USF students start frozen cookie dough business

Look out cookie dough lovers there’s a frozen treat for you around the Tampa Bay area. Fro-Dough is a new creation for Florida no matter the day or the weather.

Bree Sparks, sophomore, and Cameron Austin, freshman, a couple at The University of South Florida have combined the trend of edible cookie dough and the cold sweetness of ice cream to create Fro-Dough.

“People are super excited anytime they see it, they have to do a double take because it still is a really new concept,” said Sparks, founder of Fro-Dough.

For those worried about uncooked cookie dough making you sick, do not fear. Fro-Dough is completely harmless because it is made with safe flour and a replacement for eggs. Compared to other cookie dough companies it is unique because it is frozen. Many of the flavors are actually vegan or gluten-free.

Sparks is vegan and a huge cookie dough connoisseur herself. “Edible cookie dough has been like one of our many passions, like everyone else we love to eat it straight out of the bowl,” said Sparks.

There are a variety of flavors ranging from chocolate chip, sugar cookie, cake batter, brownie batter, sweet and salty and even a mixed berry cobbler flavor.

Vegan Brownie Batter is just one of the many flavors Fro-Dough has to offer around the Tampa Bay area. Photo by Deanna Salt

“Our flavors if we don’t absolutely love them, we don’t sell them and we freeze it. Not a lot of other people freeze it and in our opinions, it just makes it so much better,” said Austin.

While Fro-Dough does not have a specific location you can try free samples at many different events throughout the Tampa Bay area.

“We do markets around Tampa Bay like right now we’re selling every week on Wednesdays and Thursdays at USF Bull Market and we also do an array of events over the weekend that you can find on our Facebook page,” said Sparks.

Sparks and Austin have come a long way from when they first started making cookie dough for fun at home.

“It was pretty lengthy cause there’s really no instructions on doing it, especially like us, where we’re selling at markets rather than starting an actual brick and mortar place,” said Sparks. “It was a bit confusing to get licensed. We had to go through the Department of Hotels and Businesses and get licensed by them; a business license. We had to get our freezer, we had to get our trailer and perfect all our recipes.”

Fro-Dough uses a commercial kitchen in South Tampa where the whole dream comes together.

“This place helped out a lot because I went in here not knowing anything and I talked to the owner. She gave me a whole list of all the things that I needed to do which was super helpful,” Sparks explained.

After recently starting this business in 2017, Sparks and Austin have a lot of hope for Fro-Dough and want to open a physical location soon. They are partnering with a local non-profit, Keys to Kindness, which they will donate all proceeds from their Kind Blast-Mixed Berry Cobbler flavor.

Keep up with Fro-Dough on their Facebook page at Frodough.co and their Instagram @fro.dough.

New nonprofit shows the keys to kindness

Keys to Kindness is a nonprofit organization based in the Odessa community. It will open its new storefront Keys to Kindness Gifts, and Gatherings on Feb. 17, 2018. The store will serve as a platform for small businesses and connect the community.

Along with the motto of “be kind,” the slogan of this store is “buy a gift, make a gift, give a gift and be a gift.” Keys to Kindness is known for placing keys out in the community with a note about kindness attached. The founder and executive director, Sharri Cagle, receives help making these keys from her 14-year-old son, who makes them with his 3D printer.

“With the keys that are made, my kids are doing it, other kids are doing it, said Cagle. So, it’s a way for them to give back, and have hands in it. And it has a tag attached to it about kindness. And then we’ll attach them to the birdhouses and put them throughout the community, as well as just having keys placed throughout the community.”

Buying a gift aspect of the store, entails purchasing merchandise from small businesses that sell their products in the store.

“We really wanted to give it a hometown feel, said Cagle. So, we have different vendors in here from students that graduated last year and it’s their first year in college, who started up their own business, it’s incredible and inspiring. To a Navy seal who makes the most beautiful wood pieces. There is a neighborhood friend that makes candles and soaps, and a mom, who is helping put her kids through college, and makes fabric pieces, like dog collars and leashes. I like it cause it’s a good variety. Each gift is an intentional gift and has a meaning to it.”

The making a gift aspect of the gifts and gatherings shop allows customers to come in and paint or create a personal gift for themselves or someone on their mind. There are lots of wooden birdhouses, jewelry boxes, and other items that can be painted in the store. “And with the make a gift, you’ll get a free birdhouse; which is another way of us giving back to the community, and you get to paint it and we put it out in the community for you with a tag attached with one of our keys.”

Giving a gift and being a gift is also what the store gives customers the opportunity to do. The store gives the gift of holding workshops for book clubs, birthday parties and groups of all ages. It also is an important environment for Keys to Kindness to hold pet therapy for veterans suffering from PTSD or kids with special needs. The opening of a storefront will not only give Keys to Kindness an actual home for all their “kind causes” but will help people of the community be a gift of kindness to everyone around.

“Our grand opening falls on national kindness day, and we are asking the community to come together and help us put out 2,018 acts of kindness out in the community. So, when they show up they will get a free kind gift, and that’s one act of kindness being shared, and if they bring tennis shoes which is what we are collecting for those in need, that is another act of kindness. So, we are hoping to do 2,018 acts of kindness in one day.”

Come out anytime between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 17. The address is 8738 north Mobley Rd, Odessa FL to join all the grand opening activities. You can check out all the small business’ products throughout the store and get to meet the rescue dog, Sadie. There will be a bounce house and fun activities for kids, raffles and free kind gifts for adults and food catered by, Three Brothers pizza and Fro. Dough. You will not want to miss this out!

All media and story information, by Deanna Salt.