The story behind Whoa Dough, based out of Cleveland, Ohio, is one that combines nostalgia and a commitment to inclusivity. Founder Todd Goldstein’s journey traces back to childhood memories of working in his family’s restaurant kitchen. “As a five-year-old, I remember helping the baker make cookies,” Goldstein said. “I would eat a ton of cookies, cake and bread because the restaurant had a scratch bakery.” Unfortunately, as Goldstein got older, the gluten-rich goods that once brought him joy started causing him discomfort.
During a dinner party in his early thirties, Goldstein’s friend shared that she was diagnosed with celiac disease. Concerned for his well-being, she suggested that he get tested, leading to the revelation of his own gluten intolerance. A few years later, Goldstein faced the same challenge with his firstborn, Henry, who was diagnosed with a gluten allergy. The same happened with his second son, Grayson. Having immersed himself in entrepreneurial endeavors since 2008, Goldstein envisioned an opportunity to create something indulgent yet still health conscious. Reflecting on his childhood cravings, the answer became clear – cookie dough. Whoa Dough officially launched in January 2021, catering to cookie dough enthusiasts without gluten.
Whoa Dough comes in a variety of flavors, with top sellers including Chocolate Chip, Sprinkle Sugar, Oatmeal, and Brownie Batter. Beyond being gluten-free, their products are vegan, plant-based, egg-free, soy-free, dairy-free, GMO-free, and OU kosher. However, the brand’s commitment to being “better for you” has evolved beyond the initial focus on being vegan and gluten-free. Whoa Dough transformed into a cookie dough snack bar, emphasizing lower sugar and calorie content. “It’s become a delightful treat for everyone,” said Goldstein.
Whoa Dough caters to a diverse demographic, appealing to children, college students, parents and grandparents alike. The K-12 crowd has been a particular focus for Goldstein as the brand aims to fill a gap in school cafeterias, providing students with allergen-free, plant-based, vegan options. Whoa Dough is currently sold in over 50 school districts nationwide and has become a staple for students seeking delicious and health-conscious snacks.
For Goldstein, the excitement of creating Whoa Dough lies in changing how people perceive and consume cookie dough. “Everyone loves cookie dough,” he said. “It brings you back to a time and place that makes you happy. It’s nostalgic.” Whoa Dough challenges the notion that enjoying cookie dough requires a bowl and a spoon. Instead, it can be an on-the-go treat.
Field marketing, influencer collaborations, and trade shows have been instrumental in introducing Whoa Dough to the public. With over 40 trade shows in the past year, the brand focuses on creating awareness and providing opportunities for people to try their snacks. As for the future, Whoa Dough is set to launch two new flavors tailored to the K-12 market and unveil a ready-to-bake sugar cookie. Whoa Dough can be found online, in various retail locations, and is making its way into more school cafeterias.
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