By Coshandra Dillard
This is the last weekend of the season you can catch Kerrigan Sanders, 21, along with her parents Karen and Clyde, at the Rose City Farmers Market on Saturdays in front of Juls Restaurant. It’s where the family helps sell sweet treats, under the name Sugar Boogah.
The cakes, cookies and other desserts have a twist. Ingredients are allergen free–usually free of dairy–and some treats can be made without soy, wheat or gluten. Recipes are also made specially for vegans.
For over a year, Sanders has shared her family’s cream cheese pound cake, which was passed down for four generations. She’s also experimented with different flavors, colors and textures, such as her vegan blood orange shortcake cookie, a vegan chocolate and red wine cake and lavender bergamot cupcakes.
DAIRY FREE WITH SOUL
When Sanders was a newborn, her family learned she had a severe allergy to milk and soy. Her formula was changed, and later, they had to be careful to examine all of the ingredients in her food. So they got creative.
Mrs. Sanders experimented with recipes, using substitutions for dairy and other allergens.
By the time Sanders was 15, she had watched her maternal grandmother, June Jeffery, and asked enough questions to learn how to bake her own cakes. She started with a 7-Up cake recipe.
“I did it step by step and I got it,” Sanders said.
Jeffery died in 2012, but her legacy continued.
“She’s the real inspiration behind Sugar Boogah,” Sanders said. “She used to say quirky things to us. Sugar Boogah is like the essence of a grandmother calling their grandchildren their nicknames. It’s a southern twang. Everybody loves it and it’s catchy. Sugar Boogah is family.”
Her grandmother’s loving touch in the kitchen is also what makes the highly-requested cream cheese pound cake and other treats memorable. The desserts are more than the ingredients. It’s true soul food, Sanders said.
“Soul food becomes a part of you,” she said. “You feel that passion. Every time I battered that pan, every time I mixed it, you feel the passion and love that goes into it.”
She added, “We make a joke–but it’s actually serious. We say, ‘when you try the cream cheese pound cake you’re initiated into the family.’ Once you have that pound cake, you’ll never go back. That’s the best pound cake ever.”
GROWING A BRAND
Coping with fibromyalgia–a chronic pain disorder–Sanders had to take time off from school at Texas Tech University. She began the bakery, operating at home under the Texas Cottage Food law, to keep busy.
“I wasn’t in it for the profit,” she said.
In fact, she was motivated to help other children who’d experienced what she had as a child. People with food allergies may experience a range of symptoms from a mild rash to anaphylaxis — a life-threatening, whole-body allergic reaction that can impair breathing.
“People think they’re the only ones with a food allergy,” she said. “They’re really not and I used to think that. It’s fantastic that they can come out to my booth or order something from my bakery like a normal person … I don’t want people to feel left behind because I know what that feels like.”
The drive to produce mouth-watering baked goods is also attributed to the need to be productive and serve the community, a value taught by her parents.
“My children are not the type of children to sit and not do anything,” Mrs. Sanders said. “We’ve taught them they have to participate in something. In high school they had to do something in the fall and in the spring.”
Sanders is contemplating returning to school but in the meantime, the proud North Tyler native is focused on growing her brand.
“I hope Sugar Boogah can be a household name,” she said. “Somewhere people can walk into the grocery store and pick up a dessert like a normal person. That’s my hope.”
The Sanders will continue to help their daughter, but decisions about the bakery are solely left up to Kerrigan. Her mother said their role has always been to support their children’s endeavors.
“I just want to see her be successful with this,” Mrs. Sanders said. “I’m just proud of the fact that she stepped out with no fear and just did it because she remembers being a child and not being able to have (certain foods) and having to be different.”
SUGAR BOOGAH FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Holiday cakes include: cream cheese pound cake (available in gluten-free); apple, pear, and cranberry cake (available in gluten-free, soy-free and vegan); Meyer lemon and cranberry bundt cake (available in gluten-free, soy-free and vegan); chocolate and red wine cake (available in gluten-free, soy-free and vegan).
Order a holiday dessert before midnight Sunday. There are three ways to order:
- Call in your order at 903-787-9515.
- Stop by from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday (Nov. 19) at Rose City Farmers Market, 7212 Old Jacksonville Hwy, and also choose from other treats.
- Message Sugar Boogah on their Facebook page for an order. Leave a contact number so they can call to confirm the order.