With a severe food allergy, a party table full of cakes and pies can turn out to be anything but the delicious fun it's meant to be. And forget about dining out; one mistake or contaminated countertop could lead to a trip to the emergency room.
Food allergies are no joke, and Diane Smith, whose granddaughter, Summer Ruby Perry, was found to have a deadly peanut allergy, knows it better than most.
"Through the past five years, we have learned to change and accommodate to the peanut and nut-free allergy," said Smith, who, understanding that food allergies affect the individual with the allergy as well as their family or friends, has teamed up with her daughter, Veronica Martin, to establish .
"It's really hard to find sweets that are nut-free," says Vanessa Perry, Summer Ruby's mother. "A lot of the stuff may be nut-free, but it's manufactured in a plant that processes nuts. [Summer Ruby] can't have any of that."
There are a lot of changes in life that come along with an allergy like Summer Ruby's. The family avoids eating out, her seat must be disinfected when she gets onto the school bus, and her brother, M.J., has had to sacrifice eating his favorite sweets at times.
They also had to say "goodbye'" to their favorite cakes and baked goods from Hartford's Italian bakeries, but it was this change that propelled them to opening .
Without being able to enjoy their favorite Italian treats because of peanut and nut products, the family began to bake cakes for every party, even if it wasn't their own. That way, they could ensure that Summer Ruby would be able to enjoy it.
"All of us grew up baking and having big parties," says Smith. "We decided we would have a peanut-free and nut-free facility for Summer Ruby because it also prevents the children without allergies from having to sacrifice also."
It's all about equality, Smith says, lamenting the moments at a birthday party when a child cannot join his or her friends in eating the cake.
In combatting allergies, Smith and Martin's facility is completely peanut and nut free. They've even made the effort to offer egg and dairy-free products for those with egg and dairy allergies.
In addition, the bakery keeps a book of labels - one for each product used in their creations - for parents, family members, and those with allergies to use as a reference and source of comfort when ordering. The book can tell a customer exactly which brand of sugar, flower and other ingredients were used during the baking process.
Of course, customers are encouraged to place custom orders to ensure they receive products that are in line with their health needs and cravings.
The shop specializes in cupcakes (including an assortment of flavors that range from pink lemonade to a breakfast cupcake that Smith describes as "better than a muffin, but not as sweet as a cupcake"), but also makes brownies, pies, chocolate covered pretzels, scones and more.
Delivery is available. Pre-ordering is preferred.