Girl from Cromwell, 10, cooks dog treats to support dog charities


MIDDLETOWN – A 10-year-old’s fledgling interest in baking, which began as a way to keep busy during the pandemic, quickly branched out into the business of human-grade dog treats, part of the proceeds being donated to canine charities.

Aspiring entrepreneur Ella Tessman, a new fifth-grader at Woodside Intermediate School who has loved dogs “forever,” started her lucrative business baking a dog’s birthday cake.

Not only are her human customers at Ella’s Eats happy with her new venture, so are her “pupstomers,” as Ella calls them.

“There is nothing in them that humans cannot eat,” said his mother, Johanna Tessman.

Their popularity was unexpected, Ella said. “At first when the neighbors were trying to buy them, I wasn’t prepared,” said the college girl, who prices her products at around $ 5 a bag.

“It took a few months before she became a routine with this,” mom said.

So far, Ella has sold between $ 800 and $ 900 worth of treats, which are packaged in cellophane or plastic polka-dot bags printed with dog paws. This does not include her purchases of supplies, her mother said.

Ella buys all of her own supplies with her profits, including a stand mixer and special cookie cutouts and molds, mom said.

She sells bone-shaped cookies in two sizes, workout treats, which are about the size of a blueberry, and, her latest offering – uncooked peanut butter balls, honey, flax seeds and a few other ingredients, said Johanna Tessman.

During the school year, Ella and her two best friends would cook her puppy products on the weekends. They help with cutting, mixing, baking and bagging the treats, which last up to three weeks, Ella said. “We are doing rotations.”

Now that summer vacation has arrived, Ella spends between one and two hours on each batch of five to six bags, she said.

When she’s in the kitchen, Ella is “focused and demanding, but not in a bad way,” said Johanna Tessman. “She knows exactly how she wants to do it. Everything has to be handled by her, because she wants everything to be right, to make sure they have the right texture, the right size.

“She’s always been like that,” her mother said.

After baking a dog’s birthday cake early last summer with her own frosting recipe – made with yogurt and peanut butter – Ella started getting requests from neighbors and others who sent a message to his mother on Facebook. “We just told a few people that, and at Christmas, every day she had orders. It was crazy for a while, ”said Johanna Tessman.

That’s when they created an Instagram page for customers to browse through photos of what’s for sale and their furry customers.

Ella already has a regular customer. A woman who has three dog treat orders every Monday, said Mom, who added that her daughter’s efforts have grown with grassroots support. “It was very organic. It just happened like that.

Lucy, the rescue of the family’s Jack Russell Terrier / Whippet mix, is Ella’s # 1 customer. So far, the girl has taught Lucy to give her paw and wave, to go around in circles and obey the order to stay. “She listens to instructions when I give her these particular treats,” she said.

Lucy is so excited to try Ella’s creations that the family has installed a barrier in the kitchen to prevent her from entering the workspace. “She’s just going to sit there and wait for everything,” Johanna Tessman said.

Last month, they created a website,, incorporating Ella’s birthday, March 10, in the URL.

She always makes sure the ingredients are safe for dogs to use, her mother said. “We mainly looked at whether dogs could have things,” Ella said.

Lucy has a sensitive stomach, Ella said, so she’s the perfect test subject.

Since chocolate is toxic to dogs, Ella has found an ideal substitute for her “Puppernutter” soufflés: carob, which is naturally sweet. “She melts her own ‘chocolate’ in these molds and puts peanut butter in them,” Johanna Tessman said.

“They’re actually pretty good,” Ella said.

This isn’t the college’s first foray into charity sales. When the pandemic began, Ella, who also enjoys swimming and fishing with her father, began painting and sold enough of her artwork to raise $ 500 for Freedom Service Dogs of Colorado, Johanna Tessman said.

The family’s church, Third Congregational in Middletown, matched that amount, turning the donation into a gift of $ 1,000, Mom added. “They support her so much there,” she said.

Ten percent of Ella’s proceeds will go to the Connecticut Humane Society in Newington. So far, she has raised $ 75 for the cause, mom said. Ella was delighted to learn that she would be receiving a private tour of the facility, which has yet to reopen to the public.

“My husband and I are incredibly proud of her,” Mom said. “She’s done so much. She is very ambitious.

Ella’s grandfather, who has owned a business for many years, is looking to make her an LLC. “It took off more than expected,” said Johanna Tessman.

Ella is already thinking of continuing the activity for the long term. “I think it will be something for the future,” she said.

Ella will be selling her dog treats at Cromwell Farmers Market on July 16 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information, visit and @ ellas.eats310 on Instagram. Dog cakes can be prepared on request.

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