Dewey’s began in 1930 as a small, regional bakery in Winston-Salem, North Carolina that is still in operation today.
“I like to think of us as a 90-year-old startup,”Ellen Howse, Dewey’s chief marketing officer, to FoodNavigator-USA.
The company began to expand beyond its small-town regional fame when Chris Livengood, former President and CEO of Krispie Kreme, bought the company in 2006. Livengood had a vision to expand the Dewey name beyond retail.
“He was very focused on e-commerce and branded products. We’ve started to break into retail over the past five years.”‘ Howe said.
Over the past year, the brand has really improved with a nationwide launch in over 2,000 Safeway Albertsons stores and other retailers including Schnucks and Stop & Shop.
“It gives us a real national presence and I think that will be a game changer for us,”noted Howse, who added that many retailers are looking for ways to expand their biscuit set.
“Retailers are really looking for new and different and relevant offers for their consumers. I think at the end of the day, cookies in particular are about unique flavors and textures. If it doesn’t taste good, nothing else really matters.” she said.
The fact that Dewey’s recipe for thin, crunchy biscuits didn’t vary much from his early baking times (with no artificial preservatives or other additives) has brought major benefits to consumers and retailers alike, Howse claimed.
The power of permitted enjoyment
Part of Dewey’s main appeal is that consumers feel like they’re still indulging without all of the guilt that usually comes with eating a handful of cookies.
Howse found that even the most health-conscious consumer is looking for small ways to indulge as part of a balanced diet. Mondelēz Internationals State of Snacking 2021 to reportfound that eight out of ten consumers agreed that some snacks should be purely for enjoyment or gratification without worrying too much about nutrition.
“You can have eight cookies, and it’s only about 15 to 16 calories per cookie. So it’s something you don’t feel guilty about eating.”‘ said Howse, who clarified that the brand is by no means positioning itself as a healthy cookie.
“We speak of our biscuits as a legitimate indulgence. There are a lot of ‘healthy cookies’ out there and certainly keto has had a huge impact on the category but I wouldn’t say we’re trying to be a healthy cookie. “she said.
TikTok, an unexpected partnership
Some might not expect a 92-year-old brand to lean heavily on TikTok trends, but a recent partnership with popular country mashup artist, influencer and North Carolina native Cooper Alan gives Dewey’s the authentic modern boost that it takes, Howse explained.
With over 7.5 million followers on TikTok, Alan created a video promoting Dewey’s cookies to the tune of rap artist Nelly “ride with me”song and uses the app’s duet feature to encourage other users to create their own Dewey’s videos.
“I couldn’t imagine a better partner at the moment. It gives us a new way to reach consumers without just throwing them an ad.”she said.
Maintaining its approach of balancing its local bakery heritage and modern marketing messages, Dewey’s has this year rebranded its entire line of biscuits with a refreshing yet authentic look and feel, which Howse says is resonating with consumers.
Along the road
Regarding its next steps as a brand, Howse explained that the company’s primary focus is on growing its presence in grocery stores and clubs (where it currently has a regional footprint with Costco in the Southeast) and entering new channels with differentiated product offerings.
“We recently introduced minis that come in a resealable pouch for on the go. This really opened the door for new distribution in C-store, specialty and airport accounts. It gives us a beautiful opportunity to find new consumers in new channels,‘ said Howse, adding that the fourth quarter will be crucial for the brand as it launches a slew of limited-time offerings of seasonal flavors and gifting options.
“We need to get as many samples as possible into as many hands as possible,” added Howe.
TUNE IN TO FOODNAVIGATOR-USA’S HEALTHY SNACKING TRENDS WEBINAR
Where does permissible indulgence sit in the healthy snack spectrum? Find out next Tuesday, September 27 at 11:00 a.m. CST at the FoodNavigator USA webinar on healthy snacking trends.