If you’ve ever been warned about the dangers of cookie dough, fear no more. A delicious – and addicting – solution has arrived in New York City. Meet Cookie DŌ, the brain child of Kristen Tomlan. Cookie DŌ offers an enormous variety of totally harmless cookie dough. Well, it might harm your waistline, but it’s totally worth it.
Located in a cheery space on 2nd Ave., Cookie DŌ offers 19 flavors, all super adorable, and super delicious. They even have a special DŌ just for dogs, so you can treat your pup too. I have tried 7 varieties of DŌ, but am eager to sample the rest.
I had the chance to talk to Kristen and gain some insights into Cookie DŌ.
Spoon: What did you study in college?
Kristen: In college I studied interior design. Not necessarily related, still very helpful for starting your own business because of the design.
Spoon: How did you get away from interior design and come up with the idea for Cookie DŌ?
Kristen: I was working as a brand consultant prior to starting this; I wasn’t really doing traditional interior design, it was more like branding and marketing. I always loved just baking on the side, so then I had this idea for DŌ and I wanted to just start this thing on the side. It ended up taking off after I launched it online so I left my job.
Spoon: How did you come up with the name DŌ?
Kristen: I wanted to be really simple and easy and memorable; with the circle logo and polka dots. I just wanted the name to be DŌ and be super simple. That’s what it is, it’s cookie dough and that’s what we sell.
Spoon: Do you remember when you made your first sale?
Kristen: We did kind of a test launch in December of 2014. It was really just like friends, family, word of mouth. People that we knew or friends of friends. That was exciting, it was like a trial period. It was exciting because we got orders from people and we had no idea where they came from, so it was kind of cool.
Spoon: Describe your process. Were you originally online only?
Kristen: Originally it was online only and everything was made to order. And then we got so many people walking in off the street just wanting to purchase, they hadn’t ordered online. Then we kind of shifted gears. We still do a majority of our business through our website but now we allow people to come in and purchase anything we have in stock. We try to keep everything in stock, we sometimes run out of things but that has been another big change in the business. Also, we do a lot of events, which we didn’t do right off the bat. We do a lot of catering, corporate, parties, birthdays, everything like that.
Spoon: Did you originally start in a home kitchen?
Kristen: Originally it was in my kitchen in Brooklyn. But I very quickly realized that it wasn’t possible to continue doing that, so we moved into this space (DŌ’s 2nd Ave. location). It was just meant to be a production facility and then we started accommodating walk-ins and last minute deliveries.
Spoon: Was it difficult while you were in your kitchen to produce a large quantity of DŌ?
Kristen: It was really hard because I also had my full-time job. It was like something I did nights and weekends. I basically just didn’t sleep for a couple months before I quit my job, and then was able to hire people and get this all set up. It’s much easier now.
Spoon: Did you make huge batches or have to get a big mixer?
Kristen: No, we still make everything in small batches. We just think that the quality and taste turns out better when we do it in small batches. So we still make everything by hand, it was just a matter of I was doing it by myself and it took much longer.
Spoon: When did DŌ start gaining popularity? What was the tipping point?
Kristen: It was really Valentine’s Day last year. We saw a huge uptick in the business, we got picked up by a couple different media outlets, like Refinery 29. It photographs really well so people were sharing it on Instagram and it just kind of grew organically. Valentine’s Day last year we were really like “Oh, this is something that is bigger than what we can handle right now.” So we had to make some changes as far as where we were doing it, staff, and all that.
Spoon: What do you think the main reason was for your success?
Kristen: I think it’s something that everybody loves cookie dough, and I think for the longest time people haven’t been able to eat it in fear that they might get sick or their moms always told them no. So just giving people the liberty to just dig in and eat as much as they want has kind of been something that hasn’t really been done in New York City before.
Spoon: Sometimes I eat a whole tub in one serving, but how many servings are supposed to be in one of those?
Kristen: We typically say a serving is about 4 ounces. So there is 2 servings in one 8 ounce but people definitely eat the whole thing, I do too. That’s just a recommendation.
Spoon: What is your favorite part of your job?
Kristen: My favorite part of my job is interacting with people and hearing how happy it makes people. Seeing the smile on their face and getting feedback that they really liked it.
