Calling on the QSR market

Cookie dough is not a new product, but it is becoming a platform for new products, said Corporate Research Chef Dale Conescenti, especially in the quick-service restaurant industry.

“It creates excitement in the category. Customers show us how to use (inclusions),” he said.

The “a-ha” moment for Rhino Foods came when it found that regional distributors were selling millions of pounds of cookie dough every year to mom-and-pop businesses, said Daniel Kiniry, the director of marketing. QSRs were using baked inclusions in shakes and as toppings for frozen yogurts. One customer created a limited-time-offer caramel-flavored shake with brownies and cookie dough. (“This was a dessert, not a shake,” Conoscenti said.)

Rhino Foods set about learning how to formulate ingredients for use in quick-service restaurants where the ambient conditions are different than those found in grocery stores. For example, ingredients might be sitting next to a hot grill, the top is left off the storage container and the temperature around the fountain area is 85 degrees with high humidity, Conoscenti said. Inclusions for QSR applications are “more forgiving” than those used in long shelf life packaged ice cream because of less moisture transfer from the dairy to the baked piece.

“When you put an ingredient in a dessert or a shake, it has to hold its shape,” he said. “Every piece is a system that has to function in its environment.”