"I care about what goes into my body, so I'm interested in what goes into the cookie," Melnicoff tells New Times.
"I spent a few weeks in Paris and it struck me that they have no concept of diet foods as we know," he goes on. "But even though everything there is made with rich ingredients, most people are in good shape. It's all about quality."
For his BigDough Cookie line, Melnicoff eschews corn syrup, artificial food coloring, and preservatives. Cookies are made with products such as unbleached flour, brown sugar, high-grade vanilla and butter, and Ghirardelli or Valrhona chocolate. After baking, they're set out to cool at room temperature until they achieve peak moisture, then individually frozen in heat-sealed bags to maintain a crunchy exterior and a gooey center.
As the brand name suggests, BigDough cookies are larger than average, ranging in size from five to six ounces.
"My cookies are rustic and robust, but the ingredients aren't overpowering," Melnicoff says. "There isn't a dominant element and there's no sugar rush."
He posts a rotating list of options every Sunday on the virtual bakery's website he created earlier this year with entertainment designer Alan Andai. Friends for over a decade, the two entrepreneurs were working together on curated dining experiences when COVID-19 hit. While stuck at home, they decided to turn Melnicoff's baking hobby into a full-time venture. Flavors such as cinnamon and pear, pumpkin cheesecake, and banana cream pie, says Melnicoff, sprang from childhood memories etched in his mind.
BigDough cookies are offered individually, in a three-pack option ($15), or in a variety five-pack box ($25), with or without nuts, and shipped nationwide. The duo has plans to introduce gluten-free and kosher items, which like all others will get to customers at room temperature.
The company donates five percent of sales revenue to Big Dog Ranch Rescue, a nonprofit organization in West Palm Beach.
Since the launch, Melnicoff and Andai have moved BigDough Cookie's operations to a commercial kitchen in the Little Haiti area. The treats can be found at shops and cafés throughout South Florida. Andai says wholesale is the next logical step.
"We didn't know much about the food business before this, and we expected challenges from the baking end to understanding the market and learning about FDA guidelines," he says. "But we felt we were smart enough and have enough experience to overcome anything we stumble into and it's going great. We work well together and know that not everything is always going to go right, but still, we'll make it happen."
BigDough Cookie. bigdoughcookies.com.