Next time you’re in Long Island City and you catch a whiff of toasted marshmallow in the air, rest easy—no, you’re not having a Girl Scout flashback (though perhaps that wouldn’t be the worst thing). You’re smelling S’more Bakery‘s grownup twist on the campfire classic. And trust me, it’d be a good idea to follow your nose to the Flea/Smorg.
Your website says you set out to make the s’more “a grownup version of its former store-bought self.” Which element of your s’mores helps them trade in the Brownie sash for a drivers license?
Sarah: I think it’s supremely important to remember that s’mores help lots of people remember what it’s like to be a kid and toast (more like accidentally burn/scorch/totally incinerate) a cylindrical marshmallow over a ﬁre pit. For that reason alone, I think even handmade s’mores should keep a lot of their simplicity. We make our own chocolate ganache, marshmallows, and graham crackers from scratch, not because our concoction is better than its original self, but because it piques peoples’ interest and is super delicious. There’s room for both types of s’more in this world, we swear!
Besides selling at Flea and Smorg, you do private events too. Ever have a bunch of lawyers elbowing their way to the front of the s’more line?
Sarah: Actually, yes! And I think it’s one of the most amusing parts of this job. We walk into these massive and sleek corporate buildings somewhere in midtown and (at least I) get nervous and start to think, “How we are going to be received? Are these people going to…scoff at our chalkboard menu and mini marshmallows and wonder why we have our very own s’more toaster?” The second we walk into one of these conference rooms, people who seem like they’ve had to be serious at work all day get immediately very captivated by what we’re doing.
Mike Siebold: No ﬂying elbows, but deﬁnitely some playful nudging and the usual “Oh, I obviously must grab all of these with my bare hands as soon as possible” action.
Which part of the s’more-making process is or was the most challenging?
Sarah: I’d say the most challenging part is satisfying a customer’s graham cracker craving/preference. You see, there’s a group of s’more aﬁcionados that believes in the crunchiness and crackeriness of their graham cracker. Others believe that this crackery crunch makes the marshmallow slide out without warning the second they chomp down. We’ve tried to appease the ﬁrst group by leaving the grahams in the oven a minute or two longer to make sure they have crunch, but we’ve also tried to keep the second group happy by taking out the grahams a little early and turning them into soft graham cookies. The daunting task of keeping these two groups happy can be exhausting! I had no idea that there was such a “crunch/no crunch” divide.
Mike: Making marshmallows is an extremely simple process, yet if you don’t mix the gelatin just the right amount, you get spackle. When people bite into your s’mores and they can’t separate their teeth, you worry. (Non-spackle marshmallows, left.)
Before you were a pastry chef, you were working on a master’s degree in English. Can you think of a literary character whose life may have been turned around with the taste of a s’more?
Sarah: My ﬁrst thought (and this is so lame, I know) was that Oliver Twist’s life would be changed forever. Instead of getting scoffed at for asking, “Please sir, I want some more” food, he’d actually get a s’more and it would be earth-shattering.
Mike: Holden Caulfield would’ve taken a moment to mull things over, Guy Montag (Farenheit 451) would have still set things on fire, and Okonkwo would realize that things Are not Going To Fall Apart.
What’s your favorite part of working at the Flea?
Sarah: I love seeing the same vendors each week and establishing relationships with other people who know what it’s like to work hard to sell what you love. And there are so many talented people in this wonderful borough! I’m constantly blown away by what people at the Flea have created.
Mike: The ambiance. It’s a beautiful venue with a wonderful community selling beautiful items.