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The Triangle Foodie Scene Makes Way For Dogs

Dogs wait in line for treats from the Waggin' Wagon.
courtesy of McKinney

The Triangle has some of the state’s most sought-after flavors: a recent slew of James-Beard Award semifinalists and Durham’s newest title, “Tastiest Town in the South,” have people chatting happily about the region’s good tastes.

But people aren’t the only ones that are enjoying the Triangle’s finest eats. In the past few years, dogs have been, too. Durham, Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Hillsborough – all have at least one source of home-baked dog treats, and the bakers are getting more creative by the minute.

Take the Waggin’ Wagon. It’s a food truck for dogs. Now, when you attend the nearest food truck rodeo with your pet, you don’t have to feel bad about not giving Fido a bite of your duck fat-fried tater tots or gourmet grilled cheese. Fido now has her own food truck.

The Waggin' Wagon.
Credit courtesy of McKinney
The Waggin' Wagon.

The Waggin’ Wagon popped up near the end of last summer, when Durham-based advertising firm McKinney awarded the animal shelter group Paws4Ever pro bono services that helped them launch the truck. Since its start last year, the biscuit-dispensing vehicle has been seen scuttling around the Triangle, hanging out at food truck rodeos, and lingering near dog walk events.

The volunteer-run Wagon serves treats from Gourmutt’s Bakery, a Raleigh-based bakery specifically for—you guessed it—dogs. Popular treats include the Bacon Fire Hydrants, Peanut Butter Bones, Chicken Parmesan Teddy Bears, and Pizza Bones. Gourmutt’s also specialized in supplying wheat-free and allergy-sensitive dog foods.

A selection of treats from Gourmutt's Bakery in Raleigh.
Credit Gourmutt's Bakery
A selection of dog treats from Gourmutt's Bakery in Raleigh.

The business opened its Raleigh store in 2004 and continues to grow, says owner Tina Musselwhite. She says that a recent rise in public awareness of pet nutrition has made customers “more interested in what’s going into their dogs,” today than they were years ago. Some of the more unique treats found in Musselwhite’s store and the Waggin’ Wagon include “Doggie Ice Creams” and biscuits shaped like cheeseburgers, beer mugs, and cupcakes. On the side of the wagon, you’ll find phrases “Woof it down,” “Tricks for Treats,” and “Happy tails.”

But the doggie jargon doesn’t stop there. Durham couple Scott Beaudry and Theresa Chu, who both hold non-canine-related day jobs, started their commercial dog biscuit baking venture last year, as a way to both recycle spent grains used in the beer-brewing process and to create tasty food for their dog, Barley. They now source their barley from Fullsteam brewery in Durham, and use it along with other natural ingredients in their home-baked dog treats, marketed under the name Barley Labs. (No alcohol makes it into the treats.) So far, flavors available include peanut butter and pumpkin.  Barley, the dog behind the biscuit-baking duo, runs active facebook and twitter pages. A tweet in March read:

The barley-to-biscuit idea is not unique in the Triangle. Bull City Burger and Brewery has been recycling their spent grain into dog biscuits for while now, too. They sell their product at their Durham location, as well as a few other retailers in the area.

A handful of other dog bakeries can be found in the Triangle, each with their own flair. National franchise Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming has locations in Raleigh and Cary. Morrisville-based Bone Appetit Bakery offers a range of creative treats, such as frosted dog biscuits shaped like mustaches, donuts, sailboats, and even a hot dog French fries combo they call the Yappy Meal. And Bark 4 Bones Bakery makes a range of dog and cat treats sold online and at Orange and Durham County retailers.

If you’re aching to make your own, and have a source for spent grain, here’s a recipe from reddit for dog biscuits made from grain left-over in the beer-making process (caution: this makes 288 cookies!).

  • 8 cups grain
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 cups peanut butter
  • 4 eggs

Mix all together with your hands, form into 1 inch balls, and bake overnight at 250 (or until really, really dried out). Makes 288 1" cookies.
Have you baked treats for your dog? Does your pet have a favorite Triangle bakery? Let us know in the comment section or onour Facebook page!

Laura moved from Chattanooga to Chapel Hill in 2013 to join WUNC as a web producer. She graduated from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in the spring of 2012 and has created radio and multimedia stories for a variety of outlets, including Marketplace, Prairie Public, and Maine Public Broadcasting. When she's not out hunting stories, you can usually find her playing the fiddle.
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