HIDDEN GEMS, WYOMING’S BEST EATS: Little Bites of Heaven for Sale at ‘Laramie’s Disneyland’

The Sugar Mouse Cupcake House in Laramie occupies the building that once housed Teaman's Department Store. (Wyoming Truth photo by David Dudley)

By David Dudley

Special to the Wyoming Truth

LARAMIE, Wyo.—Everyone who walks through the door gets a sugar mouse. That’s Ruth Williams’s policy.

Though she’s lived in the U.S. for 35 years, her lilting Essex accent makes each word, like her cupcakes, distinct and flavorful.

When asked what makes a good cupcake, Williams, owner of The Sugar Mouse Cupcake House, shared her secrets.

“To begin with, we don’t skimp on ingredients,” she said. “We use real, fresh butter and cream.”

“We mix the batter by hand,” she added. “That makes a heavy, solid cake. And we store them while they’re still warm to seal in moisture.”

Owner Ruth Williams takes a break during a busy summer morning at The Sugar Mouse Cupcake House. (Wyoming Truth photo by David Dudley)

Williams and company make about 1,000 cupcakes a day on site and sell 8,000 a week. They add goodies like poppy seeds, Hershey’s chocolate squares, crispy cream-filled wafers, fresh fruits and candied ones. The resulting cupcakes — Oreo, strawberry cheesecake (the two bestsellers), lemon poppy seed (my favorite) and creamsicle, to name a few — cost $4.50 each.

Sure, you could buy a fiver to take home. But where’s the fun in that? If you want to understand why Sugar Mouse is affectionately called “Laramie’s Disneyland,” you’ll have to spring for a tea party.

Tea parties cost $9 for children under 10, $17 for all the others and require advanced booking. Attendees are treated to English scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam; roasted turkey wraps with cranberry and Havarti cheese; petit fours and tea cakes artfully arranged on three-tier trays. Of course, it all comes with choice of tea or chocolate milk, served in a beautiful china tea set. The experience isn’t complete until Sinatra serenades you and your guests.

“There’s a little bit of magic in a tea party,” Williams said. “That’s the crown jewel of what we do. When the kids come in, their eyes go wide.”

Pictured above is what Williams calls a “fiver”—that is, a selection of five cupcakes to go. (Wyoming Truth photo by David Dudley)

From a seed, a kingdom grows

Williams wrestled with the question of how it all began.

“I followed my husband, John, to Laramie 20 years ago,” Williams said. “I opened The Sugar Mouse Cupcake House nearly two years ago . . . “

She trailed off.

“I can’t believe it’s been that long,” she said, finally.

What would one day become The Sugar Mouse Cupcake House began 10 years ago with a bake sale for Heart Mothers, which raises funds to help Cambodian children who have been victims of sex trafficking. Then, there’s the timing of Williams’s decision to trade in a booth at the Laramie farmer’s market, where she sold 1,500 cupcakes weekly from 2015 to 2018, for a little shop at 211 East Grand. The struggles that came with launching a business while the pandemic forced eateries to close nationwide. The unexpected inheritance from her dad, which enabled Williams to buy Sugar Mouse’s current home at 321 S. 2nd Street. The children of all ages who flock to the shop for cupcakes, tea parties and a spot of magic. Her plan to offer franchises in the future.

Williams, who sprinkles her story with references to her faith, takes it one day at a time.

“I feel that there’s always been a guiding hand behind everything I do,” she said. “There are angels in this world if one’s paying attention.”

Emma McCann, 17, rushes a tray of freshly made cupcakes to the front of the shop. (Wyoming Truth photo by David Dudley)

The angel in the sweets shop

Williams said the impulse behind her business took root much earlier than that first bake sale.

“Maybe it all started when I was a girl,” Williams said. “My mum died when I was nine. My dad — who’s one of my angels — fed me and my two sisters on virtually nothing.”

Back then, she lived in Hadleigh, a town of 18,300, in Essex County, England.

“There was a sweets shop on Doorsheath Road, at Broomfield,” Williams recalled. “My friends had money, so they could buy whatever they wanted. I had nothing.”

Williams can’t recall the shop’s name, but she’ll never forget the shopkeeper’s deed: He gave her a sugar mouse. “It was one of the first times I recognized that giving was kindness,” she said. “That stuck with me.”

Williams wishes that she could tell the shopkeeper how his act of kindness made her feel. Since that’s no longer possible, she gives a sugar mouse to everyone who enters her shop.

The Sugar Mouse Cupcake House, 321 S. 2nd Street Laramie, Wyoming; (307) 223-2147. Open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Closed Sunday.

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