Public Health

Health Department Shuts Down 11-Year-Old's Cupcake Business


allieosmar / Foter / CC BY-NC

The Health Department of Madison County, Illinois on Sunday shut down a baking operation run by an 11-year-old girl.

Chloe Stirling may be young, but she's already developed serious culinary and small business skills. She began an enterprise, called "Hey, Cupcake!," out of her family's kitchen two years ago. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the sixth grader earns around $200 a month selling her baked goods. Stirling hopes to use her income to one day open her own bakery. Her mother, Heather, also offered to match the money Stirling makes to buy a car when she turns 16. Additionally, "she has donated many to charitable events, including a fundraiser for a student with cancer and, most recently, taking some to residents at a senior care center," writes the Belleville News-Democrat.

The desserts didn't sit well with the local government, though. The health department called Stirling's parents and demanded that the girl cease operations, because she was violating the Illinois State Food Service Code. Stirling lacked the necessary permit and the kitchen wasn't properly licensed.

"The guy told me I either had to buy her a bakery or put in a second kitchen (in the house)," Stirling's mother said.

How did the sleuths at the health department discover this renegade baker? She was on the front page of the local news. The News-Democrat wanted to highlight Stirling's entrepreneurship, so they wrote a feature about her.

Health Promotion Manager Amy Yeager told the Post-Dispatch, "The rules are the rules. It's for the protection of the public health. The guidelines apply to everyone." When asked whether it was worth the potential poor public relations, she said, "People will react how they choose to react. But it is our job."

The sixth grade scofflaw doesn't blame the department for finally catching up with her code-violating behavior. She told KSDK, "Well, I think it's just the rules are rules and they kind of need to be followed. I really don't blame the health department because it's not really their fault."

This isn't the first time law enforcement has tackled little criminals. Reason has covered numerous regulation-dodging lemonade runners, one of which had cancer, and even a zucchini black marketeer

NEXT: 'The Kronies' Will Make You Laugh in Despair about the State of American Capitalism

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  1. …she’s already developed serious culinary and small business skills.

    Her business skills aren’t all that if she didn’t know enough to let the bureaucracy wet its beak.

    1. She learned the most important business skill: avoiding the government.

      1. It sounds like she’s content with the application of the government-mandated rules destroying her budding business & income stream.


    2. Give the kid a break, there’s a learning curve. Best to learn it now when the capital invested and lost is small.

      1. Hopefully she will learn the right civics lessons from this.

    3. There’s nothing wrong with murder, so long as you let Bender wet his beak…

    4. Her mistake was not selling those cupcakes over an illicit, bitcoin-based internet website.

  2. Voluntary exchange must be stopped, for your own good.

    1. Yeah, why can’t they be content with just forcing her to put up a sign saying “This bakery not licensed by the State of Illinois” and then leave her be?

      Because no one would care about that sign and the whole regulatory would be revealed for the farce that it is.

  3. Crap, my daughter has done this at her high school. I’m so fucked.

    1. I’m calling the government before she kills someone.

      1. This really is attempted involuntary manslaughter. Maybe even conspiracy to commit 2nd degree murder.

    2. Why can’t she just sell weed?

    3. You revealed that you have a daughter in high school on the same board that STEVE SMITH and Warty prowl? Yes, I would say that you are quite fucked.

      1. What more does he have to worry about? I already live in his basement.

  4. “The rules are the rules…People will react how they choose to react. But it is our job.”

    You’ve heard of this discretion thing?

    1. Discretion is just like discrimination and, therefore, unbefitting for a noble public servant, dedicated to equality under the law. Besides, those boots don’t walk over people by themselves.

    2. Bureaucracy lives on deflection. “Just doing my job. If you don’t like it, talk to the people who passed the law.”

      1. Yeah, just like the officers were just following police procedures when they killed Thomas Kelly.

        1. “Just following procedures.”

          “Just wrote procedures to meet our legal mandate.”

          “Just wrote the laws that people elected me to write.”

          All blame flows eventually to the voter, which means no one has to take responsibility for anything. Wonderful system we have here.

    3. Hey, man, they’re just following orders, ok?

      1. You know who else was just following orders?

        1. Reginald fitzUrse, Hugh de Morville, William de Tracy, and Richard le Breton?

          Or were they acting on a wish interpreted as an order?

  5. but I liked my cupcakes!

  6. The sixth grade scofflaw doesn’t blame the department for finally catching up with her code-violating behavior. She told KSDK, “Well, I think it’s just the rules are rules and they kind of need to be followed. I really don’t blame the health department because it’s not really their fault.”

