Craveworthy Brands is adding another concept to its portfolio: Dirty Dough Cookies.
Founded in 2018, the Provo, Utah-based “super-stuffed” cookie concept was made famous in 2022 by a lawsuit filed by competitor Crumbl Cookies, which alleged trademark infringement. That lawsuit was settled and was officially brought to a close earlier this month in U.S. District Court in Utah, paving the way for the acquisition, said Gregg Majewski, CEO of Craveworthy Brands.
Terms were not disclosed, but Majewski said Craveworthy acquired a significant stake in the nearly 60-unit cookie franchise and will serve as managing partner.
Craveworthy Brands is a portfolio company launched by Majewski last year and it now includes the brands Genghis Grill, BD’s Mongolian Grill and Flat Top Grill, as well as the more recently acquired Budlong Southern Chicken, Wing It On! and Krafted Burger Bar + Tap. Craveworthy is also developing a roster of virtual brands, like Lucky Cat Poke Co., to help franchisees add more revenue streams.
Dirty Dough now adds to those options.
Following the deal, Majewski will serve as Dirty Dough’s CEO. Dirty Dough founder Bennett Maxwell will continue to serve on the board as chair, and Majewski said he will likely move into a role with Craveworthy Brands.
In addition to the 55-plus units open currently, roughly 40 Dirty Dough franchise locations are under construction and another 250 signed agreements, with a total of 450 under development, according to Majewski.
The plan is to continue to franchise the brand but also to offer it as a co-branding opportunity for the group’s existing franchisees.
“I can take a 2,500-square-foot box and I only need 1,800 [square feet] for most of my brands,” he said. “I can put a Dirty Dough in the same facility and carve out the space.”
The deal includes a cookie dough manufacturing plant in Utah, where Dirty Dough’s dough is produced and shipped frozen to stores.
Majewski said the facility is currently underutilized, so Craveworthy plans to develop a frozen cookie dough product that could go into grocery stores.
“We can do almost $200 million out of that facility,” Majewski said of the manufacturing plant.
That move could open up more CPG opportunities for Craveworthy Brands, he said.
The Genghis Grill brand, for example, is developing several of its Chef’s Bowls as a frozen retail product with a co-packer.
“We can have one sales team selling both [Dirty Dough and Genghis Grill] products because they’re both freezer products,” said Majewski. “This opens the doors with the relationships we’ll be building.”
Crumbl’s trademark lawsuit sparked what became known as the Cookie Wars in 2022, as Dirty Dough took to social media to (rather amusingly) parody the larger “Big Cookie Company’s” claims.
In the lawsuit, Crumbl alleged that Dirty Dough copied the larger chain’s packaging and design. Dirty Dough vehemently denied the charges.
Without revealing the details of the settlement, Majewski said Dirty Dough has already complied with the agreement reached. The boxes used are common in the cookie world, he argued, just as pizza chains use similar boxes for their products.
“A box is not a proprietary item,” he said.
Dirty Dough’s cookies, however, are very different from Crumbl and the many other cookie brands similarly offering delivery and rotating menus.
Crumbl, for example, is known for large, thick cookies with elaborate toppings. Dirty Dough, on the other hand, stuffs its cookies with varying flavors.
A classic sugar cookie might be filled with raspberry jam and topped with icing and sprinkles, for example, or a peanut butter cookie stuffed with a chocolate cookie that also has a fudge filling.
Majewski, however, hinted there are changes ahead for Dirty Dough.
“As with every brand I come into contact with, there is an evolution,” he said. “We’re working on rolling out three other revenue streams with cookie-inspired items for Dirty Dough franchisees to become more successful.”
UPDATE: This article has been updated to clarify the number of units the company said are under development.
Members help make our journalism possible. Become a Restaurant Business member today and unlock exclusive benefits, including unlimited access to all of our content. Sign up here.