HILLIARD, Ohio (WCMH) — A new brand of gourmet cookies has entered the ring in Ohio, fueled by popularity from an unusual source: getting sued.
Shera and Roger Markley, together with their daughter and son, opened Dirty Dough at 2495 Hilliard Rome Rd., near Hilliard. The shop features an arsenal of gourmet cookies along with add-ons like ice cream. The jump to Ohio is a major step from the brand’s origins in Utah and is part of an aggressive expansion across the U.S.
“My children actually grew up in Hilliard, so we chose Hilliard because the community’s really nice,” Shera said.
Every week, Shera said Dirty Dough has two to three cookie types that rotate in, while it has six staples that remain on the menu consistently. The Hilliard-area store in particular features some Ohio-themed options, including a Buckeye Brownie cookie.
“(People’s favorite) could be the raspberry toaster tart,” Shera said. “My favorite one is the brookie. It’s a three-layer cookie that has a brownie outside, chocolate chip cookie in the middle and caramel inside.”
Roger, who supervises the store’s operations, is particularly fond of the technology that Dirty Dough made available to them. The company uses specialized ovens to bake its cookies.
“It’s programmed by a USB port, it’s kind of an ‘e-oven,’ almost a ‘smart oven,'” Roger said. “If you look through the programming … it will change the temperature and the fan speed at various levels. So it will be set for the type of cookie or how many you’re doing at a time.”
Dirty Dough rose to fame on social media through what’s known as the “Utah cookie war.” The Markleys, whose store held its grand opening on March 25, said it was actually thanks to the battle that they became aware of the brand as a potential small business.
“I stumbled upon this concept when I was looking at Instagram,” Shera said. “Originally I was looking for a small business for my son to try to help him to build a business.”
The war started in 2022 when larger player Crumbl Cookie — headquartered in the western state — sued Dirty Dough and Crave, yet another sweet treat company, CNBC reported. Crumbl claimed that the two defendants stole its ideas of rotating cookie flavors, and Dirty Dough in particular infringed on trade secrets by taking Crumbl recipes.
Dirty Dough’s tongue-in-cheek response, alongside denying the accusations, was to have fun with the litigation. The company made advertisements and rented billboards in Utah with the underlying message: “Cookies so good — we’re being sued!” Its founder Bennett Maxwell told CNBC that the company saw a 50% increase in sales since the campaign began.
The case has yet to reach a verdict or settlement, but in the meantime, the Markleys and Dirty Dough continue to shell out cookies. Potential customers can find them at the new storefront, or order online at Dirty Dough’s website.