    I would like to think that she is being nice on the surface and actually planning mass layoffs when she wins the top job in Madison County elections.

    On the surface, however, it looks like she is learning to be a good serf.

    1. I take it as a sign she is pretty smart and more capable of abstract reasoning than most adults and nearly the entire press corps.

      She is right. The problem is the law not the people who enforce it. I don’t see how “well we have rules, but if you are a cute little girl or someone we like we won’t enforce them” is better than “rules are rules”. In fact it may be worse.

      1. She should be riling up her customers for a march on her state senator’s office. If she doesn’t do that, then she’s a serf.

        1. And if she does, she is a crony getting a special exemptions for herself unless she gets the whole law repealed. She said the law was the problem and she is eleven fucking years old. I think expecting her to drop out of life and turn community activist is a bit much.

          1. She should get the whole law repealed, of course.

            If the law requires people to have an entirely separate kitchen in order ot legally sell homemade cupcakes, then the law, sir, is an ass.

      2. People who enforce laws are also a problem. They are to be dealt with.

  7. I wonder if Amy Yeager has (redacted) with (redacted)? At the very least we know she sold her (redacted) to the (redacted).

    1. fucked donkeys ass Mexicans

      1. It’s my own version of MadLibs.

    2. smoked pot, Dick Durbin, stash, Chess club

  8. “The guy told me I either had to buy her a bakery or put in a second kitchen (in the house),” Stirling’s mother said.

    You’re gonna need permits for that, except we don’t give permits for that.

    1. No one needs more than 7 kitchens in their house.

      1. This is funny. I once lived in a house in San Francisco that had been two units, but was now one. As a result it had an upstair kitchen and a downstairs one. Some neighbor was pissed at the landlord and called the building inspectors, who informed us that it was “against code” to have more than one kitchen! A kitchen was defined as a stove, refrigerator, and a sink, so they removed one of the stoves.

        Insane. Who cares if a house has more than one kitchen? Was there some sort of multiple-kitchen disaster in the past that caused them to pass this rule? I am at a loss.

  9. If you outlaw cupcake businesses run by children, only outlaws will have cupcake businesses run by children.

    1. Outlaw Cupcake would be a good manga/anime title.

    2. Thanks, now I have to clean the Pepsi off my screen.

  10. She’ll go far. She’s a self-starter, and doesn’t want to antagonize the govt. That’s how most successful businesspeople operate – doing their business and either hoping the govt doesn’t notice, or else complying with the govt’s requirements.

  11. These cases are useful because they set the bureaucrats up for ridicule. And that is almost never a bad thing. I wonder though if making too big of a deal out of them causes the public to miss the point. The problem here is not that the big meanies at the Health Department won’t let a little girl sell cup cakes. The problem here is that the law won’t let anyone sell anything without complying with a ridiculous set of demands and rules. That fact can get lost in all of the “my God they won’t let a child sell cupcakes” pearl clutching.

  12. In my part of the country, you could put in that second kitchen, and be led to believe you’ve satisfied regulations, and then they’ll come back with a list of other things you’ll have to spend money on, and this can go on for many months, even in the rural county where I live.

    1. Whenever a restaurant loses its lease and another takes its place, the new one usually remodels and has to get all new permits. You never see one restaurant close one week or even one month and another open the next. It is always multiple months and sometimes over a year with the space sitting empty and a sign on the door saying “Bob’s Burritos coming soon”.

      That can’t be because the owners take their time. Time is money and everyone involved has an incentive to get up and making money as soon as possible. That is entirely because of the process you describe.

      How many billions or tens of billions of dollars does that cost the economy every year?

      1. But what about all the jobs for pretty bureucrats and stooges that will be created?

        Those are solid middle-class union jobs!

        And those restauranteer capitalists probably only pay minimum wage, anyway, trying to extract as much surplus labor value from the proletariat. We’re doing a valuable service by forcing them to cough up tens of thousands of dollars to support good the people’s workers.

      2. Plus, in places like San Francisco, you have environmental impact statements, and the neighbors get to chime in. One ice cream shop here went through months of hell and thousands of dollars because they wanted to expand into the unit next to them, and add a door between them. You’d have thought they wanted to build a fireworks factory from the reactions they got.

