Allyson Moore didn’t think she would ever open a bakery.
“It just kinda happened,” she says.
After being diagnosed with many food allergies, Allyson Moore started baking gluten, egg and dairy free treats. Not long after, her cupcakes and breads gained popularity and Chubby Bunny Bakery was born.
“I liked to bake as a kid, but I was doing it with box mixes,” says Moore. “I never did any of it from scratch, so that was totally new. I’ve just always been kinda good at it.”
It started with the Oxford Farmers Market. Next, Moon Co-op wanted the products. Then came Jungle Jim’s and Kofenya. Finally, through word of mouth, Miami University wanted Chubby Bunny Bakery products in McCracken Market.
“Chubby Bunny was just a hobby that got out of control. I didn’t really plan for it to turn into this, but it’s great that it did. There’s a lot of demand for it,” says Moore.
Currently, Moore cooks all the goods out of her home in Hamilton, Ohio using four separate ovens, though she hopes to soon move to a commercial kitchen in Over-the-Rhine.
“I’m kind of at the point where I’m up against the wall where it has to grow,” says Moore. “We’re working on moving the business to Over-the-Rhine to a commercial kitchen space. This way I’ll be able to produce way more product in less time and my whole life won’t be completely consumed with Chubby Bunny.”
The whole process is somewhat of a family affair. While Allyson bakes, her mom puts the stickers on the boxes and her husband makes the deliveries.
And her two-year-old son? Well he just likes to eat the cupcakes.
“Nothing is safe,” Allyson says, laughing. “There’s been times when he’ll just come in with a cupcake and he just acts like nothing happened.”
Even her 9 month-year-old likes to be apart of the process by crawling around, eating the fallen chocolate chips off the floor.
“It’s nice that I don’t have to get a babysitter for them, they’re not in daycare. They kinda are just along for the ride all the time,” says Moore.
But the long baking hours — while raising two little kids — doesn’t allow Allyson much time for herself.
“I have days when I just have so much product to bake. I’ll have days where I have to produce $700 invoices and I just want to hide in the laundry room.”
And then there are days where she’s so close to ending it all.
“There are a lot of days I want to quit. There are a lot of days I want to say, ‘Oh, no more Chubby Bunny’ but I know so many people would be upset,” says Moore.
So she keeps on baking.
There aren’t very many bakeries like hers in southwest Ohio. In Cincinnati, there is Happy Chick’s Bakery, which is entirely vegan, but not gluten-free, and Cake Rack Bakery that offers gluten and dairy free options, but is not entirely vegan.
Chubby Bunny Bakery offers the best of both worlds in all their products: Vegan and gluten-free.
“There are just not a lot of options. I mean even if [other products] are gluten free, there’s still a lot of other crap in it too,” says Moore. “They’re not organic, they have eggs, they have milk, so I do think there’s room for a product like mine on the market.”
Jungle Jim’s International Market, located in Fairfield, Ohio, carries more than 150,000 products. Among all of these products, Chubby Bunny is the only one of its kind.
“We have a local gluten free bakery and other vegan products,” says Kyle Koppe, Jungle Jim’s Natural Foods employee, “but nothing vegan, gluten free and baked locally like Chubby Bunny.”
And a product like hers is especially popular when its flavor is practically indistinguishable from non-vegan and gluten containing products.
Miami University sophomore, Natalia Del Rosario, has had a gluten intolerance for the past two years. She misses being able to eat baked goods the most. But because of Chubby Bunny products, Del Rosario is able to enjoy the cupcakes she loves without the wheat.
“I love Chubby Bunny because it’s nice to have gluten free products available,” says Del Rosario. “It can be hard to find quick and easy options that I can enjoy when I want dessert or have a sweet tooth.”
While Del Rosario’s favorite Chubby Bunny product is the pumpkin muffin, Moore laughs when talking about this popular product.
“I get sick of it,” says Moore. “Everyone loves that pumpkin muffin but I’m like ‘Oh my god if I have to look at a pumpkin muffin one more time…But I mean, there’s times I’ll eat it, but it’s rare. It’s just always there.”
Although Moore doesn’t eat Chubby Bunny frequently, her customers sure do.
Koppe consistently sees customers come for the cute labels, and then return for more.
“I’m not vegan, but it is tasty and I enjoy it,” says Koppe. “They always ask me for my preferences once they start trying it.”
Chubby Bunny’s exponential growth from its start in 2012 to present is an indication that there is indeed high demand for a product like Moore’s. According to a Mintel study, gluten-free product sales increased 68 percent from 2012 to 2014.
“I haven’t found, at least not in this area, bakeries like me,” says Moore. “I mean, there are in L.A. and New York, but there’s nothing like that here, and if you want it shipped, that’s gonna be really expensive.”
Moore doesn’t ever plan on opening a full-scale bakery, but rather one that focuses on wholesale by expanding into stores like Whole Foods and Dorothy Lane Market. She’d eventually like to produce some bake-at-home products like raw cookie dough.
“I don’t strive to have a bakery where I sit there all day and wait for someone to buy a cupcake,” says Moore. “I want to get it out to stores and then that way I can be with my kids.”