|Jud Bakery Supplies Kuchen
to ND Wal-Marts
Kjelland, Bob. "Jud Bakery Supplies Kuchen to ND Wal-Marts." Union Farmer,
April 2008, 10.
Kalmbach, owner of Mary's Bake Shoppe.
Wal-Marts are known for being packed with products
that are made by low-cost labor in China. North Dakotans
Wal-Mart shoppers can look forward to a taste of home,
thanks to Maryln Kalmbach and her two-oven bakery
Each week, Kalmbach makes from scratch and bakes
enough kuchen to supply the demand for the the dessert
pastry. “I bake on Mondays and Wednesdays. I
deliver on Tuesdays and Thursdays.” Kalmbach
bakes from 230 to 280 kuchens on average, during her
baking days. She delivers these pastries to the Wal-Mart
Supercenters in Fargo, Jamestown, Aberdeen, and two
in Bismarck. She also supplies Marketplace Foods in
Kuchen is the German word for cake. In reality (and
on the table), kuchen looks like a pie whose fillings
vary according to the seasons and overall demand.
Fruit fillings are the most popular, says Kalmbach.
Peach, blueberry, and apple lead in sales. Other fillings
are cherry, rhubarb, raspberry, prune, dry curd, and
chocolate chip. “I make pumpkin at Thanksgiving,"
she says. The fillings are supported by custard and
sweet dough, and topped with cinnamon. She makes her
own dough. All the ingredients come from products
grown or produced in North Dakota. “I have had
people leave messages saying ‘That's just like
Her kuchen baking skills come naturally. She remembers
the days her grandma used to visit her home when she
was growing up. “The minute you opened the door
you could smell kuchen and knoephle soup.”
She began by baking kuchen for family events. “It’s
all made from scratch; fresh, not frozen. No artificial
flavors or preservatives,” she says. She makes
each kuchen by hand using her aunt's recipe. “I
learned how to make kuchen from my aunt. But she changed
things and I’ve changed things,” she says
of the recipe. Regardless, the final mix sells because
it's good. So good that her husband Brad and others
encouraged her to bake kuchens for a statewide market.
She initially took kuchen samples to the Wal-Mart
in Fargo and asked to see the manager. As fate turned
out, the Wal-Mart food merchandiser was there as well.
They were impressed enough to consider stocking this
product in the coolers in the Wal-Mart food departments.
She says it took a year to get Wal-Mart to sign her
on as a supplier.
For this enterprising effort, Mary’s Bake Shoppe
was established in 2005 in Jud, a small community
about 20 miles south of Jamestown.
Sales are steady year-round, dropping off slightly
in January and February, and peaking in November and
December. “I just started out with a regular
oven. I could bake six, eight at a time.” Business
has grown in terms of sales and production. Two big
commercial ovens were purchased to meet demand. “I
can bake 60 at a time; however, I normally do 40 because
it is easier to manage.” Brad Kalmbach prepares
the product labels and maintains the company's Web
Kalmbach is a member of Pride of Dakota, a program
coordinated by the North Dakota Department of Agriculture.
Pride of Dakota assists North Dakota companies that
make products in North Dakota to develop advertising
and marketing programs. Kalmbach says the Pride of
Dakota program (www.prideofdakota.nd.gov)
has been of immense value in getting Mary’s
Bake Shoppe off to a successful start.
Sales have been good and “I could expand. Right
now I have about all I can handle,” she says.
For now, Kalmbach's sister, Paula, helps as her schedule
allows. Any additional increase in production will
require hiring someone to help in the kitchen. She
is open to baking for others who might want to embrace
the “Buy Fresh, Eat Local” concept promoted
by Farmers Union youth programs. Kalmbach also bakes
cheese cakes for weddings and other events.
“Without the encouragement of Brad and Paula
and others, I might not have had the courage to do