        1. When I lived in Eau Claire, WI someone tried to open a new coffee shop in the “downtown” area. The store got to about 90% complete and would open in a couple more weeks when suddenly progress on it stopped. Seems they ran afoul of some regulation about the facilities they need for a place which would sell beverages and prepare food. Wound up taking them an extra 9 months to make the alterations and obtain the necessary permits. Place wound up going out of business within a 6 months; seemed they burned up all their cash and lines of credit when their opening was delayed and couldn’t survive that first year with what was left when they finally opened.

          Of course, one of the county board supervisors, you know, the people who manage the angency that inspects and issues permits, happened to be the owner of a local chain of coffee houses that would have faced increased competition from the new entrant.

          I’m sure it was all above board though. No way would someone use their access to power, no matter how little, to quash competition.

          1. In SF it is common to hire “expeditors” who know the ropes and have connections, in order to navigate all the zoning regulations.

  13. The rules are the rules. It’s for the protection of the public health. The guidelines apply to everyone.

    I am sure the health department will see the stupidity of the law and lobby the state legislature to change the law. NOT!

    1. They should openly advocate for limits on their own power? That would be improper lobbying, unlike the legitimate lobbying when government agencies demand *more* power and money.

    2. It’s for the protection of the public health.

      As if those rules do any such thing.

  14. Little criminals?

    Short people got
    no reason to
    be in business.


  16. She broke the first two of three Grumpy rules:
    1 Keep your head down.
    2 Keep your mouth shut.
    3 Keep your ass covered.
    She’ll learn to avoid publicity, see rules 1 and 2.

  17. You guys are falling for the broken window fallacy. With her out of business how will the poor undertakers make a living?

    I’m assuming that her flagrant disregard for the approved health rules has led to untold deaths in her hometown from cupcake poisoning, right?

    Casket sales will plummet, the children of embalmers will go to bed hungry, and the list goes on and on.

  18. The problem is that when you talk this through with most people who aren’t liberty oriented, they’ll eventually be persuaded that this is acceptable collateral damage.

    We have a Nanny State for a reason, and it’s not simply because proggies love authority. It’s because people love to shirk responsibility and make it someone else’s job. This type of shit is never going away.

    Is it Friday yet? FFS this is depressing.

  19. The new American scourge, School Bake Sales. Coming to a small town near you.

    1. Have you been living under a rock? Been happening for at least 3 years.

  20. Oh stop it! This little brat is clearly a greedy Kruel Korporation person, probably funded by the Koch Brothers, who is out to exploit the working class and doesn’t give a shit about The People. I bet she did not even pay herself a living wage or offer herself minimum
    affordable coverage with free contraceptives! This lousy One Percenter To Be deserved to be leveled so that the Rest of Us can have a chance to remain in the middle class.

  21. Because Madison County is soooo saturated with bakeries, or businesses of any kind.

  22. If they had any balls, the residents of Madison County would all open up illicit cupcake stands on the same day.

  23. that really makes me angry!

  24. “The rules are the rules.”
    And tautologies are tautologies. What does this REALLY mean? I guess it REALLY means you can’t fight City Hall.

    “People will react how they choose to react.”
    In other words, we don’t care how you feel.

    “But it is our job.”
    So is prostitution for a whore.

  25. 11-year-old cupcakes!? Good thing they shut that down!

    But seriously, folks, I notice the article didn’t say what she planned to do to satisfy both her desire to make money and her creativity. Why doesn’t she contract with a commercial kitchen to bake the cupcakes under her brand and to her specs? That way she can save time and increase her receipts. Seriously, how could she possibly make enough money for a car baking cupcakes in her own kitchen in her spare time, when she could have professionals turning them out around the clock, while she’s in school, etc.?

  26. well I suppose they could have jailed her or did a no knock raid..this is win for her

    1. They could have shot the family cupcake.

      This reminds me of some years back when the Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture made a campaign stop in our town during tthe Fourth of July parade and got his picture on the front page of the paper enjoying an ice cream cone sold by the Boy Scouts on the sidewalk along the parade route. The thing is – the Georgia Department of Agriculture at the time was under fire for the new rules they had passed that had outlawed church dinners and school bake sales and boy scouts selling ice cream along parade routes. Public scofflawery!

  27. She is really good. How can she not be really mad the health Department showed no contempt the just said “we are shutting this down build a kitchen in your house or buy a place to start a bakery.” did they ever think about why she is selling baked goods in the first place.If her and her family had money to to that then I’m sure they would but they don’t. If the Health department is so concerned about it then they should pay for the kitchen or bakery.

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