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Entrepreneur Sells Sweet Snack to Whole Foods

Nikki Lewis

Age: 37
Name of Company: Mallow Crunchies; Mallow Bar café
Number of employees: 1
Any plans to hire: We’d like to hire someone in the next couple of months for production and someone for the farmer’s markets.
Childhood kitchen memory: Making Rice Krispies Treats was good bonding time with my mom.
Favorite celebrity chef: I love Paula Deen. I love her personality. We’ve eaten at her restaurant in Savannah, Georgia.
Weirdest kitchen tool you’ve ever used: A scaffold. It cuts the treats for me. People see it and ask, “Is that really for the kitchen?”
What would be your last supper: I love sweets, so it would be dessert first. I would have Mallow Crunchies. It would have to be the ones covered in dark chocolate.

Nikki Lewis is banking on your love of those gooey childhood goodies.
“I’ve always made rice crispy treats, and I’ve just never stopped making them,” says Lewis, 37. “It’s just like my go-to snack to make when I make dessert. I’ve just always had some fascination with them.”

She gives the childhood favorite dessert an upgrade with salted cashews, sweet toffee and Belgian dark chocolate. The Rice Krispies Treats are made from scratch, using a kosher beef-based gelatin instead of pork.
Last month, Lewis spent $50,000 to open the Mallow Bar cafe in Rosedale, selling her signature snacks, Zeke’s Coffee of Baltimore and Teaz LLC tea. Expecting to turn a profit in six months, her dream is to eventually open several more cafes around the country. 
Stores seem to be hungrier than ever for the dessert. Whole Foods recently agreed to sell the sweet treats in all of its mid-Atlantic stores. Baltimore Coffee & Tea, Milk and Honey, the Nut Farm and Grilled Cheese & Co. also carry Mallow Munchies.
The co-owner of Catonsville’s Grilled Cheese & Co., James Lancelogta says the treats have been a hit as his store for about eight months.
“They were appealing to us because they’re locally made and homemade,” he says. “It also fits our niche as a comfort food." Lancelogta says the originals and toffee-flavored munchies are the most popular.
Lewis has also been making the event circuit to promote her product. The gooey goodies were featured at the Maryland Wine Festival, the Chocolate Affair and fundraising events for Centerstage and Women’s Law Center of Maryland Inc. They were also a pre-ceremony snack for celebrities at the Golden Globes.
But selling Rice Krispies Treats wasn’t the original career path for the White Marsh resident. With a Towson University degree in journalism, she worked in real estate with husband Tre for eight years while writing freelance articles.
When the economy tanked, she wanted out of real estate and reverted back to her life-long love of sticky marshmallow and rice. Between her personal finances, assistance from Tre who works full-time and $20,000 in donations through Kickstarter, Lewis was ready for business.
Lewis first tested her product out three years ago at area farmers’ markets where she met some of her clients, like Zeke’s Coffee.
Adults between the ages of 25 and 40 are the target demographic, because they remember making Rice Krispies Treats when they were growing up, Lewis says.
Hoping to appeal to families as well, Lewis features her six-year-old son Nigel and 18-month-old Nadia on her website and promotions.
But juggling a family and running a business is extra hard for women, Lewis says. She finds that it’s more acceptable for men to tell their spouses that they’ll be at work all day and night while women have to hold down two jobs as mom and entrepreneur.
She gives all serious potential chefs a reality check — the food business isn’t really that glamorous as the TV shows make it out to be.
“Make sure you really love the food industry,” Lewis says. “It’s laborious, it’s like blue-collar, getting cut up, hands dirty, long hours type of work”, says Lewis, waving her bandaged thumb on the chopping and mixing hand.
“It’s easy to say it’s too grueling, but stick with it.”
Jolene Carr is a Syracuse, New Yorker who moved to Baltimore for school, work, and play. Her previous writing includes restaurant and club reviews for Syracuse’s Table Hopping and nonfiction in the Urbanite.


Nikki Lewis, owner of The Mallow Bar.

Mallow Crunchies.

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