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We’re not talking about tracking cookies. We’re talking about the kind we eat.

Despite the healthy food trend, people still like a sweet splurge now and then. The snack market is up and estimated at $300B in 2023.

The average American eats three or more cookies daily and 35,000 cookies throughout their lifetime.

That’s a whole lot of dough.

Cookie brands have been around since 1898, but consumers have always loved the smell and taste of fresh-baked cookies.

MULO (multi-location) brands have picked up on these trends and are launching and growing specialized brands geared toward unique treats that aren’t pre-packaged. The category has become highly competitive, and cookie franchises actively compete for that “share of sweet tooth.”

One of these cookie brands is Dirty Dough, a company originating in 2018. Founded out of Bennett Maxwell’s dorm kitchen, they started as a delivery-only brand. They opened their first storefront in 2020 and their first franchise in 2022. Funded mainly by franchise fees, Dirty Dough has also raised about $2.5 million from investors and sold over 365 franchises to about 100 franchisees. Currently, about 30 stores are open and operational. An additional 58 are under build-out.

Locations are selected based on population density, household income, and competitors’ locations, including Crumbl (850 stores) and Insomnia (230 stores). Dirty Dough’s typical buyer is a woman 30-55 years old.

Maxwell believes that Dirty Dough’s cookies are the only three-layer cookie in the world. The stores also offer gluten-free and protein options for health-conscious consumers.

Dirty Dough’s footprint is smaller than other brands and requires about half the labor.  Its camera system monitors weight times, busy hours, and traffic flow, enabling management to analyze operations and marketing data.

Technology also enables Dirty Dough to run highly-targeted marketing programs, automate customer feedback, and manage its loyalty program.

Says Maxwell, “We also plan to use artificial intelligence (AI) to measure each cookie’s diameter and ensure the appropriate amount of toppings and drizzles.

Combining a timeless in-demand product with today’s technology, Maxwell aspires to build a sweet, satisfying, and smart company.

Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.