Lady of the Commercial Drive Licorice Parlour

(The outline of the following article was in my "drafts" file since late October of 2013, when I first made contact with Mary Jean Dunsdon aka "Watermelon" and "Weed Diva" [and I'll show you here how she got both of those nicknames], the owner of Commercial Drive Licorice Parlour in Vancouver, Canada. 

While doing research on Tristan Risk for her July 2013 interview, I learned that her "day job" at that time, was as a sexy sugar baker at the Commercial Drive Licorice Parlour. Seeing the shop is/was owned and operated by an all-female staff, I made note of it at the time for a future article to be entitled "Ladies of the Commercial Drive Licorice Parlour." When I first proposed the idea Mary Jean, she said it sounded like a "sweet & salty idea."

Initially, I got answers from Mary Jean to a couple of my questions for her, but I had more, for her as well as Tristan and the other ladies who worked at her shop. So, I again contacted Mary Jean, keeping Tristan in the loop, in January of 2014 for a follow-up Q&A session. Hopefully, one that would include some of her colleagues. In short; it didn't happen and this article sat in the "drafts" file, which I don't intend to be a permanent home for any article I start. I contacted Mary Jean again in June of this year, to try to get together with her and complete this piece, but that again, ended up not happening. So, what follows is what I got from Mary Jean and what I dug up myself.)

Vancouver's locally-famous Commercial Drive Licorice Parlour is owned by the equally locally-famous Mary Jean Dunsdon. Also know as "Watermelon" and "Weed Diva," (and I'll show you why here) Mary Jean employs an all-female staff. She jokingly told me she considers herself a criminal mastermind because she read somewhere it was illegal to only hire smart, gorgeous, and reliable girls. The ladies creating the goodies at her shop include burlesque queen Tristan Risk, whom I had the pleasure of interviewing for this site in July of 2013.

With some of her  hoop creations at her shop
CHRIS: How many ladies work there and who are they?
MARY JEAN: Myself, Tristan Risk, Amanda Swan, Alison Powell, and sometimes Piper Marr. Kaylah Zander will return to work in December after her classes finish and "Bitsy" aka Kayla Blandford has taken a 3 month leave to canvass for "Sensible BC Campaign" full time. I read somewhere it was illegal to only hire smart, gorgeous, reliable girls. I am a criminal mastermind this way.
CHRIS: What are some of the Licorice Parlour's special creations?
MARY JEAN:All of our licorice is imported. Our special house creations include our infamous Quinoa Waffles. We mill our own organic quinoa and sprout organic almonds for fresh almond milk. dairy free and gluten free with sugar free options, as well. I have also been perfecting my "Nice Cream." Sprouted organic cashew milk ice cream flavored with Dutch chocolate, salted licorice, and lavender. That is one ice cream, not three. Lest we forget the hula hoops. All unique, local, handmade hula hoops.


My unanswered follow-up questions to Mary Jean and the ladies of the CDLP included; what inspired her to make those hula hoops, who was the best hula hooper in the shop (my first guess was Tristan, but I've since seen that Mary Jean has some pretty good moves), what were the signature creations of each lady, her stand-up comedy, and how her nicknames, "Watermelon" and "Weed Diva" came about. I can speculate about the answers to some of my questions, but there are two that I can decisively answer without any help from Mary Jean.

    
Regarding the "Weed Diva" moniker; Mary Jean is also in a Vancouver celebrity chef, of sorts, and not just because of the sweet treats she makes and sells at her shop. She's well-know for her marijuana-laced recipes that she sells to the local medicinal marijuana dispensaries, not to mention the pink Volkswagen bus she drives. Above is the Weed Diva gracing the covers of the September 2000 and September 2001 issues of High Times magazine, the "Farmer's Almanac for stoners."

Mary Jean earned her nickname "Watermelon" or "Watermelon Girl," as non-locals often referred to her, from selling slices of watermelon at Vancouver's (in)famous clothing optional Wreck Beach, where she was a fixture for over 20 years. The above circa 2013 photo shows that Watermelon Girl is/was definitely not urban legend. However, according to this fairly recent article at The Tyee, Mary Jean decided to "hang up her birthday suit," much to the disappointment of Wreck Beach regulars, who will always consider her a member of their community. According to an even more recent article at the Georgia Straight, Mary Jean has plans for a future mayoral run in her home city of Vancouver. See more of Mary Jean at:

The Commercial Drive Licorice Parlour's Facebook Page
Her Youtube Channel, Baking a Fool of Myself
Vancouver Sun Article
Mary Jean on Twitter

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