Keeping It Local: The Mallow Bar
Dessert cafés are the trendy thing for the new millennium—everyone’s a fan of the goodness of a frozen yogurt café or a cute cupcakery. Let's not even get into how crazy people are about cronuts. People were skipping school and work to stand for hours, just to buy one. The line to meet Katy Perry isn't as long as the line to meet some desserts. By this point, if CNN aired footage of a riot over specialty brownies, none of us would be surprised.
But Rosedale, Maryland is home to the Mallow Bar, the country’s first rice krispie dessert café. That's right. The simple snack you probably made with your mom or your siblings since you could hold a spoon has gotten a gourmet reboot, and the owner, Nikki Lewis, is proud to offer something unique to her Baltimore-area customers. And believe it--they're worth cutting class to get.
Sure, Maryland might be better known to outsiders for its crabs than for its confections, but Lewis knows better than that. There's no need to hit up New York or L.A. for your sugar fix when Baltimore is so close by (tiny states rejoice! All your best spots are within driving distance).
“The food scene in Baltimore has grown tremendously,” Lewis said. “There are great chefs here, and everyone has their own niche.”
Lewis’s niche, specialty rice krispie treats she calls Mallow Crunchies, grew from her love of making the snack with her mother when she was a child, the way many of us did. Unlike the rest of us, Lewis took it further. While we maybe brought a pan of them to the high school bake sale or to our sister's baby shower, Lewis turned rice krispies into a business.
“As I got older, I kept making them, but I wanted to add a twist,” Lewis said. “These are treats that cause nostalgia for adults, it’s a grown-up version of the dessert.”
The twists include scratch-made flavored marshmallow (which have been dubbed Mallow Softies, aka the most adorable name for a marshmallow yet), and unusual recipes such as trail mix or toffee rice krispie treats. Seasonal treats, such as Valentine’s day gift boxes, are also available. That means if your significant other is sick of the ho-hum box of candy, you have options! Rice krispie options! Gooey, scrumptious marshmallow options! Options that also keep overnight in the fridge, and don't get yucky and stale!
With a strong fan base of more than 700 Facebook fans and counting, as well as an appearance on the Lifetime competition show “Supermarket Superstar”, new softies and treats are sure to keep coming as the Mallow Bar’s popularity grows.
But Lewis isn’t letting the fame go to her head. She praises the local community for being so encouraging towards her business.
“Baltimore is a supportive and thriving community, everyone is about local support,” she said. Maryland might be mini-America, home to a wide variety of cultures and people, but rice krispie treats are the great equalizer, and everybody wants a taste.
Sadly, there is only one Mallow Bar storefront at the moment. But if you're in Maryland (and really, why would you want to be in a state without a rice krispie cafe?) the Mallow Crunchies are available at other Maryland locations, including Zeke’s Coffee in Baltimore and the Towson Farmer’s Market. They're even stocked at markets in Frederick and Catonsville, so that no one needs to experience the horror of Mallow Crunchie withdrawal.
The shop also caters events like weddings and parties. Stop and think about that for a second. You can share the most important events in your life with a delicious specialty rice krispie treat. This is basically a Pinterest idea waiting to happen, guys. Put some pics of your Mallow Crunchie wedding on your board, and suddenly a cupcake wedding will look more dated than a 70's prom photo.
If Lewis had to describe what attracts people to her business in one sentence, she said she’d have to go with the shop’s motto— “Chewy, gooey, crunchy, munchy.” Indeed, the sticky little snacks have inspired an entire page of testimonials on the Mallow Bar’s website. Many are from people who had come to the café to try their very first rice krispie treat, and who have promised it won’t be their last.
If you've never had a rice krispie treat, this is the sign you've been waiting for. Yes, you. You're out of excuses. Go now. The Mallow Bar is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, and they have coffee and wi-fi as well as sweet things. Take your homework. Take your date. And then, kiss your favorite New York or D.C. cupcakery goodbye.
This post was written by Route One Apparel blogger Eva Niessner.