Jodi Willoughby had a discerning palate for homemade food, even at age six. Attending a community hall party in her hometown of High River, she dug into a pie, but stopped short after one bite. Turning to her mother, she exclaimed, “Mama, I don’t like the taste of this.” “I got into a bit of trouble,” Willoughby recalls. “But I knew it tasted bad.”
When it comes to a taste for homemade goodness, Willoughby and her sister, Carolyne McIntyre Jackson, have their mother to thank. She whipped up squares, cookies and cupcakes from scratch with quality ingredients – a philosophy that has become their recipe for success as co-owners of Crave Cookies and Cupcakes. Since the Crave flagship location opened in Kensington in 2004, and another opening on 17th Ave. S.W. last year, it has been love at first bite for many Calgarians, who line up in droves to sample the fresh dozen or more cupcake varieties.
The sister act mimics the characteristics of their cupcake treats. Willoughby is the cake, the soft-spoken, level-headed voice of reason, while Jackson’s energetic, bubbly personality is the sugar rush of icing. Despite the contrast, they agree on one thing: offering the best cupcakes. No matter where the sisters go, they check out the competition. In New York, Toronto, San Francisco and Vancouver, they indulge. But the self-professed cupcake queens aren’t in it for the sugar buzz. “You gotta have your pulse on the cupcake world,” says Jackson.
Crave’s sweet dedication is extending to a third location in Calgary’s Willow Park this month, with plans to branch out to Edmonton and Saskatoon. But even though copycat cupcake businesses are cropping up in Calgary, the duo is hardly daunted. “Competition is healthy,” says Willoughby. “It keeps us on our toes and makes us want to be better.”
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