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Made with care: Norcross woman's bakery caters to those with food allergies

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

Photo by Corinne Nicholson

DULUTH -- During a trip to the Appalachian town of Helen last year, Trenise Grill's two children asked for candy apples they saw in one of the shops there.

After stopping to watch an employee roll an apple in the bright red candy coating, the Norcross resident noticed a problem: nuts on the rolling board near the coating.

"It scared me to death," Grill remembered, "because we were about to buy one for each of the children when I saw it."

While nuts near a candy apple coating may be no cause concern for other parents, both of Grill's children, 7-year-old Cody, and 4-year-old Karli, are allergic to all nuts. Cody is also allergic to eggs, wheat, soy and milk, while his sister can't eat any type of seafood. Consuming any of the foods to which they are allergic results in anaphylaxis, a severe, whole-body allergic reaction.

"(My husband and I) have learned the dangers of nuts around our children at any point," Grill said.

To avoid the chance of her children experiencing anaphylaxis and a subsequent trip to a hospital, Grill avoids any foods that may contain or have come in contact with nuts, which meant no candy apples for her children that day.

After that trip to Helen in February of last year, Grill decided in March to open a bakery that could guarantee its customers their products had not come in contact with nuts. Cake in the Box in Duluth, which celebrated its grand opening Saturday, is, to Grill's knowledge, the first 100 percent nut-free bakery in the metro Atlanta area.

On Monday, Grill was decorating freshly baked, heart-shaped chocolate cookies with white and pink icing in anticipation of Valentine's Day.

While customers allergic to nuts can enjoy cakes, cookies and other baked goods without worrying about the occasional stray nut, Cake in the Box also caters to individual allergies to eggs and milk and offers vegan and kosher products.

Grill said she recently met with a bride-to-be who has Celiac Disease and was worried her condition would prevent her from enjoying cake on her wedding day. Individuals with Celiac Disease cannot tolerate gluten, which is found in wheat, barley and rye and is used in some flavoring, stabilizing and thickening agents. Through Cake in the Box, the bride can have her wedding cake and, because it will be gluten-free, she can eat it, too.

"We really try to cater to the people who are left out," said Grill, who is a self-taught baker and cake decorator. "Most of our customers' kids have never had birthday cakes before. We just wanted to be the ones to provide it to them."

Cake in the Box is at 2730 Peachtree Industrial Blvd., Suite 204, in Duluth. For more information, call 404-932-3550 or visit www.cakeintheboxbakery.com.