It all started with a partially eaten roll of store bought cookie dough.
"It was Halloween night, and I invited Sara over to help hand out candy," explains Jennifer Appleby Vines, co-owner of The Crumby Cookie Dough Co. in Waterloo. "Sara went to the fridge to grab a bottle of wine, saw the roll of cookie dough that had clearly been eaten and not baked, and asked me if I had eaten it raw!" That sparked a discussion about the perils of cookie dough. "The ingredients in the dough weren't all that great. We talked about how hard it was to get good cookie dough with interesting flavours and really good ingredients. And how you couldn't find one that baked into a great cookie, but that you could also eat raw - as people like to do!" The next day the two friends were still texting about cookie dough and cool flavour ideas. Jennifer started googling, and discovered raw cookie dough was becoming a food craze in the United States. "It was kind of perfect," she says, "so we jumped on the edible cookie dough trend."
At the time Sara and Jennifer were still working with the Charcoal Group of Restaurants (where they originally met and worked together). They thought their new business venture would be an interesting side hustle, and they incorporated The Crumby Cookie Dough Co. in 2018. They purchased a tiny trailer to sell their cookie dough out of, and decorated it to look like a 1962 kitchen. "That mid-century era really represents our values," Sara says, "It's about old-fashioned beliefs, like cooking with really good ingredients." The two would also dress the part, wearing polka dots and pearls when they were working in the trailer. "We are old-fashioned with an edge," Sara laughs. "We'll dress like the '60's, and then play 90's hip hop music like Notorious B.I.G!"
The first event they went to with the trailer was the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival. "We only did festivals that first summer," says Jennifer. "We treated them like market research for our brand. Then later that year we started wholesaling our cookie dough."
Both Jennifer and Sara feel they are different from a lot of other places making edible cookie dough. "For us, every dough we test we make sure it's made with great ingredients. We want to make cookie dough that parents and kids can enjoy, and that's safe to eat raw. However, being edible is a nice side benefit of our cookie dough: it also has to bake into a really good quality cookie."
In order to be eaten raw, The Crumby Cookie Dough Co. uses heat treated flour and pasteurized eggs in its recipes. They source local ingredients wherever they can, and try to keep things as natural as possible. "We have a dough called Rainbow Pony Show that has pink and purple swirls through it," says Jennifer. "We make the food colouring ourselves using beets and blueberries."
Having fun is another core value at The Crumby Cookie Co.. "We have a lot of fun together," Sara laughs, "and we impart that throughout our brand, including on social media and our website." Cookie dough names like Material Squirrel and Oats! … I Did it Again reflect their sense of humour. "When we're in the kitchen, sometimes the name for a cookie dough comes first, and then we have to figure out what's going to go in it!"
They've developed many partnerships as they've grown the business, forming 'dough-laborations' as they call them. "We collaborated with Red Eye Café and Donuts in Cambridge," says Sara. "They used our cookie dough in their donuts, and we used their donuts in our cookie dough." They've worked with Four Fathers Brewing in Cambridge on a Beer and Cookie Dough tasting event. "We're always open to new and different things like that." Their cookie dough can also be found in a number of locations, including on campus at the University of Guelph and Western University ("because cookie dough is the ultimate study buddy!")
About a year ago they decided to start looking for their own retail location for the business, and finally found one in Uptown Waterloo. "We had heard through the grapevine that Kultrun Market (on Regina Street) was moving," says Jennifer. "Uptown Waterloo worked for us on a number of levels. We wanted to be close to the core, we both live in Waterloo - it worked out perfectly." The new store is getting ready to open its doors to the public for what it's calling a Sneak Peak, happening Sunday, March 15th, 2020 from 1-7 pm.
"As a way of saying thank-you to our customers - we have a lot that follow us wherever we're going! - we're going to be offering free samples during our Sneak Peak," says Jennifer. "We'll also be selling cookie dough, and part of the proceeds will go to the Canadian Mental Health Association. We want to give back to the community, and that's an organization we both care about."
They're not calling this a grand opening, as they won't have regular store hours for the first few months while they fulfill events they've committed to. The goal is to have regular hours in place later in the spring, but for now the store will focus more on pop-up opening times that will be announced through their social media platforms. To help make sure any cookie dough cravings are covered, The Crumby Cookie Dough Co. is offering delivery through Uber Eats.
It's been a relatively quick and successful journey for Sara and Jennifer, and they feel fortunate their business has been embraced by the region. "This was kind of an unintentional slide into a different work style that worked out really well," says Sara. "We want our brand to bring a smile to people's faces and make them happy."
***Update: The sneak peak on March 15 has been postponed due to concerns about COVID-19. A new date has not been announced yet***