Saul family comes together to create edible cookie dough

Published 12:02 am Sunday, March 20, 2022

SALISBURY — The Saul family has gathered in a demonstration kitchen in downtown Salisbury for work, but it takes just one wisecrack from son Matt for the task at hand to make way for fits of laughter.

“I tried to hold it in as long as I could,” Matt said, his smile undermining his half-hearted apology.

As the family chuckles together, Emilia, the youngest in the room, stands on a chair looming over a gleaming silver bowl of cookie dough — the reason why everyone showed up at the Heart of Salisbury after a day of working their full-time jobs.

The Saul family joins forces twice a week to make and package the tasty product, which is sold from a food truck and by direct order under the name Holy Cookie Dough. There is real work that goes on during these evenings, but it’s also a genuinely good time.

“This is usually what it turns into — a laugh fest,” Robert said. “We have fun with it.”

Spending quality time together as a family is exactly why Robert and his wife Melissa initially pitched the idea of starting a business with their eldest son Luke, wife Brea, and youngest son Matt, wife Destiny, in December 2020.

The family knew they wanted to do something with food and took inspiration in an edible cookie dough store they loved to visit in Concord. But Melissa’s love for cookie dough started when she was a child, long before the concept of “edible” cookie dough hit the mainstream.

“I grew up in a household where my mom baked cookies all the time and it was one of those things that you don’t eat the cookie dough, or you do eat the cookie dough at your own risk,” Melissa said.

The same cookie recipes her mom used are the recipes Melissa started tinkering with to make edible cookie dough. Only to make the product safe for consumption, she had to take out certain ingredients like eggs and heat treat other ingredients like flour. The process of perfecting the product was not without trial and error.

“What we just started doing was eliminating things to see if it would still be the right texture and consistency,” Melissa said. “The whole thing is you want the experience to be like you’re licking the bowl.”

There were plenty of batches thrown out after one unsatisfactory spoonful.

“There was lots of money thrown into the trash can,” Robert said. “But you have to get to the point where you taste it and say, ‘That’s it.’ ”

When they finally landed on the right mix of ingredients, the result was well worth the effort.

Destiny’s 7-year-old sister, Alyssa, was one of the first to offer a glowing review.

“She was one of my little test rats and so I sent her cookies and cream, which is her favorite,” Melissa said. “She takes a bite and says, ‘Holy cookie dough.’ ”

A name was born.

“That’s what you want people to say when they eat it,” Melissa said.

Confident in their product, the Saul family ordered a custom-built food trailer with the idea of selling cookie dough at local events. With most of the materials needed on backorder, the trailer wasn’t set to arrive until March 2021. Then they got word that their trailer wouldn’t be ready until June.

Determined not to let the setback stop them, the family started leasing the demonstration kitchen at Heart of Salisbury and began offering porch pickup for customers.

“We make it here, package it here, take it home and put it in a cooler that people pick it up from,” Melissa said.

After placing their order online, customers fetch their tub or tubs of cookie dough from an outdoor cooler under the family’s carport. The family has enjoyed seeing people, both new customers and familiar faces, arrive to pick up their desserts.

“You’d be surprised at how many pickup trucks pull into our driveway with camouflaged men with spoons in their hands,” Melissa said.

The trailer eventually arrived and Holy Cookie Dough has become a mainstay at weekend events in Rowan and Cabarrus counties, where they serve cookie dough by the scoop like ice cream out of their trailer window. They’ve spent the day at local hospitals and have partnered with nearby schools in addition to other community events.

Holy Cookie Dough serves about 12 signature flavors, but also offers a rotating seasonal menu featuring flavors like strawberry shortcake for Easter and a Christmas concoction made with Little Debbie Christmas tree cakes. Original chocolate chip has been the company’s top seller, but Melissa thinks newly released roasted espresso could rival it in popularity. The family recently developed a flavor called Cheerwine sugar cookie, which will debut at the Cheerwine festival on May 21.

Despite only advertising through Facebook and by word of mouth, Holy Cookie Dough has already gained an avid following of cookie dough devotees.

“We started out with maybe 20 jars a week and now we’re making 20 to 30 gallons of cookie dough a week,” Melissa said.

The venture’s success still shocks Robert.

“Who would’ve thought this would explode like it has?” he said.

The family’s next goal is to add a second trailer, but more than anything they want to keep having fun making cookie dough together.

“This is what we do together as a family,” Melissa said.

More information can be found on Holy Cookie Dough’s Facebook page or by emailing holycookiedough@gmail.com.

About Ben Stansell

Ben Stansell covers business, county government and more for the Salisbury Post. He joined the staff in August 2020 after graduating from the University of Alabama. Email him at ben.stansell@salisburypost.com.

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