According to Jenna Keys, the origin story of her Oakland-based artisan candy company is very much a “typical foodie story.” For Keys, making candy was a longtime hobby, not a professional aspiration. But when she made batches of alcohol-spiked marshmallows for family a couple of Christmases ago, her treats were such a hit that she began getting requests from friends and bringing her creations to parties.
It would be an oversimplification to say that the rest is history but, just seven months into business, Sugar Knife is the sweet-talk of the town. Keys and her fiancé/business partner, Josh Gillespie, are finding that the demand for their booze-spiked marshmallows and brittle is now higher than two people can hope to meet, even working overtime.
“It’s been crazy. It’s been absolutely whirlwind,” Keys said. “You can’t read enough books or enough experiences on blogs to prepare you for creating a small foodie business.”
Sugar Knife’s basic mission is to marry sugar and booze. That mission is manifested in artisanal, small-batch marshmallows and brittle made by hand with all-natural ingredients, and with an array of mouth-watering ingredient combinations fit for any gourmand. Marshmallow flavors, for example, include “Black Irish,” made of Guinness stout, chocolate, and chocolate-covered pretzels and the cheekily-named “You Fancy, Huh?”, made of strawberries and champagne, all priced at $7 for a half-dozen or $12 for a dozen.