Ready. Set. DŌ!
Kristen Tomlan has a pretty sweet job.
The former branding consultant knew she was onto something special when she launched her customizable cookie dough online and the response was overwhelming. Tomlan decided to quit her job and open up a commercial kitchen in Manhattan to pursue her baking (or should I say non-baking) dreams. She's only officially been open for a little over a year but business has been booming. From online orders and walk ins to creating the perfect party favor for weddings and Bat Mitzvahs, this safe-to-eat-straight-out-of-the-carton cookie dough concept just might be the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Speaking of bread...if you're staying away from gluten, you don't have to miss out on the fun. Tomlan herself lives a gluten-free lifestyle and created the menu with this dietary restriction in mind. All of the cookie dough bases, as well as most flavors, can be made gluten-free. DŌ also offers a vegan and dairy-free line of cookie dough for those looking for a healthier option. Even your pooch can enjoy a gooey Doggie DŌ!
I sat down with Kristen at DŌ headquarters to discuss cookie dough, Fruity Pebbles, toppings, chocolate, macarons, candy, fluff, sprinkles...okay, you get the idea.
How did you come up with DŌ?
I always really loved baking. It was a passion of mine since I was little and then with cookie dough in particular, I ended up eating most of it rather than baking it. I was working in branding and design and thought, this could be a really great fun concept - a customizable cookie dough where it’s safe to eat unbaked and baked.
What were your next steps MOVING FORWARD?
I tested the concept online instead of opening up a store (which was my original idea). It was hard for me to tell if it would be successful…there wasn't anyone else doing it. I tested it online, launched it, and it really took off.
What was your first cookie dough recipe?
I had a bunch. I had originally started with the five base flavors that we have today (see below) and experimented with those. The flavors really built on those.
How do you come up with new flavors?
We have a running list of flavoring ideas. We were just talking about how people come in here and say “Oh, you know this would be really good with xyz...” or people make their own suggestions and create their own combos. We definitely take from that and then we also think about seasonality – what colors would be good for spring, Easter candy, different holidays - xmas season has a lot of flavors we can incorporate. We like to have fun with it. We often do collaborations.
YES, WHO HAVE YOU COLLABORATED WITH?
We just launched our Fruity Mac Attack which is a collaboration with Dana’s Bakery. She makes French-style macarons with an American twist. We’re using her fruity cereal, macarons, and Fruity Pebbles mixed into our sugar cookie dough. It’s pretty good.
Have you had a recipe that just Didn't work?
You just can’t have everything in it kind of thing. It sounds like you can have favorite candies and flavors but you have to be selective on what you put in it. It’s like making a salad. If you put everything in it, it’s not going to taste good. You have to think about which flavors go together and what's going to be dominate and what’s going to be secondary.
What's your favorite flavor?
Heavenly is my favorite flavor (see video below). It has Nutella and chocolate chips. That one has a lot in it. It works because there’s sea salt – you get the salty and sweet. It's complex. Just layers with caramel bits that are really chewy and the chips are crunchy.
Are there any flavors you still want to try?
There's still always a list of things we want to do. We try to think three months ahead of time when we plan out our flavors. We just like to have fun with it.
Has anything unexpected happened since starting your business?
The whole thing is kind of a surprise because when I launched online, my expectation would be that I’d have to beg people to try it. As a new product, I thought I'd have to pitch myself and that’s not exactly how it happened. It's a great problem to have but we’ve had a lot of changes since we’ve started and each one has been a surprise. This (DŌ HQ) was meant to be a kitchen and pick up area but you had to order online. We got so many people walking up that we opened it up to customers. I never expected that at all. I never thought people would come up to the second floor kitchen space. The space is cute and fun and people have a good time here. I’ve been surprised a lot along the way.
How many customers do you get a day?
We get a lot. Typically from noon until 7 p.m. it’s pretty consistently busy. Saturdays are the busiest days for sure.
How has your business changed since you started?
It's changed a lot. It's grown and naturally it changes. Originally I was doing this in my kitchen in Brooklyn. I moved here and hired people to help. It was exclusively online and then the walk up business picked up at the end of the summer. Then the event business picked up – that’s a big component. We're slowly growing and seeing what works and doesn’t.
Tell me about the events side of your business?
A lot of people like to have us as party favors at weddings or bat mitzvahs, corporate catering, etc. People like it because the process is high touch, very hands on. They can design everything from scratch. They can customize their own flavor and personalized logo. We like to take each event and make it perfect for them.
Did you always want TO CALL THE COMPANY DŌ?
I always wanted to call it DŌ. It was always kind of my initial vision before doing anything or planning for the brand - the logo with just the "D" and the "O" with the line over it because that’s how you say it phonetically. It's simple, fun, playful and memorable. I didn’t want it to be too fussy. I also didn’t wanted it to say cookie dough even though it’s in the description. I really wanted the brand just to be dough and the circle logo to transform into polka dots.
Will you ever tackle other types of dough?
The cookie dough business is booming so we’re going to stay in this camp for now. We do have a cookie that's kind of like brownie batter. It’s our chocolate chocolate base. It's really fudgy and people say it tastes like brownie batter. It's cake batter cookie dough and it tastes like cookie batter but if you were to bake it, it would come out as a cookie and not a cake kind of thing.
What are some of your favorite cookies in NYC?
Tell me about your Gluten-Free line of dough?
It was important to me as I started to plan the business that everybody could enjoy something. Because my experience was difficult - it was always hard while everyone else was enjoying something. I kind of had to sit out of the dessert course. It was important to have a product that worked with people's dietary restrictions or lifestyle choices.
WHAT DO YOU SEE IN THE FUTURE FOR DŌ?
75-80% of people eat DŌ straight out of the container but we do have customers that come in to bake it. That’s why it’s made the way it is because people have the ability to do both. We certainly have a lot of exciting things happening so you'll have to stay tuned!
Let's break it down:
5) Bake the dough until your hearts content or eat it straight from the container with (or without) a spoon.
I WENT HOME WITH THESE THREE BATCHES ON FRIDAY AND THEY WERE GONE BY MONDAY MORNING.
But I did have a little bit of help. My doorman, Henry, enjoyed a scoop of Trail Mix on a cone.
I started to believe that DŌ could replace peanut butter and cheese spreads.
*Note to self: DŌ is delicious on top of a Thin Mint or Saltine. Not so much on celery sticks or melon balls.