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Baking cupcakes got an 11-year-old Illinois girl in hot water with the government.
Chloe Stirling of Troy, Illinois, was earning approximately $200 per month making sweet treats. She charged $10 per dozen or $2 each for her specialty cupcakes, until the Madison County Health Department stepped in and crushed the little girl’s dreams. Why? She did not possess the proper permits and did not bake inside an approved kitchen.
“They called and said they were shutting us down and the family would have to buy a bakery or build her a kitchen separate from the one we have,” Chloe’s mother, Heather Stirling, said.
Her cupcakes story made national headlines, and most of the readers came out solidly in support of the girl’s desire to earn her own money.
Madison County Health Department representative Amy Yeager said the governmental agency is only applying the law properly and that “rules are rules.” She went on to state that shutting down the 11-year-old girl’s cupcake endeavor was done for the “protection of the public health. The guidelines apply to everyone.”
Yes, in Illinois, schools, clubs, sports teams and churches are not allowed to raise funds for their positive activities via a good old-fashioned bake sale. “It’s not that we discourage her from following her dreams, she just needs to do it, well, anybody needs to do it, within the rules or guidelines that are established,” the health department staffer told KSDK.
Little Chloe donated some of her popular cupcakes for a fundraiser to a schoolmate who was battling cancer.
“Well,” Chloe said, “I think it’s just the rules are rules and they kind of need to be followed.”
How did the health department find out about the 11-year-old girl selling cupcakes? A nice little story about Chloe being a young businesswoman appeared in the local paper – and a reader turned her in to health officials. Chloe had been making cupcakes for two years without anyone getting sick; the only response to her colorful treats was a great big smile and a “yum” from customers.
“Mom said she’d match what I had [in a savings account] at 16 for a car,” the pint-sized baker told local reporters. When talking about how much money the Triad Middle School girl had managed to earn, her mother said, “Uh oh, we may be in trouble.”
In addition to running her Hey, Cupcake! business, Chloe also has a pet-sitting business with a dozen year around clients, and she plays soccer on the side. She also had this to say about the early days of her cupcake making:
When I started, I was really not stable with the bag. So, what I do [now] is make the cupcakes the night before, then come home and decorate them.
Chloe now deftly handles the icing bag and has several dozen different styles of cupcake tips. Her vanilla frosting recipe is a favorite with customers, but she is not giving up her secret recipe and only divulged that the secret to the taste has to do with butter.
Heather is amazed at her daughter’s business running and baking ability. Chloe also recently make an adorable cake for her dad’s birthday.
Her mom told the local newspaper:
She’s never done one of those before [monster size cupcake]. I get nervous when she’s making something for somebody who is paying because I’m afraid it’s not going to work out, but she always makes it come out beautiful.
Once the Hey, Cupcake business took off, the family purchased a second refrigerator and extra shelving for all of Chloe’s supplies. Her grandparents bought her a KitchenAid mixer to help foster her money-making endeavors. The 11-year-old became interested in making cupcakes after her great aunt took her to a class at the local Michaels and she learned how to mix colors and decorate.
Multiple local individuals have offered to allow Chloe to utilize their county-inspected kitchens. Her family is thinking about constructing a second kitchen in their basement for her so that she can keep whipping up her sweet desserts and earning her own money.