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Challah Dolly
Photograph: Courtesy of Dolly Meckler

The woman behind Challah Dolly sells challah baked in her NYC apartment

You can order Dolly Meckler's lovingly-baked challah over Instagram.

By
Bao Ong
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If you opened a social media app at any moment the past few months, you’d think everyone sheltering in place was baking crusty loaves of sourdough or feeding their finicky starters. But for Dolly Meckler, it was all about challah.

What started as a pet project to pass time for the native New Yorker—while living in Los Angeles earlier this year—is now a business Meckler operates out of an Upper East Side apartment kitchen.

Hello, Challah Dolly.

Challah Dolly
Photograph: Courtesy of Dolly Meckler

While Meckler’s business may conjure images of the famed musical, it’s a reference to the 28-year-old’s online web series and podcast Hello Dolly!, which she created and produced. A social media expert (she handled HBO’s accounts for Game of Thrones and Westworld), content creator and self-described storyteller, Meckler calls herself a “terrible cook” and had no intentions of operating a business baking challah.

But after moving to L.A. in October 2019 to pursue a career in entertainment, work was slow when the crisis hit. She wanted to bake like everyone else but decided to give challah a try after it was impossible to find the ingredients (mainly yeast) for sourdough.

“How is it possible that yeast and flour is out in LA?,” recalls Meckler. “I thought that no one here ate carbs, but people were eating bread in a global pandemic.”

She baked out of a Viking range in her West Hollywood apartment and started vlogging about her kitchen adventures—surprisingly, her first loaves of challah were a success (she had never baked before “except here and there I’d bake cookies with friends like on a rainy day or for a student council bake sale”).

“The New Yorker in me is too impatient for sourdough. I can't wait two weeks for the yeast to create a starter,” says Meckler. “You guys go have your sourdough, I'm going to go do something else.”

Her honest and funny documentation quickly gained a following. Soon, people started asking to buy her challah. A friend helped with the branding of Challah Dolly and another helped make videos. Meckler says she’s had more than 400 orders for curbside, contactless pickup over the past few months—all ordered through Challah Dolly’s Instagram account. She wraps the challah in tin foil and puts them into brown paper bags with a personal, hand-written note.

Meckler moved back to New York City this summer, but the demand for Challah Dolly has only grown (she baked 32 challot last Friday). She doesn’t offer deliver nationally but does sell three varieties: plain ($10, which was more popular in L.A.), everything seed ($12, the most popular in NYC) and honey cinnamon ($12).

Challah Dolly
Photograph: Courtesy of Dolly Meckler

Some of Meckler’s followers have even sponsored donations to places like The Harlem Community Fridge, one of the many fridges offering free food popping up all over the city to help food insecure communities. She says she’d love to possibly collaborate with a restaurant or bakery for a pop-up.

“I am one with the challah now,” Meckler says.

Challah Dolly
Photograph: Courtesy of Dolly Meckler

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