Dough Grow

A Detroit company introduces safe-to-eat cookie dough and eyes a national expansion.
Daniel A. Washington and Victoria Washington at a Detroit Dough popup
Daniel A. Washington and Victoria Washington man their Detroit Dough popup at Cadillac Square. // Photograph by Jacob Lewkow

Detroit Dough, located in Detroit’s NW Goldberg neighborhood, just south of Henry Ford Hospital, is capitalizing on one of childhood’s guilty pleasures.

The company makes safe-to-eat cookie dough that’s sold at ice cream-style counters across metro Detroit. The next step is to grow sales outside the region. Flavors include chocolate chip, peanut butter, sugar, brownie, and Hold my Chips (chocolate chip sans the chips).

The inspiration for the business arose when Autumn Kyles, co-founder and CEO of Detroit Dough, visited a similar store in New York City in June 2017. She told her boyfriend, Daniel A. Washington, co-founder and chief marketing officer, about the experience, and they decided to open a similar business.

Victoria Washington, Daniel’s sister, rounds out the team as co-founder and COO. In late 2017, the trio was awarded a $6,000 grant through Dolphin Tank, a pitch competition hosted by Michigan Women Forward (formerly the Michigan Women’s Foundation).

Available in 4-ounce and 6-ounce cups, the dough doesn’t use raw ingredients. To prevent bacteria from forming, flour is baked before it’s added to the final mixture, and eggs are eliminated altogether.

Production began at home, and in early 2018, the company started using a manufacturing space on Detroit’s east side.

After a few popup sales, the team decided the product line would do best at area venues. Detroit Dough is now available at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, and is also sold at Detroit City FC games at Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck, Michigan Stadium and Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, most MJR Digital Cinema locations, the Michigan Science Center in Detroit, Jimmy John’s Field in Utica, and the Athletics Center O’rena at Oakland University in Rochester Hills.

Detroit Dough won first place in the 2019 Quicken Loans Detroit Demo Day in June, earning a $200,000 zero-interest loan. It also received the Crowd Favorite award, which included a $25,000 grant. The company landed a marquee spot in the Downtown Detroit Markets in Cadillac Square, which was open during the holidays.

The ownership team hopes to eventually create its own commercial kitchen and distribution center, and all three partners  agree their lives have been enriched by the enterprise. Kyles says she didn’t expect to create a company, but enjoys working with people she loves. For Victoria Washington, the single mom of a 3-year-old daughter, the business affords her flexibility.

Daniel Washington says having a business in the city where he and his sister were raised, and where his family has owned property for generations, is rewarding. The company, believed to be the first in the nation to offer cookie dough at movie theaters, donates 5 percent of its annual profits to local projects.