It was 1992 and I was 13 years old when I decided to become a vegan after falling madly in love with Skipper… my childhood bunny.
It was a decision I made overnight – I just didn’t want to eat animals anymore. And I’ve never looked back.
Giving up animal-based foods was mostly easy, but there was one thing I was having a hard time with: marshmallows, and the gelatin in them. Parting ways with my favorite childhood snacks—rice crispie treats and Korean smore pies—was devastating. They were always waiting for me at home. I was emotionally dependent on them. They made me happy. I kept telling myself it was going to be okay. I was confident that someone, someday, would create a vegan marshmallow.
Little did I know, 15 years later, I would become that someone.
I found a “vegetarian” gel on the market that was touted as the perfect substitute for gelatin. When I used it to make marshmallows from a recipe I found online, I was overjoyed to discover they came out tasting exactly like marshmallows I had as a kid! Word got out I was making gelatin-free marshmallows, orders were being placed, and eventually I quit my day job. I told my folks about my “sweet” business, and instead of buying the house they were saving up for, they gave their life savings to help me start Sweet & Sara. Shortly after, we found out some not-so-sweet news. Turns out these marshmallows that tasted so much like the real thing, were indeed the real thing; the vegetarian gel was actually gelatin. We were duped by the manufacturer.
What now? I had no culinary background and I couldn’t even cook rice properly. But I did have a lot of determination. I began my quest to create “the Holy Grail of animal-free sweet treats.” Food scientists warned me that my attempts would be futile and that reproducing the properties of gelatin in marshmallows would be impossible. Rule number one: Never let anyone tell you, “you can’t,” just because they can’t.
Over 120 marshmallow trials in ten months, carefully logging my progress …
… and sleeping on a cot at work …
I was beyond frustrated. I couldn’t figure it out.
As I was about to throw in the towel, I thought about my mom and dad, who have been through so much hardship. I decided to experiment one more time. And this happened:
The world’s first vegan marshmallow was born: plush, creamy, scrumptious, and… completely gelatin-free. Boom.
Sweet & Sara products are vegan, kosher, all natural, handmade and GMO free and can be found in health food stores, convenience stores, cafes, movie theaters and online shops, all over the US, as well as in Canada, Germany, and England, and they have also been featured by the Food Network, CNBC, and Martha Stewart Weddings magazine.
Who knew we’d make it to ten years?
2004. Sunnyside. 600 sq ft. Fulfilled our first order with Whole Foods Northeast here. Just me and my cot:
Today. Long Island City. 6,000+ sq ft. Fulfilled orders going out to Whole Foods nationwide, Germany, UK. Me, my family, my staff, and my cot:
Together with my incredible family, who gave up their life savings (and sanity) to share my dream with the world, these pillows of perfection are made with love and enjoyed by both vegans and non-vegans alike.
Here’s to many more years of providing the most incredible marshmallow treats and outstanding customer service, from passionate people who love what they do. We are forever grateful for our loyal and hard working employees, most who have been with us since the beginning and to our customers for all the support. We couldn’t do this without you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Meet the Sohns
Sara: Marshmallow Magician
- Three things she can’t live without: power naps, soy lattes first thing in the morning, her parent’s broken English.
- Often heard saying: “Can I have fries with that?”
- Fave S&S treat: Rocky Road Bark. It should be in every store.
- Random things: Laugh is eerily similar to Eddie Murphy’s. Almost got kicked out of college at NYU for civil disobedience. Has no self control around chips.
Uhmma (Mom): The Real Boss
- Three things she can’t live without: Korean TV dramas, house slippers, persimmons.
- Often heard saying: “No monies, no honeys.”
- Fave S&S treat: Toasted Coconut Marshmallow. Never liked coconut until these.
- Random things: Will pass you a napkin with chopsticks. Makes the most slamming vegetarian Korean food. Can hula hoop like it’s nobody’s business.
Ahbba (Dad): The “No Hanky Panky” Team Leader
- Three things he can’t live without: oldies CD on repeat, Uhmma, La-Z-Boy.
- Often heard saying: “Where Uhmma?”
- Fave S&S treat: Rice Crispy Treat. Has been caught stashing them in his desk, “Can I borrows?”
- Random things: Thinks “hanky panky” means playing hooky. Still believes his adult daughters have curfews. Claims he has bodyguards.
Susan: The Gopher
- Three things she can’t live without: strong black tea, Parks & Rec marathons, spicy food.
- Often heard saying: “Mishegas.”
- Fave S&S treat: Cinnamon Pecan Marshmallows. Perfect amount of cinnamon in the mallow and the candied toasted pecan on top is perfect.
- Random thing: The brains who came up with the business name.