Sweet Hazel and Co.’s Community-Oriented Approach to Vegan Creations
Food: Interviews & Features
Felicia Hanson was working a full-time job when she first began recreating vegan versions of classic candy bars. As someone who worked in restaurants most of her life and attended culinary school, Hanson understands food. In 2020, Hanson created a Snickers bar rendition made with vegan caramel and chocolate with peanuts. The “Snix” bar, as well as “Crunchies”—a vegan “Twix” alternative—and other candies took off after being introduced to a Utah vegan community page on Facebook. From there, Hanson was selling candies and desserts from her vehicle and driving to different businesses to sell to eager patrons. What started as a full-time job operating from her home then became a stand-alone business in 2023—Sweet Hazel and Co. Bakeshop and Bistro.
With the goal of expanding the business beyond just desserts, Sweet Hazel and Co. prioritizes diet-inclusive options with an assortment of keto, sugar-free and gluten-free treats. This mantra of supporting all diets extends to every facet of Sweet Hazel. Hanson says, “I try to be all-inclusive in every single thing I do, it’s my whole thing. I want everyone to be able to come here and feel welcome.”
“Being a part of this—a part of something—whether that’s a church or gardening community, is good for you, and it’s good for the soul.”
Hanson wanted to create vegan baked goods that were not only recognizable but nostalgic. “I wanted the [desserts] to be what people remember … so they don’t feel like they’re missing out on anything,” she says. This idea inspired Hanson to create Sweet Hazel’s vegan twist on the recognizable Samoas Girl Scout cookie. Originally made with butter, eggs, milk and caramel—all non-vegan components—Hanson recreated the instantly recognizable flavors with plant-based ingredients.
“Some creations are harder than others,” she says, “but a lot of it comes naturally to me … luckily, my brain works like that.”
Within the bistro and bakeshop lies a mini-mart filled to the brim with vegan goodies from a variety of local businesses. Park City-based Drool Dog Treats creates vegan dog treats made from spinach, heirloom fruits and vegetables. BE-HIVE offers plant-based meats such as pepperoni, deli slices and marinated filets all made from seitan. Sweet Hazel’s selection of meat, cheese and dairy alternatives is vast, and the menu also features to-go deli items such as the chickpea “chicken” salad with vegan pita bread.
Hanson’s decision to include so many other vegan businesses besides her own was a conscious choice of inclusion and support. “We are in this together … trying to save as many animals as possible,” she says. While Hanson creates and sells desserts and bistro-style food, other vegan and plant-based businesses provide her with the ingredients to make her menu items such as with local business Vegan Daddy Meats who supplies artisanal meat for Sweet Hazel’s reuben sandwiches. Many of the plant-based restaurants in Utah have supportive ties to one another.
“I try to be all-inclusive in every single thing I do, it’s my whole thing. I want everyone to be able to come here and feel welcome.”
The robustness of the vegan scene in the valley is due in part to those who are vegan or interested in plant-based eating but also to the business owners who provide such a high-quality array of vegan cuisine. Sweet Hazel is a cornerstone for community care beyond the actual food itself. Hanson is driven by the desire to provide a safe space for anyone who walks through the door. She reminds herself that “we are out here doing our best every single day for our community. I wouldn’t be anywhere without them. Being a part of this—a part of something—whether that’s a church or gardening community, is good for you, and it’s good for the soul.”
Sweet Hazel’s candy bars can be found all over Utah including but not limited to: Hello! Bulk Markets, Sugar House Coffee and Vegan Daddy Meats in Salt Lake City as well as Copper Moose Farmstand and Daily Rise in Park City. You can also show support for the business by checking out their storefront, located at 282 W 7200 S in Midvale or placing an order through their website sweethazelandco.com.
Read more about local vegan eats:
Vegan Daddy Meats: Salt Lake City’s First “Plant Butcher”
Vegan Roots and Cowboy Boots at Old Cuss Coffee