all the blessings and opportunities that come our way!

Dylan helping with cookies

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2022 – Sakura Gray, of Good Day Sacramento, interviewed me about my Polar Express Story.

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