By Amy Sorter
Sholey Klein, a rabbi and longtime Kashrus Administrator with Dallas Kosher, acknowledged frank skepticism when it came to the consumption of raw cookie dough. “My wife and kids enjoy it,” he said. “But I always looked at them incredulously. Why eat it, when you can bake it?”
But, after assisting The Dough Dough to obtain kosher certification (Dairy), Klein’s views on cookie dough have changed. Kind of. “I still don’t eat cookie dough,” he said. “But I tried some of theirs, and it was surprisingly delicious.”
The Dough Dough, on Forest Lane just off Preston Road in North Dallas has a safe, salmonella-free product offering ranging from old-fashioned cookie dough, to a peanut butter mix, to Nutella washout. The various flavors can be consumed from a container or cone. And, according to company founder and Gina Ginsburg, the move to Kashrut designation was an outgrowth of consumer demand.
The frequent entrepreneur
Ginsburg refers to herself as “non-Jewish, with a Jewish name,” by virtue of marriage to her first (ex) husband, Scott Ginsburg. She is also no stranger to entrepreneurship, having launched, run and sold two previous businesses, The Hair Bar and Diamond Affairs.
When it came to launching a third business, Ginsburg wanted to get her sons, ages 10 and 11, involved. Narrowing it down, a dessert place seemed the ideal way to go. “There were so many yogurt places around,” she said. “I wanted to try something new and unique.”
A trip to New York introduced Ginsburg to the concept of safe, edible cookie dough. When franchising the NYC concept wasn’t possible, she decided to launch her own company. She collected cookie recipes from her great-grandmother and others, then started “a lot of [research and development] for a good six weeks,” as she put it, with her kids as enthusiastic helpers. “This was all done in trial and error, and we did go through a lot of really bad dough,” Ginsburg said.
In the end, Ginsburg put the approved recipes into launching The Dough Dough in August 2017. In the early days, Ginsburg produced her concoctions in a commercial kitchen in Plano. She opened the Forest Lane retail location in March 2018 and currently has a second retail location under construction in Frisco.
Kosher consumer demand
The Dough Dough offers catering, as well as distribution through its retail location. As time went on, Ginsburg saw more requests for kosher treats.
“Growing up in the Preston Hollow area and living here for 20-plus years, I know that the Jewish population here is very high,” she said. “We realized that, with 30 percent of the population keeping kosher, we were tapping into a huge population that wanted our product. The community has been inclusive of me over the years. I wanted to be inclusive of everyone, as well.”
Thus began the six-month process of kosher certification, during which Ginsburg worked with Klein and Dallas Kosher supervisor Rabbi David Shawel. Klein indicated that Ginsburg and The Dough Dough staff were “very agreeable to finding the necessary suppliers,” which wasn’t always easy. Finding kosher marshmallows was a fairly straightforward process. Other ingredients, he pointed out, were not so easy to replace and required a little more research.
Equipment and tools also needed to be replaced and, the day before official certification, the ovens were shut down for 24 hours. The certification ceremony itself took six hours and involved blessing the equipment, tools and ingredients.
In the end, The Dough Dough was able to retain most of its core ingredients, with all but one product designated kosher. The one exception, Dog Dough, is made with non-kosher Milk Bone dog biscuits. Dallas Kosher worked with the company on a special operating procedure to manufacture the dog-friendly treat, “the first time we are allowing someone to do that,” Klein said.
Expansion, yes; kosher, maybe
The Dough Dough officially obtained certification on Dec. 10. Since then, more kosher-keeping Jews are arriving. “They’ve spread the word,” Ginsburg said, “And we’re very grateful.” She went on to say that she is evaluating whether there is enough demand to designate the Frisco store kosher. “For the time being, we can always produce kosher goods out of the Dallas location and deliver it to Frisco,” she added.
Ginsburg said The Dough Dough is licensed for expansion in all 50 states. Whether those franchisees will be required to seek kosher certification is another issue, largely dependent on location and ownership. “We’re exploring whether or not we can designate certain markets that must be kosher certified,” Ginsberg said.
Cookie-dough skeptic Klein cautioned that, as happy as he is to work with retail operations on kosher certification, it isn’t for all companies. “I tell companies that kosher certification has to be win-win,” he said. “Even if you increase your kosher customers, you might lose others.”
The Dough Dough, however, was fortunate, in that certification hasn’t impacted non-kosher customers. “They were able to keep their core ingredients and products, and to satisfy all of their regular customers,” Klein said. “They were successful in that win-win situation.”