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Violet Sweet Shoppe's guilt-free treats

Crystal Rice and Michael Chinn peddle vegan sweets

Imagine a gingerbread house, a tall one. When you climb up to the second story, you can gaze down upon a vat of tempting, swirling chocolate.

That gingerbread house — a real candy store nestled in California’s Sierra Nevada foothills — has transfixed Crystal Rice since her childhood, so much so that she felt compelled to create her own magical experience to share.

Violet Sweet Shoppe, filled with its chocolates and caramels and gumdrops and other delights, offers its own brand of sensory overload in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood. It’s magical, yes. But every candy on the premises also happens to be free of artificial colors and flavors, and also vegan (free of dairy products and sugar refined with bone char). The chocolate is ethically sourced. Rice even made sure to carry French Violet candies sweetened with beet sugar. Her grandmother Violet, the shop’s namesake, always carried them in her purse and their scent has lingered in Rice’s memory.

“I like creating that kind of atmosphere, where people can come and have very tasty things and have it stick with them,” says Rice, who speaks from experience. She and her husband, Michael Chinn, also own Violet Sweet Shoppe Vegan Bakery across town near Children’s Hospital. There the egg- and dairy-free bundt cakes, cupcakes, peanut butter cups, tarts, shortbread cookies, and other treats earn acclaim from families of kids with allergies and dietary restrictions. Rice says the candy store is a new opportunity to watch kids who often lack fun choices get to stand, transfixed, like any other kid in any other candy store, suddenly overwhelmed by options.

“It’s the first time for some of them that they get to pick whatever they want,” she says.

Rice recommends that first-timers try the cherry TruJoy fruit chews (“like a Starburst minus the gelatin”); Cocomels (chocolate-covered coconut milk caramels); and vegan “milk” chocolate from Chocolate Hollow in Vermont, a bean-to-bar chocolaterie.

If you live closer to either the bakery or candy store, order your treats in advance and pick them up at the closest location.

6410 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle


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