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Dirty Dough, Crumbl and the Utah Cookie War

The true tale of the Utah Cookie War and how it continues

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A cookie from Dirty Dough pictured. It seemed like the Utah cookie war had settled. Crumbl had gone where no other cookie company went before — it expanded to hundreds of locations outside of Utah. Instagram and TikTok influencers featured the quintessential (proprietary) pink box on its feeds with national conversation swirling around what cookie flavor the company would release next.

Dirty Dough

It seemed like the Utah cookie war had settled.

Ruby Snap, Chip, Baked and other companies popped up along the Wasatch Front, but only one really made it big.

Crumbl had gone where no other Utah cookie company went before — it expanded to hundreds of locations outside of Utah. Instagram and TikTok influencers featured the quintessential (proprietary) pink box on its feeds, with national conversation swirling around what cookie flavor the company would release next.

To even Utah cookie war aficionados, it appeared that Crumbl’s expansion signaled the end of the war. But has it?

Crumbl Cookie started in 2017 and Dirty Dough started in 2018. Some have assumed that Crumbl and Chip were the biggest cookie companies in Utah. Dirty Dough’s rapid expansion didn’t begin until 2021, but it began to expand even more quickly in 2022.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Dirty Dough started selling more franchises. According to a press release, from its humble beginnings in Tempe, Arizona, Dirty Dough has now sold more than 230 franchise locations in the last year alone.

Even though Crumbl is still considerably larger (with more than 600 franchises sold), Dirty Dough has expanded at a lightning speed. For comparison’s sake, the East Coast-based, nationally-recognized brand Insomnia Cookies has over 200 franchises.

While Dirty Dough has not become the sprawling empire that Crumbl has become, it has expanded at a similar clip-speed pace. Crumbl has been termed the nation’s fastest-growing cookie company, but Dirty Dough appears to be growing relentlessly.

Dirty Dough’s impressive growth has happened simultaneously as another event has been given national attention: the lawsuit at the center of the Utah cookie war.

Earlier this year, Crumbl Cookie filed two lawsuits: one against Dirty Dough and another against Crave Cookies. The lawsuit claimed that Dirty Dough infringed on the Crumbl trademark and that Dirty Dough’s marketing is “similar to Crumbl’s in both expression and look and feel, its cookies are dressed in a manner that imitates Crumbl cookies, and its packaging is confusingly similar to Crumbl’s packaging.”

After the lawsuit became public knowledge, Dirty Dough responded in August with a marketing campaign that has drawn increased attention (and scrutiny) to the lawsuit. The first move that the company made was working with EKR management to populate portions of Interstate 15 in Utah with billboards that read, “Cookies so good, we’re being sued!”

These billboards drummed up public interest in Utah. Dirty Dough had flown under the radar compared to companies like Crumbl and Chip, the two crowning jewels of the cookie war, but this lawsuit, ironically, put Dirty Dough on the map.

Shortly after the billboards lined Utah’s freeway, Crumbl CEO Jason McGowan took to LinkedIn to give a lawsuit update. McGowan posted a photo of a letter written on Crumbl letterhead, which read, “Dirty Dough has stolen trade secrets from Crumbl’s internal database. An ex-employee has turned over at least 643.7 MB of information that Dirty Dough had in their possession.”

Dirty Dough denied the allegations and continued to use the lawsuit to draw public interest.

This time, instead of billboards, the company began cooking up videos to poke fun at the lawsuit. One of the videos has more than 240,000 views on YouTube as of Wednesday. These videos include real verbiage from the lawsuit and act as a satirical critique of the lawsuit.

Dirty Dough made a handful of iterations of these commercial-style videos. After posting them on Instagram, blue-check influencers rushed to Dirty Dough’s defense or asserted that Crumbl was right to sue them — leading to a debate about whether or not the court of public opinion should rule in favor of Crumbl or Dirty Dough.

The attention these videos gathered sparked more national interest, this time from media outlets.

CNBC wrote an article about the lawsuit. “Good Morning America” also picked up the story and did a short segment about the lawsuit. Since it was posted on YouTube, it has accumulated almost a million views.

Crumbl has also continued to experience success.

While the company continues expanding its franchise reach (it is currently franchised in 47 states), it also has become the official cookie of the Utah Jazz.

McGowan posted a photo last month with the Jazz mascot, the Jazz Bear, displaying one of the company cookie boxes, made in a color similar to the hue known as millennial pink.

As these two cookie companies face off, some have wondered if an end to the war is in sight. So far, it doesn’t seem like it. The lawsuit hasn’t been resolved yet, but both cookie companies are continuing to expand.

Dirty Dough is expanding outside of Utah and Crumbl is already present in multiple states. Crumbl is already thoroughly a national brand and Dirty Dough seems to be an emerging one.

The tale of the Utah Cookie Wars will continue on — after all, that’s just how the cookie crumbles.