Until Monday, 11-year-old Chloe Stirling of Troy, Illinois, was an American success story. She goes to school, plays soccer, and has — or, rather, had — not one but two part-time businesses, one of which brought in about $200 a month. The success of her cupcake business, Hey, Cupcake!, caught the attention of the Belleville News-Democrat, which published a story about it on Sunday.
This being 21st-century America, however, such achievement could not go unpunished. And so, on Monday, the Madison County Health Department “called and said they were shutting us down,” Chloe’s mother, Heather Stirling, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Chloe had been selling her cupcakes primarily to friends and family for $10 a dozen or $2 for a specialty cupcake. Her treats proved so popular that she occasionally donated them for fundraisers, including one for a classmate who was suffering from cancer in 2012. Helped by her mom’s generous offer to double whatever she earned, she was saving up for a car at age 16 and, eventually, her own bakery. (She also has a pet-sitting business with about a dozen clients.)
Health department spokeswoman Amy Yeager told St. Louis’ KMOV that her department shuttered Hey, Cupcake! because it violated the county’s food ordinance and the Illinois State Food Sanitation Code. It seems that Chloe, under the mistaken assumption that she lives in a free country, had not first paid for the privilege of selling her cupcakes by getting a permit.
That’s not all. Heather Stirling told the Post-Dispatch that she was willing to pay for a permit or any other licenses necessary to keep Chloe in business. Then the health department bureaucrats dropped another bomb: In order for Chloe to continue hawking her wares, the family would have to “buy a bakery or build her a kitchen separate from the one we have,” Stirling said.
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