It was about a year after Hurricane Katrina hit when the Baton Rouge native Melanie Perkins Morris decided to try his luck in Houston. Looking for a more metropolitan area filled with opportunity, she first tried New York. “My plan has always been to move to New York, but when I visited it was too cold.” So when she started her own business, Mama Dots Candy Shop, it was in Houston, and it turned out perfect. “I love Houston,” she said. “You get that big city feel, but you also get that warm Southern feel. So many people here are from Louisiana as well.
The company’s namesake, Dot, is Perkins-Morris’ grandmother, Dorthy, who perfected her own versions of Southern desserts, including the classics Pecan pralines — fines that melt in the mouth, not the fluffy and sticky ones. The recipes were passed down to Perkins-Morris’ mother, then to Perkins-Morris herself, and these provided her with the basis for Mama Dots Sweet Shop. His pralines, however, have a twist. “I would say they are one of a kind. We have a few secret ingredients that I cannot share,” she said.
The pralines – available in packs ranging from 6 to 35 – are not only Mama Dots products. There are also innovations Louisiana Praline Brownies, where the praline candy mixture is adjusted to be a pecan-filled glaze. The regular and mini versions of the Praline sweet potato tart and Praline Candy Cake – a pound bundt cake – also get generous drizzles of frosting. At other times of the year, Mama Dots sells pecan pie and 7-up cake – a lemon Bundt cake with a frosting made with the homonymous soda.
Although the business did not have a storefront, it was nonetheless extremely successful. Perkins-Morris, assisted by a small team of mostly family members and a few entrepreneurs, sells online through the Mama Dots Candy Shop and ships anywhere in the United States. (It doesn’t hurt that Perkins-Morris has accounting and procurement experience from his previous jobs.)
The company also supplies select Houston area restaurants such as Blake’s BBQ and burgers and D’s Cajun Eats in Sugar Land, as well as specialty grocery stores such as Hébert specialty meats and Pyburn Farm Fresh Foods. There’s also been a big new development, as Walmart recently added the pralines to their website.
Perkins-Morris dreams of growing Mama Dots Sweet Shop to the point where they can start shipping worldwide. “A lot of [people in] other parts of the world don’t know what pralines are, so my goal is to introduce pralines to the world,” she said.
That certainly sounds like good news to share.