When Marcy Maldonado and her daughter Brittany lost their jobs in retail at the same time, they went back to work with each other.
The mother-daughter duo opened Milk + Sugar, a traveling dessert food truck, in August 2013. The truck stops in front of the Tyler School of Art every Tuesday to sell to the Temple community. The owners said they specialize in cupcakes of a variety of flavors, as well as cookies and pound cakes.
Marcy Maldonado said the transition into owning Milk + Sugar has been natural for her since she enjoys working with her daughter. Brittany Maldonado said she believes their mutual love of baking made it an easy change.
“My mom and I both come from a retail background, but we started selling cupcakes on the side after trying to recreate some of our favorite treats from New York cupcake bakeries,” Brittany Maldonado said. “We really enjoyed baking, so we decided to just go for it as two untrained bakers.”
Milk + Sugar also stops at Drexel, 10th and South streets, and Third and Spring Garden streets. Like other traveling truck owners, the Maldonados said they don’t believe that sticking to a permanent location would positively benefit their business.
“We really love the idea of being able to reach Philadelphians all over, and that each location has a different kind of customer and whole new group of people,” Brittany Maldonado said. “We want to appeal to the masses and satisfy people all over the city.”
Being mother and daughter as well as business partners is sometimes a challenge for the Maldonados, but the two agreed that they see eye-to-eye on most issues that come up with the truck. Marcy Maldonado said she believes their relationship gives them a competitive advantage.
“Working together has made us closer and makes me more present,” Marcy Maldonado said. “I feel like when moms work full-time, they miss out on important moments that I’m now getting with all of the time spent together. Being mother and daughter allows us to debate over issues and easily come to an agreement, and we have an edge because even when we’re not working, we’re still thinking of new flavors and ideas.”
The truck has some standard cupcake classics, but it also specializes in creative treats. Some popular recent options have been the pineapple upside down cupcake – a vanilla cake topped with caramelized pineapple compote, vanilla cream cheese frosting and a cherry – and the Beyoncé-themed “Drunk In Love” cupcake – a pink Moscato cupcake topped with strawberry Moscato cream cheese frosting and a fondant surfboard.
“Our goal is to make every cupcake moist, light and fluffy, no matter the flavor,” Brittany Maldonado said. “But we’re trying to separate ourselves from the pack by serving more than just cupcakes, and we hope to include even more treats this spring.”
When the truck is commissioned for large events, the Maldonados said it would be challenging to manage their usual baking process between two people. Being a family owned and operated business, Marcy Maldonado said she usually calls on her two other children, Brandon and Shannon, to help out.
“Brandon and Shannon are both very supportive of the business,” Marcy Maldonado said. “Both have helped with large vending events, and Shannon has become an investor in the business because she believes in us.”
With a few other treat-serving spots already on campus, such as Insomnia Cookies and Undrgrnd Donuts, the Maldonados said that Milk + Sugar needs to be competitive.
“When it comes down to it, we’re all serving some kind of sweet treat, unlike most trucks at Temple that are serving breakfast and lunch items,” Brittany Maldonado said. “We’re all more of an impulse purchase in comparison to buying a salad or sandwich. Additionally, Milk + Sugar is not the first cupcake truck in Philadelphia and probably not the last.”
Marcy Maldonado said Main Campus is one of their favorite places to park Milk + Sugar.
“We’ve had nothing but positive reactions to our truck and are always excited to sell at Temple,” Marcy Maldonado said.
Ariane Pepsin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.