Puddin’ on the Ritz

Local pudding purveyors jazz up the classic comfort food.

Lauren Cohen - December 2018

Puddin’ on the Ritz

Local pudding purveyors jazz up the classic comfort food.

Lauren Cohen - December 2018


Denisha “Dawn” Hightower of Love Puddin. -Christopher Myers

These days, everything is artisanal—bread, cheese, ice cream, even pudding. For Denisha “Dawn” Hightower, the brains behind mobile pudding business Love Puddin’, the recipe for the scratch-made treat is rooted in her childhood. “My aunt was like our dessert queen,” Hightower says of her Aunt Nina, whom she assisted in the kitchen as a young girl. “Hers wasn’t your typical pudding in a cup. It was a really rich, gourmet type of pudding.”

Hightower decided to use her aunt’s cookie-crumbled “dirt” recipe as the inspiration to start her venture. She began making the cups for coworkers and friends in 2013, and two years later, after a decade working for Child Protective Services, Hightower decided to make peddling pudding her full-time gig. “I always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” she says. “After my brother passed away in 2014, I used that time off to really decide what I wanted to do for myself. I ended up leaving my job, and I’ve been doing this ever since.”

When preparing for pop-ups and deliveries in her brightly decaled Ford Transit Connect van—lovingly referred to as “Big Pink”—it takes Hightower nearly four hours to mix more than six gallons of pudding, which she sells in 8-oz. containers for $5 each. Signature flavors include a classic banana with Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies, strawberry-crunch, snickerdoodle, red velvet, cinnamon topped with apple pie pieces, and, of course, “Aunt Nina’s Low-Down Dirt,” made with crushed Oreo cookies.

With more than 7,000 followers on Instagram, Love Puddin’ has put the craft confection on the map for local dessert fiends, and Hightower has paved the way for other purveyors to embrace the trend. She has big dreams for the business in the future, including a standalone location and a larger truck that offers DIY toppings.

Above all, Hightower says she’s most grateful to her customers, who have come out in droves to get their fix. “We call them our ‘pudding pops,’” she says. “It’s beautiful to have that type of support from people who love what you do.”

Instagram: @love_puddin
Where to buy: Frequent pop-ups in Mondawmin, East Baltimore, Towson, Owings Mills, and White Marsh.
Deliveries: 12:30-7:30 p.m. Tues.-Sat.
Phone: 443-622-9915


Jamal Wiggins of Crazy Puddings. -Christopher Myers

Jamal Wiggins makes banana pudding the way his grandmother used to, but with a sugary spin. His confectionary-on-wheels, Crazy Puddings, tops traditional banana custard with everything from chocolate chip cookies to Reese’s cups.

“There’s definitely a lot of love and time put into it,” he says. “It has to sit for a couple hours to get to where you’re either tasting a banana or a cookie in every scoop.”

Since hitting the streets last year, Wiggins has enjoyed interacting with the community and seeing smiles after first-timers take their first bite.

“I think that’s Baltimore,” he says. “If you’ve got something good, people are going to tell you.”

Instagram: @crazy_puddings
Favorite flavors: Chocolate chip, Reese’s, Oreo, and Buttercrunch made with old-school Linden’s cookies.
Price per cup: $5
Where to buy: Frequent pop-ups at Mondawmin Mall and in East Baltimore at North Avenue and Harford Road.
Phone: 443-791-4272





You May Also Like


In Good Taste

Elan Kotz Talks About Latest Dining Venture Orto

We talk to the restauranteur about his new Italian-inspired spot in Station North.

On The Town

St. Patrick’s Day Parties and Bar Specials That Are Pure Gold

Make your own luck by heading to these festive happenings.

On The Town

Where to Celebrate the Return of Game of Thrones

The best watch parties, food specials, and events honoring the HBO show.


In Good Taste

Open & Shut: Plant Food + Wine; Motzi Bread; Pillion Tea

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

Food & Drink

Local Flavor Live Podcast: A Bread Service Rises in Charles Village

Plus, Pillion Tea, 414 Light Street cookbooks, construction, and we share our best bites this week.

Food & Drink

Local Flavor Live Podcast: Snowballs in Shipping Containers

Plus, food stories from Italy, wellness in the service industry, and our best bites this week.

Connect With Us

Most Read


Boxing Champ Gervonta Davis Eyes Hometown Fight in July: Upton Boxing Center stablemate Lorenzo Simpson to fight on undercard.

Where to Celebrate the Return of Game of Thrones: The best watch parties, food specials, and events honoring the HBO show.

Balti Virtual Partners with Washington Capitals for New Augmented Reality Game: Just in time for the playoffs, the Baltimore company designed augmented reality game Tilt The Ice.

Catonsville’s Jeremiah Lloyd Harmon Talks American Idol Fame: Towson University student has impressed the show’s judges with his wide vocal range.

Open & Shut: Sophomore Coffee; The Urban Oyster; Raw Bar; Smoke: The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.