Oliver Bentley biscuits blend Southern sweetness and old-world tradition

By Janet Kinosian
Updated May 03, 2010 11:45 AM

Where do you keep your dog treats? Chances are they’re in a cupboard somewhere, slyly concealed from the outside world (and your pooch’s curious nose). Well, Eric Zimmerman aims to change that.

An asset money manager by day, Zimmerman also loves dogs (particularly Cavalier King Charles spaniels) and set out to create a healthy doggie treat with attractive packaging – one that you wouldn’t want to keep under wraps.

“I wanted to take my love of dogs and healthy eating and put them together, using only high-quality ingredients and quality artisanal packaging, the kind that one could proudly leave out on the counter,” Zimmerman, who lives and works in Savannah, Ga., tells

The idea jump-started when the history buff found a centuries-old sea captain’s diary about a Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Ollie B. who helped save King Charles’s life. Suddenly, an idea for a name took hold: Oliver Bentleys Barking Bakery, Ltd.

But first he needed a tasty recipe. So for two years, Zimmerman attempted to create an all-natural, handmade dog cookie by studying canine digestion and taste. “I can’t tell you how many slight variations I went through,” he says.

The sweet concoction finally came together in 2009: a gluten-free, 100-percent human grade treat, made of stone-ground brown rice flour, Savannah Bee honey, ginger, oats, brewer’s yeast, molasses and other healthful ingredients. The biscuits, which are made by Zimmerman and students from the local Savannah College of Art and Design each Wednesday evening, are marked by a custom-made paw-human stamp.

The hand-stamped treats are thick, crispy and packaged in a beautifully designed tin – the gold, chestnut and royal blue Scottish tartan plaid custom-designed by Zimmerman himself. “I wanted everything to be in the old-world tradition,” he says.

The biscuits are sold by the pound for $18.50, and a Biscuit O’Month Club membership runs $140 annually. Smaller sizes are also available. Zimmerman’s two dogs, company mascot Ollie B. (a 2 1/2 year old Cavalier King Charles spaniel) and Makers (a 9-year-old black Labrador and Ollie’s “bodyguard”), love the stuff.

Zimmerman suggests snapping the biscuits in half to stir up the ginger flavor and gently serving to your pooch – the dog, he says, will think he’s in heaven. “After all,” says Zimmerman, “not for nothing is our company motto: To make more dog tails wag more often.”