Joseph Masone took a frilly looking, cream-filled sandwich cookie from the supermarket's sample tray, nodded thanks to the servers, and went to take a bite. Then he saw the box's label: Sandwich Cookie Treat For Dogs. Masone, 83, put the cookie down.
On the other side of the table, loyal Three Dog Bakery workers quickly began making their case -- their product is so fetching that humans also will lap it up.
Three Dogs Bakery managers were in Manhattan grocery stores this week to promote their new sandwich cookie that looks like an Oreo cookie, but is made with carob instead of chocolate, which is bad for dogs. Like all the company's products, the treats, called "Lick 'n Crunch," are made entirely with human quality ingredients.
Masone was skeptical at first, but he bit the cookie, mulled it over, and declared he liked it.
The Three Dog Bakery workers brought a few treats outside to give to Tommy, Masone's poodle, and he seemed to enjoy it even more than his owner.
Masone said he was sold.
"Me and Tommy will eat them together," he said, with a box of cookies under his arm.
Three Dogs Bakery sells biscuits, cookies, cakes, and meals, and while the company boasts that the food is good enough for humans to eat, it's intended for dogs.
"We're not trying to market to humans," said CEO Robert Islinger. "We're trying to explain that there's pet food and there's a new category called food for pets. So many Americans feel their pet is a member of their family, and that's who's our customer."
Kansas City-based Three Dog Bakery hopes its unconventional model can grab a chunk of the $14.5 billion Americans spent on pet food in 2005.
And the executives say they can vouch for their products because they've eaten them.
"We eat every treat before we give it to a dog," said Islinger. "I've eaten most everything." The Three Dogs cookies are more expensive than traditional dog treats. Food Emporium sells a box of the Lick 'n Crunch for $5.99, while Iams dog biscuits sell for $2.99.
If the shoppers at a Food Emporium grocery store Wednesday were any indication, the company might stand a chance.
"I know it sounds crazy, but if there's nothing in the house, there's a cookie you can share," said Sue-Anne Greenfield, who has two poodles at home.