Spoon: What was your first flavor of DŌ?
Kristen: First flavor was our Signature Chocolate Chip, which is our bestseller. My personal favorite is Heavenly, which is the sugar cookie-Nutella-salted caramel bits-chocolate chips.
Spoon: So the chocolate chip is your bestseller?
Kristen: Yes it is our bestseller and then second is Cake Batter. We keep it on our seasonal menu, it is always a flavor we have we just change the sprinkle colors for the season.
Spoon: What is the craziest flavor you have ever made?
Kristen: People are able to customize their cookie dough so if they say “oh leave this out” or “add this.” We have had people add in everything, like M&M’s and Oreos and sea salt and Nutella. They kind of create just like an everything cookie.
Spoon: I know you can bake it and you can eat it raw, is there a way it is supposed to be eaten?
Kristen: I wanted the product to be both because most people love eating it raw but there are people that only like eating it baked. In addition, they have a couple bites but then they also want to have some fresh baked cookies; so I wanted to create something that was able to do both. I would say that first and foremost I wanted it to be safe to eat in its unbaked state but then I still wanted the capability of baking it like you can any other regular cookie dough.
Spoon: How did you find out how to get it egg-free while raw but still get that same taste?
Kristen: It was a lot of experimentation, a lot of recipe testing, and asking friends and family to try different things. Just substituting different ingredients and finding the perfect one.
Spoon: I bet you can make pretty good ice cream sandwiches with the dough.
Kristen: We do. We do an ice cream sandwich in the summer, it’s two layers of our Signature Chocolate Chip cookie dough and then vanilla ice cream in the middle. It’s really, really popular. It’s yummy.
Spoon: Would you be team ice cream with the dough, or do you like it just by itself?
Kristen: I would say ice cream. I’m an ice cream fan.
Spoon: Do you ever get sick of the dough? I feel like I never would.
Kristen: Not really. I feel like ’cause there are so many different flavors and so many different things you can do with it, it is kind of like an endless combination. So if you do get sick of it in one way, there are still a thousand other ways to have it.
Spoon: Does DŌ have any plans to expand or do you go to any places like Smorgasburg in the summer?
Kristen: We do have plans to expand. We are looking at storefront space. We are looking at doing more in small markets and different ways to sell it, for sure.
Spoon: What’s a typical day for you? Do you spend all day baking?
Kristen: I don’t do very much of the actual making it anymore. I am today because one of my girl’s has a doctor’s appointment. Everyday is different which is kind of a nice thing about the job. It’s a matter of getting up, answering emails. I’m the one who does all of the photography and website stuff so there is always things to do with that. And Instagram. Everyday is different, one day we are making new flavors and testing out new things, the next day I’m helping out in the kitchen, the next day I’m having some meetings about different events and planning things that are coming up.
Spoon: How has social media impacted the business and its growth?
Kristen: It’s been huge. I guess I never really realized the power of Instagram. It’s something that I knew I wanted to photograph really well, and I think that desserts are something that people really love sharing with their friends and finding the newest, greatest thing. So it’s been great.
Spoon: What advice do you have for foodies or people who want to start a food business of their own?
Kristen: I would say figure out what you are most passionate about, and just go for it. See if there is somebody else in the industry that you can talk to, get advice from, even shadow them for a day or have an internship in some sort of food-related business. Just so you have an idea of what you are getting yourself into. There are so many different ways you can take it so if you test out one thing or you shadow somebody doing one thing you may realize this isn’t exactly what I want, and you may want to do a different part of the food industry. Especially in New York City, there are so many people you can get information from, talk to. Just go for it.
Spoon: What do you think one thing everyone should do before they finish college is?
Kristen: I would say, if they can, study abroad. I think it is a really amazing experience to study and be on your own and be in a new country and travel. Experience new things, new culture, new food, new everything.
Spoon: Is there anything else you want people to know?
Kristen: One thing that’s been unique about our product we do a lot of gluten-free and vegan and dairy-free and nut-free, trying to accommodate people that have allergies; which I think is nice because there are a lot of dessert places in the city but people that have restrictions can’t always eat at certain places so we like to accommodate everybody. We have a little bit less than 20 flavors and about 17 can be made gluten-free.
JUST DŌ IT!