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June/July 2003
Pull On Your Snack Pants!
Run Over to D.C.’s All-Vegan Bakery (and Just Try to Pull Yourself Away!)
By Miyun Park


Moving to the suburbs of Washington, D.C. was a highly traumatic experience for me. Gone were the days of hopping around the corner to my favorite hang-outs, restaurants, bodegas, and coffeehouses. In came the days of playgrounds, lawnmowers, folding chairs, and black socks with bermuda shorts. The only redeeming quality of my emigration from the city was that I was moving far, far away from the irresistible pull of Sticky Fingers Bakery.

For the past few years, Doron Petersan has been taunting those of us fortunate enough to know her with the idea that she’d one day open an all-vegan bakery. Clad in a chocolate-covered apron, Doron explains the birth of the oh-so-sweet idea: “After endless parties with no vegan desserts, the idea hit. I started making cakes for birthdays and potlucks, and every other person was saying, ‘You should sell these!’”

Without much hesitation, Doron planted herself in her kitchen and began tempting us with unbelievably delicious creations, taking full advantage of the obsession with food that all vegans seem to have. With even less hesitation, a handful of us willingly became her test subjects and devoured all sorts of animal-friendly desserts that actually had texture, taste, and flavor. So, while I invested in more and more pairs of snack pants, Doron further developed the idea that would become Sticky Fingers Bakery. She “baked, schemed, and suckered Dave Jameson and Kirsten Rosenberg into being a part of it all. Dave started baking as soon as he got here from England in February 2002, and Kirsten signed on two months later.”

After a few months of whipping the budding business into a reality, on October 1, 2002, the sweet, sweet smell of freshly baked treats wafted out the door, luring unsuspecting passersby in trendy Dupont Circle into Sticky Fingers Bakery for the first time. Hungry customers were greeted with display cases filled with such decadence as Smackers (peanut buttery chocolate bars) for $1.50, huge slices of Bunny Huggers Carrot Cake for $3.50, and, of course, the house specialty: warm, gooey Sticky Cinnamon Buns for $2.

What sets Sticky Fingers apart from other socially responsible businesses isn’t only that it offers all-vegan sweets, expands the fast-growing animal-free foods market, and satiates scores of dessert-deprived advocates. Sticky Fingers is mainstreaming the message of compassion to animals by addicting vegans-to-be to its irresistible cakes, muffins, cookies—all while introducing those sweet-tooths to the whys and hows of becoming vegan. That is, while Sticky Fingers doesn’t advertise itself to the general public as a cruelty-free business (lest potential customers turn away from fear of the unknown), the bakery staff of seven never misses an opportunity to promote veganism. Compassion Over Killing’s Vegetarian Eating brochures, Easy Vegan Recipes booklets, and Vegetarian Guide to Washington, D.C. and Surrounding Areas are prominently displayed in the storefront, and Sticky Fingers employees constantly encourage walk-in and special-order customers to explore animal-friendly living. And while they’re drunk on the best vegan desserts around, how could they refuse?

Flour-coated bakery co-owner Kirsten shares, “We’ve been very heartened by the reception Sticky Fingers has received, from vegans as well as non-vegans. In fact, we’ve had several instances where customers are surprised to realize we’re a vegan bakery—even after multiple visits!”

And Sticky Fingers isn’t only introducing chocoholics and pastry lovers to the idea of veganism. Adds Kirsten, “Running a vegan bakery has also provided some unexpected opportunities for raising awareness about animal issues. For example, our industrial suppliers have had to learn what ‘vegan’ and ‘cruelty-free’ mean, and that there is a growing demand for such products.”

In the nation’s capital, Sticky Fingers Bakery is an overwhelming hit, attracting customers from the city’s outskirts, willing to battle D.C. traffic and non-existent parking just for a bite of a Cowvin Cookie (oatmeal cookie sandwich with cream filling for $2.00), a slice of Chocolate Love Cake (the best vegan cake around for $3.50), or the newest baked creation to emerge from the kitchen. The bakery’s wholesale business to D.C. coffee houses, book nooks, restaurants, and co-ops rivals its retail sales, and deliriously happy customers know where to go for catering, special-order desserts, and even wedding cakes.

Some say their products are sinful, while self-admitting Sticky Fingers addict Gaverick Matheny sighs, “Sinking your teeth into a moist chocolate cake sandwich with a fluffy cream filling is heaven. Finding out the ‘Little Devil’ is cholesterol-free and animal-friendly is divine.”

What’s down the road for the ever-expanding bakery? Spreading joy to those outside the Beltway by cooking up plots for mail-order business! Keep your eyes open for online sales in late summer/early fall.

So while I’m no longer a mere handful of blocks away from the bakery, I’m still a more than willing taste-tester (even though I go through the motions of putting up a fight). Why, you ask, would the Dessert Divas and the Mad Baker constantly test the will power of animal advocates by waving scrumptious treats under our noses? Because they’re horrible, of course. And because they know we are the pickiest critics around when it comes to desserts. If we give the treats our chocolate-streaked thumbs up, you know it’s good and ready to serve as vegan ambassadors!

Visit Sticky Fingers Bakery at 1904 18th Street, NW (at T Street), Washington, DC 20009; online:; or call (202) 299-9700.

Miyun Park is president of Compassion Over Killing (, a nonprofit animal advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., and Sticky Fingers junky with no plans to kick the habit.

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