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 Breaking Barriers with Baking 


Picture this: You are in Athens at the agora during the 5th century BCE and a man by the name of Socrates begins to question you while you are trying to buy plums. He asks what you as an individual will do that will change the world. How could you as a single person really revolutionize the narrative?

Well, if you were Tia and Mark El, co-owners of Sweet T’s Bakery and Snack Shop, you would have an answer for him. One that would begin right where you stood- at the market!


Sweet T’s Bakery and Snack Shop in Reading Terminal Market

There are many markets mapping the US that are considered infamous. There is Pike Place Market in Seattle where they throw fish across the walk path. Perhaps The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco with its extreme farm freshness. Even Reading Terminal Market in one of the greatest historic states, Pennsylvania. 

Reading Terminal Market stands at the center of Philadelphia as one of the oldest markets to exist in America- I’m talking 128 years old! And it, just like many others, houses all of your favorite market things like flowers, hand-crafted home decor, homemade jams, and confections.

(All items of this sort can be found on the list included if they are black-owned options at the market). 

Cooking Alchemy: Handcrafted, plant based spices and blends

De’Village: African jewelry, artwork, fabrics, accessories, and decor

OK Produce: Fresh affordable produce

Really Real Ginger: Ginger based beverages and candies

Sweet Nina’s: 2019 Best of Philly’s Banana Pudding

Careda’s Caribbean Cuisine: Authentic jerk chicken and other caribbean classics

Keven Parker’ s Soul Food Cafe: Award-winning Southern home cooking

What a Crock: Slow cooker meals

Amazulu: Handcrafted sterling silver jewelry from around the world

Yet, for as long as the market has been around, 1893 in fact, it has never had a black-owned bakery stand among its 80 vendors. That’s right. Never. 

A statement only true until spring of last year. Talk about victory! 

Beginning in 2014, Sweet T’s Bakery first opened with a shop location in Southern Philadelphia, but was soon closed with the intention to take their comforting sweets on the road via food truck. However, it is evident that Tia and Mark sought to reach an even larger community, thus becoming the first black-owned bakery spot in all of Reading Terminal Market. Since then, Sweet t’s Bakery and Snack Shop has flooded with pride and flavor where they sell their reimagined sweet potato pastries, most famously pies. Among their pies, you can find cakes, cookies, and other mouthwatering desserts, all of which are inspired by recipes that Tia’s grandmother passed on. They are truly the type of homemade that everybody needs.

It is almost easier to assume that after so many years everything has already been done, but the story of Sweet T’s Bakery has struck present time. History is still being written with every day that passes and there will always be room change. Even if you are a single person. What do you hope to contribute? And hey, if you can’t come up with anything, catch a train or a flight to Philadelphia and taste the sweet potato revolution.