Beatrice Bakery Co. - A Slice of History!
Nestled in America’s heartland lies a bakery that believes every moment in life should be enjoyed with something delicious. It’s a philosophy that Beatrice Bakery Co.® holds close to heart, and it’s why they bake up the freshest, sweetest, most flavorful dessert cakes the country has ever known.
The secret to Grandma’s Fruitcake dates to 1917. The Lantz Brothers, two German immigrants who operated a bakery in St. Louis, MO, were looking for a way to keep their bakers busy during the slow summer months. While rummaging through a trunk in the attic, they found a recipe their father carefully tucked away. It was for their grandmother’s favorite fruitcake! Her secret – use the freshest ingredients! A combination of ripe fancy cherries, fresh succulent pineapples, golden raisins, crunchy almonds, walnuts, seedling pecans, and just the right amount of bourbon, rum, and brandy! Then, it’s the slow bake using a secret process, plus the cakes mellowed to perfection, that made their Grandma’s recipe special.
In the late 1950s, the Lantz brothers searched for a bakery that could continue the tradition of baking their world’s finest fruitcakes! They soon found it in Wilke Baking Company of Beatrice, NE! Carl Wilke, the owner of Wilke Baking Company, had in 1924 completed the building of a new sophisticated bakery at 201 South 5th Street, which offered a variety of wheat and rye breads, buns, sweet rolls, and doughnuts.
During the early ’60s, ownership of the bakery had changed hands several times, going first from the Wilke family to Peter Pan Bread, then to a New York investment group, and finally to a group of local employees. The new owners negotiated with the Lantz Brothers to be the bakery for their popular fruitcakes! The Lantz Brothers agreed and visited Beatrice on several occasions to oversee the transfer from their St. Louis bakeshop to this Beatrice bakery as well as to ensure the integrity and sweet success of their grandmother’s original recipe. Confident the recipe was in the right hands, the Lantz Brothers eventually sold them the recipe rights. For several years, Wilke Baking Co. continued to make bread, adding a seasonal production line for the delicious fruitcake.
By the early 1970’s they dropped the bread line to completely focus on the expansion of the fruitcakes. In 1974, Metz Baking Company, a family-owned bakery based in Sioux City Iowa, purchased the bakery. Metz Baking Company continued the operation as Grandma’s Fruit Cake until 1993 when they renamed the business Grandma’s Bake Shoppe. Metz later became part of Specialty Foods Corp and in 1998, The Earthgrains Co. purchased Metz Baking Co. from Specialty Foods Corp. Earthgrains, once a part of the Anheuser-Busch franchise was a two and a half billion dollar a year company. Sara Lee Corp. purchased The Earthgrains Co. in 2001. Then, in November 2001 they announced their plans to close Grandma’s Bake Shoppe. A group of local investors wanted to keep the bakery open and keep jobs in the local community, so they formed a new corporation and bought Grandma’s Bake Shoppe. And, on April 22, 2002, the bakery became known as Beatrice Bakery Co. ®
Today, the baking of that original fruitcake recipe lives on! Besides their traditional holiday line of Grandma’s®, Ye Olde English™, and Mrs. Carver’s™ fruitcakes; they hand produce under the Beatrice Bakery registered trademark, some All-Natural cakes and a line of dessert liqueur cakes. Plus, under the Grandma’s Bake Shoppe registered trademark, they make a line of artisan gourmet fruit and nut cakes. There are over 423 years of baking experience within this 40 employee bakery staff. This hands-on bakery has a history of making 1.2 million pounds of cake a year!
Beatrice Bakery Co. is FDA and State inspected, and the staff is very proud of the fact that they have received 25+ consecutive years of Superior ratings from the plant inspections by the American Institute of Baking. In August 2009, the Food Network’s Unwrapped production company contacted Beatrice Bakery Co. and asked to include Grandma’s Fruit Cakes in their December 2009 holiday program. ABC network’s - The View, followed by featuring Grandma’s Fruit Cake on their December 24, 2009, Holiday Cookies, Candies, and Cakes segment. Even in a downed economy, Beatrice Bakery Co.’s 2009 ended positively. Beatrice Bakery Company’s product lines can be found in grocery and retail stores, plus catalog and internet venues throughout the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico; and on military bases all over the world.