Baton Rouge Native Finds Her Calling in Houston With Online Praline Business

You can now listen to Phaedra Cook’s interview with Melanie Perkins-Morris on Houston Food Finder’s Houston Restaurant News Today podcast, and subscribe with your preferred podcast app! 

It was about a year after Hurricane Katrina hit when Baton Rouge native Melanie Perkins-Morris decided to take a chance on Houston. In search of a more metropolitan area filled with opportunities, she’d first tried New York City. “My plan was always to move to New York, but when I visited, it was too cold.” So, when she started her own business, Mama Dots Sweet Shop, it was in Houston, and that proved a perfect fit. “I love Houston,” she said. “You get that big-city feel, but you get that homey Southern feel as well. So many people here are from Louisiana, too.”

The company’s namesake, Dot, is Perkins-Morris’s grandmother, Dorthy, who perfected her own versions of Southern desserts, among those, classic pecan pralines — the thin, melt-in-your-mouth ones, not the chewy, sticky ones. The recipes were handed down to Perkins-Morris’s mom, and then to Perkins-Morris herself, and these would provide her the foundation for Mama Dots Sweet Shop. Her pralines do have a twist, though. “I would say they are one of a kind. We’ve got a couple of secret ingredients that I can’t share,” she said.

Melanie Perkins-Morris
Melanie Perkins-Morris in her home kitchen. To be clear, she makes Mama Dots’ desserts in a commercial kitchen. Courtesy photo.

The pralines — available in package sizes ranging from 6 to 35 — aren’t Mama Dots only product. There are also innovative Louisiana Praline Brownies, where the praline candy mix is adjusted to be a pecan-filled glaze. The regular and mini versions of the Praline Sweet Potato Pie and Praline Candy Cake — a Bundt pound cake — also get generous pours of the glaze. At other times of the year, Mama Dots sells pecan pie and 7-Up Cake — a lemon Bundt cake with icing made with the namesake soda.

While the company does not have a storefront, it’s been extremely successful nonetheless. Perkins-Morris, assisted by a small team of mostly family members and a few contractors, sells online through the Mama Dots Sweet Shop and ships all over the United States. (It doesn’t hurt that Perkins-Morris has experience in accounting and procurement from her prior jobs.)

Mama Dot's Pralines
Mama Dot’s Pralines are made in Houston and available for online ordering. Courtesy photo.

The company also supplies some Houston-area restaurants such as Blake’s BBQ & Burgers and D’s Cajun Eats in Sugar Land, as well as specialty grocers such as Hebert’s Specialty Meats and Pyburn’s Farm Fresh Foods. There’s been a big new development, too, as Walmart recently added the pralines to its website.

Perkins-Morris dreams of growing Mama Dots Sweet Shop to the point where she can start shipping worldwide. “A lot of [people in] the other regions of the world don’t know what pralines are, so my goal is to introduce the world to pralines,” she said.

That certainly seems like good news worth sharing.

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  • January 21, 2022 at 4:04 pmEvelyn

    I wish you the best.