- Nestlé has rolled out an edible cookie dough product under its Toll House brand. The company didn't formally announce the new item, but it acknowledged the debut by tweeting in response to reports of the product's existence from TODAY, CNN and Cosmopolitan.
- The product comes in two varieties — Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Monster and Chocolate Chip — and is labeled with "Do Not Bake" on the container.
- According to People, it is being sold at Publix stores and will also be available at Meijer, some Walmart outlets and regional chains throughout July. A 15-ounce container costs about $4.97.
While this product is a first for Nestlé, other cookie dough makers have successfully introduced edible cookie dough. Safe-to-eat raw cookie dough, sold in either shops or grocery stores, has become a bigger trend in recent years. New York's DŌ offers an entire lineup at a raw cookie dough store; the Cookie Dough Café serves up cookie dough in bars, jars and tubs; Edoughble has products available online; and Ben & Jerry's recently launched cookie dough chunks. Although there is a lot of competition in the category, Toll House's name recognition and reputation could give it an advantage.
Nestlé already seems to be taking full advantage of a stealth social media campaign touting its new edible cookie dough product. The product is attracting attention on social media from legions of cookie dough lovers who have probably been sneaking it by the spoonful since they were kids and would welcome a branded product formulated to be safer.
The company's new product might have to overcome concerns from consumers who have been cautious after all of the warnings from the FDA and a major recall of its signature dough. Nestlé Toll House refrigerated raw cookie dough saw a big recall 10 years ago for E. coli contamination after 72 people in 30 states were sickened and 34 were hospitalized. The FDA found a contaminated sample at the company's plant in Virginia and Baking Business reported the pathogen was later traced to flour. That sparked an ongoing public education campaign warning consumers about the dangers of eating any products containing raw flour or raw eggs.
Given the penchant for nostalgia, indulgence and the public's sweet tooth, cookie dough remains a culinary treat people want to try even when they know the raw product can be dangerous. And companies have worked over the years to create a safe-to-eat product.
Following the high-profile refrigerated cookie dough recall, Nestlé has started heat-treating the flour it uses in that product in early 2010. TODAY Food reported a brand representative said the edible cookie dough doesn't contain eggs and is made with heat-treated flour, which could help ease safety concerns.
If Nestlé keeps tight control over its production of edible cookie dough — and it's likely doing so after the 2009 recall episode — consumers will probably be willing to try it since they're familiar with the Toll House brand and may be curious to see what the edible cookie dough product is like.
Since this rollout may be a limited-edition one, it's not clear whether the product will become a permanent portfolio addition. However, the edible cookie dough is about twice the price of the regular, so Nestlé potentially has a lot to gain by keeping the new product around for further marketing and distribution if consumers like what they taste.