The best part about baking is sneaking bites of raw cookie dough before it goes into the oven. However, the raw eggs and flour in the batter render it unsafe for consumption, and may even carry salmonella.
Victor Ong, co-founder of edible cookie dough brand DOHKIE, first discovered the delectable snack via Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough flavoured ice cream. He then quickly progressed to eating it straight out of the mixing bowl.
Fast forward to 2016, Edible Cookie Dough was popularised in the US by a few specialised shops which substituted the harmful ingredients in raw cookie dough with safe-to-consume ones. He subsequently also tried it for himself when he visited the US for a graduation trip — and loved it.
At that point, edible cookie dough shops didn’t exist in Singapore and he saw an opportunity to spread his love for the snack in the domestic market.
He proposed the idea of starting an edible cookie dough store to his co-founder Marilyn Cher, and the duo left their jobs in mid-2018 to focus on running DOHKIE full time.
Starting from a small takeaway stand
DOHKIE was founded in June 2018, and opened for business in October 2018 after months of experimenting, planning and conceptualising.
According to the founders, DOHKIE was started in a small and humble takeaway stand located in the basement of a secluded mall, since they were bootstrapped and relying completely on their savings.
Prior to opening the store, the duo took almost a year to come up with recipes that they were satisfied with. At that point in time, there wasn’t much guidance available, as edible cookie dough was a product that was very new to the world.
DOHKIE’s edible cookie dough is made safe-to-eat by removing the raw flour and eggs usually found in traditional cookie recipes. It is also made by hand in-house and not sourced externally or imported.
The process was also difficult as edible cookie dough is an unbaked product and is quite delicate. Every ingredient, proportion and step of the process significantly alter the end product.
“In the process, we took a very scientific approach to get our recipes down as we didn’t have prior culinary backgrounds,” said Marilyn.
Marilyn used to be a Graphic Designer in a design agency, while Victor was an “almost-lawyer” who was admitted to the Singapore Bar in 2018, but decided to start DOHKIE instead.
A dessert category of its own
As the business grew, the two founders re-invested the profits and moved into a much bigger street-level shopfront in 2019 at North Bridge Road to offer DOHKIE’s customers a better experience, and themselves a larger production facility.
The popularity of the brand is evident — it has managed to establish a loyal following on social media, been profitable since inception, and has seen a positive year-on-year growth since inception, despite the challenges posed by the ongoing pandemic.
This is mainly because product-wise, edible cookie dough is in itself unique in both taste and texture, differentiating it from other desserts and snacks.
It can even be said to belong in a dessert category of its own.
While the DOHKIE founders do not claim credit for it, as they did not come up with the idea of edible cookie dough, they were fortunate to have found the opportunity to introduce it to the domestic market and remain the only specialised edible cookie dough shop in Singapore today.
However, having a novel product, and being a first-mover, is a double-edged sword. While DOHKIE faces less competition since there are no other similar shops, the onus is also on the brand to create a market for its primary product.
Introducing an entirely new product to the market requires intensive consumer education in order for consumers to understand and adopt the product.
“This is even more so in our local context, where most consumers do not regularly bake at home, and thus do not understand the concept of cookie dough, much less edible cookie dough,” said Victor.
“As such, we dedicate a significant amount of resources to consumer education, ranging from teaching consumers about the product, how to consume it, store it and more.”
Spreading the love for edible cookie dough
According to Marilyn, DOHKIE was built on the foundation of fun, and constantly aims to bring joy to people through tasty and safe-to-eat edible cookie dough.
The first aspect we consider ourselves “successful” in is our ability to bring joy to our customers, who’ve come to understand and love our product and brand over the past 3 years.
It always touches us on a personal level when our customers show/express their happiness when they visit us, or when they speak to us. We’ve had customers jump for joy when they receive their orders, customers who fumble in their speech and actions from their excitement – and these are what keep us going despite how tough the F&B industry is!
Victor Ong and Marilyn Cher, co-founders of DOHKIE
Despite operational changes over the years, the team has always endeavoured to stay true to its brand values, identity and voice over the past three years, since it’s what the brand’s customers relate with and like them for.
The founders also shared with Vulcan Post some notes they received from their customers.
Even the brand’s cookie dough flavours were created to suit a different customer profile, as the founders understood that food preferences are highly subjective and vary greatly from person to person.
Despite the popularity of the brand, the founders do not have concrete plans to expand just yet.
“Being from humble backgrounds, we’ve always taken a more conservative, self-dependent approach towards operating and scaling our business. As such, we prefer to let demand and adoption lead our expansion, given that our product is one that is relatively new to the market,” said Victor and Marilyn.
In the meantime, they are happy whenever the brand or product makes someone’s day better and they hope to bring joy to even more people in time to come.
Featured Image Credit: DOHKIE