Sweat and savory: Olivia's Eats and Treats inspired by family love
RIPLEY — Olivia Rhodes learned how to cook homemade biscuits with her grandmother when she was 10 years old. She's been hooked ever since.
Rhodes' grandmother, Goldie, has passed, but her love for cooking and baking now lies with her granddaughter. In 2019, when Rhodes was a senior in high school, she began selling candies and sweets at school.
She would bring square-shaped hard candies to her friends at school as Christmas gifts. People liked them so much she began selling them. That's when Olivia's Eats and Treats was born.
Her 65 flavors of hard candies is just the tip of the iceberg for what Rhodes can conjure up. She makes everything from cakes and cookies to bread and buffalo chicken dip.
Her favorite thing to make is cookies. Whether they're chocolate chip or peanut butter, they make her smile. She likes to put a twist on all of her creations. Once the chocolate chip cookies are done, she'll lather on buttercream to the inside of one and make a cookie sandwich.
Where did the sweet tooth come from?
Rhodes' grandmother instilled her love for the kitchen. Goldie began showing Rhodes how to prepare food from a young age.
Biscuits were the first thing she learned how to make. As a 10-year-old, she would eagerly spoon the dough out of a large mixing bowl and dollop it onto the baking sheet — they're called drop biscuits because you drop the dough straight onto the pan.
Olivia's mom, Debbie Rhodes, used to joke that her daughter needed to be able to see over the stove to learn how to cook. That didn't stop Olivia.
Debbie is amazed by Olivia's thoughtfulness. In high school, Olivia was in a welding class. She called her mom one day and asked if there was any bacon at the house. Puzzled, her mom said there wasn't. Olivia was determined to cook something for her class after she finished welding her pipe stove.
Olivia settled for grilled cheeses.
Olivia and her dad, Joe Rhodes, cook together often. He'll send her a recipe he found online and they will sweep the kitchen for the ingredients. If they don't have them all, they'll make do. Olivia is resourceful.
Pursuing her own baking and cooking business has made Olivia practice patience. As of now, Olivia operates her business out of her parent's home.
Olivia's business had momentum — then COVID hit. Her dad, Joe Rhodes, injured his leg at work and was out of work for 20 months. Debbie said if COVID and Joe's injury hadn't happened, Olivia would have her own building to operate out of.
"At times it's been a little hard," Olivia said. "But it's fun."
But through all of the obstacles, Olivia has remained inspired to continue her passion. She occasionally has pop-up events where she sets up a tent filled with her treats. Every time she's done this, almost everything has sold out.
Customers can place orders by calling or texting Olivia at 304-531-7965.
Besides washing dishes, the kitchen is Olivia's safe space. When she enters the kitchen she feels a wave of comfort — she remembers her grandmother.
After her grandmother taught her how to make biscuits, she learned many of her other trademarks like applesauce stack cakes and squirrel gravy.
No matter what Olivia's whipping up, it probably has a connection to her grandmother.
— Katelyn Waltemyer (she/her) is the General Assignment and Enterprise Reporter for Jackson Newspapers in Jackson County, West Virginia. Have a news tip on local government or education? Or a good feature? You can reach Katelyn at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kate_Waltemyer.