Isolated from the grey overtones of King Street West lies a splash of pink just east of Hess Street North. Walking into the space, you are immediately overwhelmed with the pleasant scent of freshly baked goodies. As your eyes gaze upon the pink shop, the show-stopping piece is the custom-made swing holding a hundred pounds of sprinkles. For Real Dough (256 King Street West) adds an escape from the downtown core by combining a bakery with the feel of a pop-up museum.

For owner Diana Smiarowski, the bakery was a chance for her to get a much needed change of pace. 

“We came up with [an idea to] mix an element of fun while at the same time my boyfriend was craving cookie dough… We looked it up and saw places in the States but there was nowhere permanent here that you could go. We kind of mixed the two together and we wanted to bring a feeling of nostalgia. I know lots of people [ate cookie dough] and snuck it when they were little. Coming into a place like this with the clouds, the pink…it’s just meant to bring you back to your childhood. We just wanted it to be a happy, fun place to come,” said Smiarowski.

For Real Dough is an immersive experience in the heart of downtown Hamilton that meshes the feel of a pop-up with decadent edible cookie dough. Ranging in simple flavours like  chocolate chip to more unique flavours such as cookie monster and dunkaroo. Select vegan and no gluten-added flavours are offered on the menu to ensure everybody is able to try the sweet treats For Real Dough has to offer. The bakery also boasts stuffed cookies, cookie dough paired with soft-serve ice cream and iced coffee served with cereal-flavoured milk with everything made in-house. 

“It’s about bringing a sweet piece of childhood back. We try and bring some fun, creative flavours that you wouldn’t find anywhere around…We see Hamilton growing and we just wanted to bring something to help it grow,” said Smiarowski.

Raw cookie dough is normally not recommended for consumption due to the inclusion of raw eggs and flour. For Real Dough uses pasteurized eggs and heat-treats their flour to allow their cookie dough to be fully edible without the associated health concerns of its raw counterpart. 

From conception to reality, the bakery was set to open its doors after a year and a half of planning and execution. With the giant spoons above the washroom, clouds hung above the tables, and neon signs mounted to the walls, the store was ready for its soft-launch in July 2019 with an unexpected turnout. 

“It was wild! There is always a fear of starting a new business but it has been amazing, especially seeing people come in here happy. They’re just in such a good mood and it puts you in a good mood,” said Smiarowski.

Although the bakery has a lot to offer, the menu is constantly changing with each week holding a new flavour in-store for customers. Basic flavours are kept; however, seasonal treats are swapped out to keep things fresh. 

“Our number of flavours are always rotating and we are constantly trying to stay innovative. It’s a nice escape for people to just kind of forget what’s going on. They’re walking back into their childhood.” said Smiarowski.

To Smiarowski and her team, For Real Dough is more than just a cookie dough cafe. It is an experience for Hamiltonians to feel transported away from their busy lives. Put your head in the clouds and enjoy the atmosphere that has been created to ignite your childhood self.

For Real Dough is not only the perfect place for your next Instagram post but it also has sweet treats that allow you to relive your childhood years without having to leave the city. This cookie dough cafe is not going anywhere, anytime soon making it a beautifully pink addition to King Street West.

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