Not many ready-to-bake cookie doughs in tubs are on the market, especially ones with ingredients that cater to consumers who not only seek a more healthy and natural lifestyle, but who also put “fun” as a priority of their day-to-day eating experiences.
For founder Alexis Chan, creating the Because Cookie Dough brand was all about fun, hence her brand’s name. “The name just captured what I wanted,” Chan chuckled. (For our readers that might be a bit older to get the joke in the brand’s name, The Atlantic wrote an excellent piece explaining how the word because has transcended its role as a subordinating conjunction into what linguists call “a prepositional-because.” Because linguistics.)
“There are a lot of healthy brands that come off too serious. I wanted to be a bit more fun and light-hearted but also healthier,” she told FoodNavigator-USA. “So you can share it with your family and friends, who aren’t necessarily vegan or [gluten intolerant] and they won’t think ‘this looks disgusting!’”
A gap in the market
Going with the fun theme, Chan opted for a tub format instead of the aluminum tube to package her cookie dough, because what’s more fun than eating something uncooked straight from the container?
“The tub format also lets you make the cookies whatever size you want. I don’t really like the break and bake format because I feel like they get your fingers all gross,” she said.
She launched her brand in 2013 not long after college, but had everything “seriously buckled down” in 2014. It all stemmed from her love for baking and consciousness for healthy food. “I like to bake healthier versions of desserts—but all the effort that it takes to get out the bowls, and then all the ingredients that are healthier tend to be more expensive than your average cookie and cake—I always am left feeling like I have to eat the entire batch because of all the time and money I spent,” she said.
“So I thought there would already be something similar, something with healthy ingredients and ready to bake products, but I didn’t find anything, so that’s how I came up with the product,” she added.
Chan started taking courses on nutrition online after graduating with degrees in international relations and marketing, but not finding a job that she fancied. She didn’t have much experience with the CPG industry before, but her father, who makes chilis and salsas, would bring her to Expo West ever since she was young.
“This was my first time exhibiting,” she said about this year’s Expo West last month in Anaheim, CA. “It was really well-received, I was really nervous at first because we got a spot at the last minute.”
The reception was “beyond expectations,” she described, and it probably had to do with her product marking off the checklist of what consumers are looking for in a healthy sack.
Through trial and error, Chan found that an egg, butter, and flour-less cookie could still be delicious and cookie-like with sorghum and almond flour. “Those are both whole grain in addition to gluten-free, so your body processes it slower,” she said. For sweeteners she used coconut sugar and dates. Other than the chocolate chip cookies, the products are entirely refined sugar free.
The varieties are Chocolate Chip, Vanilla Chai, Gingerbread, Lemon Chia, and Mint Chocolate, selling for around $10 for a 398 g tub. As of now, buyers can find them online or the freezer sections of specialty stores in California, but the hopes of wider expansion looks promising.
“Originally I focused on the specialty and natural channels, but at the Expo a lot of more traditional retailers that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise showed a lot of interest,” she said. “On a broad sense, [I target] anyone who wants to eat better and feel better. I know that veganism is growing, but I’m not really marketing towards vegan exclusively,” she said.
“I think it’s great if you want to be vegan, but I think wanting to eat a more plant-based diet is a good thing, both in a health standpoint and an environmental standpoint. It’s reflective of why I wanted to start the company,” she added.