Zucchini Kill is Austin’s resident musician-owned vegan bakery with a punk-rock ethos
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When it comes to punk ethos and delicious gluten-free vegan goods, one Austin, Texas bakery takes the cake. As co-founders of self-described feminist, musician-owned bakery Zucchini Kill, former bandmates Cece Moon and Jessica Freda prepare pastries full of punk influence and free of animal products in the live music capital of the world.
The bakery, named after riot grrrl pioneers Bikini Kill, caught the attention of frontwoman Kathleen Hanna shortly after opening in 2017 when Hanna took to Facebook to name the now-iconic Rebel Swrrrl rolls. Other Zucchini Kill classics include Cream Coffins — a vegan version of Twinkies — as well as cleverly named cupcakes, like the Snickerbrutal and Laven-Derketa.
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“Sometimes it starts with a band. Sometimes it starts with a cupcake,” Cece Moon says of the creative naming process. “All of us that are a part of the Zucchini Kill collective, we’re all really, really influenced by music, so it’s fun and exciting and collaborative to come up with names.”
[Rebel Swrrrl rolls / Courtesy of Zucchini Kill]
But Zucchini Kill’s punk influences don’t stop with puns. In fact, punk is at the center of the bakery's ethos, and they support fellow musicians by offering touring bands passing through Austin a discount on baked goods — a move inspired by their own experiences touring with fewer vegan options at their disposal.
“Being vegan on the road, at least in the early 2000s, there wasn’t really a lot of vegan food, so we were just living off chips,” recalls Freda, who formerly played drums in punk bands. “It was always really special to be able to crash with friends and if they made us a vegan meal. It was like, ‘Oh my god, this is the best.’ We wanted to take that approach. We want to make it cozy and inviting, and to support the music industry.”
[Photo by Audrey Viera]
The Zucchini Kill co-founders reach out to bands on social media and bring desserts, like cookie cakes adorned with their logo, to their shows. Some of the many artists they’ve baked for include Napalm Death, Power Trip, and Lingua Ignota, as well as their namesakes Bikini Kill.
As Moon describes, excitement is high in the kitchen when tours come to town. She says, “There’s this [energy] in the kitchen when there’s a band that we’re excited to see, whether all of us are excited or just a few of us are excited. We’re like, ‘Alright, who’s decorating for them?’”
They deliver their baked goods throughout Austin in a customized hearse, emblazoned with the slogan “Our cupcakes are to die for.” Initially purchased as a cheaper alternative to a van, the once-silver hearse is now jet black and the space intended for coffin storage is packed with pastries. Freda calls it “the most perfect delivery vehicle because it’s so smooth," and says, “Even if [it] dies tomorrow, I would want us to get another hearse because it works out so well.”
The metal theme is very much apparent inside the bakery, too, with heavy music blasting whenever you walk in. At the flagship North Loop shop, you can hear everything from Sepultura to Crystal Castles while enjoying sweets at a black picnic table or inside where neon purple lighting illuminates the space. Freda describes the bakery as a “comfy, cozy spot for weirdos."
The welcoming environment of Zucchini Kill goes hand in hand with Freda and Moon’s commitment to inclusivity in their baking. In addition to being vegan and gluten-free bakers, they also try to avoid potential allergens, in order to make their sweets accessible to as many people as possible.
“We try to be as inclusive as possible when it comes to ingredients so that everybody can enjoy our stuff,” Freda says. They also strive to keep everything environmentally friendly and ethically sourced, using compostable packaging for everything from the containers for their cupcakes to the stickers that seal their dry cookie mixes.
[Photo by Audrey Viera]
In 2022, Zucchini Kill expanded to two locations and also into savory offerings, absorbing their kitchenmates’ gluten-free bread company Misty Morning Bakery just two weeks after the second location’s soft opening. While Moon and Freda initially struggled to get patrons in the new shop’s door at first, now business is thriving.
At the new Central Austin location, they also sell vinyl and vintage apparel that they aim to keep as reasonable as possible. "It's frustrating to me when you go into a vintage store and you see incredibly overpriced vintage T-shirts [and] people that aren't passionate about the bands or the actual clothes,” Moon says. “[Because] young people like us can't always afford those kinds of things, all of our band T-shirts are affordable, all of our band hoodies are affordable.”
With the second location now open five days a week, Moon and Freda continue to increase Zucchini Kill’s presence in Austin by reaching out to touring musicians online, partnering with their neighboring bar, Tweedy’s, for happy hours, and delivering baked goods to over 60 wholesalers around the city. And it's all while staying true to their mission of cultivating an inclusive environment in line with punk ideology.
“We're here to be accessible and to be inclusive, all of our ingredients are inclusive,” says Moon. “Even with inflation, we're trying to be accessible at a price point, too. That's also not sacrificing us taking care of our staff and using the highest quality ingredients. I think that comes across in our branding, in our stores and how they look, and how our desserts taste, too.”