Bakery caters to canine tastes
The Happy Husy Bakery is named after co-owner Todd Ruppenthal's dogs Ginger and Astaire. | By Natalie Hayes~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 31, 2012 1:50PM
EVANSTON — Catering to nutrition-focused pet owners who want to treat their beloved pups to a healthy snack, Happy Husky Bakery in Evanston has been serving up natural homemade treats for cats and dogs for the past four years.
Made with all-natural and many organic-sourced human-grade ingredients like garbanzo beans, carrots, whole chicken, parmesan cheese and honey, Happy Husky Bakery offers fresh-from-the-oven treats, birthday cakes and ice cream sundaes without the addition of artificial ingredients.
Co-owners Todd Ruppenthal and Stephen Farmer opened the pet treat bakery together on a whim when they walked by the empty store front one night in 2008 at 2601 Prairie Ave. The two longtime friends had met for lunch one day to mull over their career paths and share advice.
The two worked together at a spa in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood owned by Farmer several years ago. Ruppenthal was the spa director, but both had since changed career paths. Farmer was retired but had grown bored and was looking for a new endeavor to keep him busy, while Ruppenthal was considering going back to school to get a nutrition degree.
When the two friends of 22 years took a walk around downtown Evanston after lunch and noticed a shop space for rent, Farmer joked that “it would make a great spot for a pet bakery,” Ruppenthal said.
When they reached the car after their walk, Ruppenthal came up with a name for the imaginary bakery – the Happy Husky Bakery.
“That night I had secured the domain name for our web site, and in a few weeks we were moving into the store we first saw that was for rent,” Ruppenthal said. “It was one of those things where once the ball started rolling it all happened very fast.”
Named after Ruppenthal’s two Huskies, Ginger and Astaire, Happy Husky Bakery sells treats that are baked on-site with recipes crafted by Ruppenthal himself.
To come up with his recipes, Ruppenthal paged through pet treat cookbooks and pulled out the most tasty-looking concoctions, which he taste-tested on Ginger, who tends to stick up her nose at most treats, Ruppenthal said.
Then he went through each recipe and pulled out the bad-for-you ingredients like white bleached flour, sugar, salt, artificial bacon bits and butter – and added wholesome things like sweet potatoes, oat flour, yogurt and flax seeds.
“When looking at these recipes I thought, ‘I wouldn’t want to eat things with that much sodium and sugar, and I’m eight times bigger than a dog,’” Ruppenthal said. “I reworked everything to be in line with our mission of using no bleached flours, salt, sugars, and preservatives.”
Happy Husky Bakery is a licensed pet food manufacturer through the Illinois Department of Agriculture. In order to achieve that certification, each recipe was assessed for moisture, protein and fat for guaranteed analysis.
Most snacks sold at Happy Husky are for canines, but one specialty cat treat made with salmon, flax seeds and yogurt is offered.
Some of the most popular products are the “Crazy Twist,” a chicken broth-based treat made with flax seeds, and the “Rufus Bone,” which is made with chicken and bacon served in the shape of a bone.
Customers also love the doggie birthday cakes, Ruppenthal said, which look like real human cakes but with a brownie-like consistency, are made with mashed potatoes, cream cheese and yogurt.
For pet owners looking to treat their dogs with a special holiday treat, Happy Husky Bakery makes custom-crafted made-to-order gingerbread houses adorned with a pet’s name. The six-inch tall houses are $19.99 and orders will be taken through Dec. 22.
To place an order, call Happy Husky Bakery at 847-425-1100 or go to www.happyhuskybakery.com.