Melanie Stracko Melanie Stracko, Pastry Chef Sangria Cupcakes with Buttercream Frosting The Perfect Purée isn’t just for people. Pennsylvania baker Melanie Stracko has a thriving business baking custom dog treats including a line for motion sickness that features The Perfect Purée Ginger. Named after her boxer, Meatloaf, Meatloaf’s Kitchen fills special orders for every holiday, even Election Day. “We try to celebrate everything in life including special treats for being heartworm free,” Melanie says with a smile. Christmas is her biggest holiday and she begins filling orders in November. Melanie estimates she fills 100 orders every month, not including the 75 bags of treats she sells at the weekly farmer’s market. Pretzels, cupcakes, donuts, bones, hearts, guns and snowmen — you name it and she can make it, with artful frosting and the lucky pup’s name. “Per year I would say I hand-cut over 50,000 treats. I do all the rolling, cutting and decorating by hand and I have a five-quart Kitchen Aid that does all the mixing,” Melanie says. Melanie markets the ginger treats to people whose dogs tend to get car sick. She suggests people give them to their dogs an hour prior to leaving, 1 treat for every 25 pounds of a dog’s weight. Although she is not a vet and can’t make any recommendations about a dog’s diet, she says the treats also ease the discomfort some dogs get from medicine. All of Melanie’s treats are made fresh to order with human-grade ingredients and no chemicals or preservatives. Along with Ginger Purée, Melanie makes the motion sickness treats with whole wheat flour, cinnamon and black strap molasses. A Barkers Dozen of 13 treats about the size of a quarter comes in a cardboard box with colorful ribbon. The overwhelmingly positive reviews on Melanie’s site are impressive by any standard, as are the photos her customers send her of dogs enjoying their treats. “The praise I get from my customers keeps me smiling every day,” she says. Melanie developed her love of baking as a small child when she helped her mother bake bread and cookies. She graduated from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, R.I. with a bachelor’s degree in baking and pastry arts. When Melanie isn’t baking for Meatloaf’s Kitchen, she’s the pastry chef at Mountaintop Lodge in Pocono Pines, PA, where she introduced The Perfect Purée after a sales representative at a previous job gave her samples. “From then on, I have been hooked. The flavors are unparalleled to any other purée or even fresh fruit,” she says. “I love to stand at the doorway to the bakery and listen to people talk about how good something is. Just the other day a young girl was raving about her cupcake insisting everyone at the table try it. It makes me so happy to hear that.” Her favorite flavors are Coconut, Cherry and Red Sangria, which she turns into cupcakes. “I love to take old recipes and enhance the flavors or add new ones to make them even better. I would love to experiment with the Chipotle Sour. I think it is just begging to be turned into an amazing dessert,” Melanie says.