October 03, 1994 12:00 PM

FIRST THERE WAS THE WHEEL, then the printing press. Now comes the Double Decker Cookie Baker. Even before the Toll House inn began serving up chocolate-chip cookies, home bakers had to produce their own versions patiently, one or two trays at a time. But now two 12-year-olds who tired of the old-fashioned method have delivered cookie technology into the age of fast food, short attention spans and instant gratification.

Early last year as Lizzie Denis and Louise Kramer of St. Paul sat in the Denis kitchen making a big batch of chocolate-chip cookies tray by tray for their school’s Grandparents’ Day tea, they got impatient. “It was taking so long,” says Lizzie. “We thought, ‘Why can’t we do this faster?’ ”

After a brief brainstorming session, Lizzie, whose mother is a photographer and whose father is a surgeon, and Louise, daughter of a former teacher and an entrepreneur, hit upon the Double Decker, a frame that holds a stack of three standard-size cookie sheets. “You can do 10 dozen cookies—of a certain size, of course—at one time,” says Louise.

The girls gathered supplies from the back room of their local hardware store, where an employee, guided by their drawing, welded the pieces into a prototype. After L&L whizzed through their next baking session—the cookies, they claim, brown evenly and require no more time than called for in the recipe—they entered their contraption in the fifth-grade Invention Convention at their school, St. Paul Academy. It won first prize, which included an invitation to a dinner with a group of patent lawyers. They encouraged the girls to apply for a patent, which L&L have done. “My parents pretty much took it from there,” Louise explains. In fact, her mother, Irene Kramer, is now president of L&L Products Inc. and is busy introducing the girls’ invention into households nationwide.

The Double Decker has appeared at the National Housewares Show and in two cook ware catalogs. So far, more than 1,700, assembled by a St. Paul jobber, have sold at $20 to $25 each, and Irene Kramer hopes to connect with a home-shopping network and a major kitchen-supply store. “Maybe this will help send these girls to college,” she says.

Lizzie and Louise, though, have their own marketing strategy. They want to present a Double Decker to Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. “It’d be great for the White House,” says Louise. “And for us.”

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