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Ode to the Supermarket Bakery

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For one mom, the supermarket is her Disneyland.

mom and son looking at bakery goods

Recession Mama: O supermarket bakery, how I love thee! Your gorgeous, big, New York-style bagels, six for $1.99, your glistening fruit tarts for under $10, and a cake shaped like a cheeseburger, just for fun ...

I remember when I was a kid, getting a cake from the supermarket bakery was kind of embarrassing. Like using coupons and getting a "doggie bag" in restaurants (which actually had a picture of a dog on it). My mom did all those things anyway -- and I'm none the worse for it. In fact, it made me appreciate the convenience and value of the supermarket bakery.

Some years ago, Albertson's grocery ran a set of commercials where a tearful bride described some horror of a wedding cake that had been delivered from a fancy bakery, and how Albertson's fixed it. Around that time, I noticed that the selection at the larger supermarket bakery counters was really great -- doughnuts, delicate pastries, chocolate-covered strawberries, and cakes of every size.

We have a really large summer party every year, and I need a cake for about 80 people. A few years back, the kids decided they wanted the cake to be completely covered in fruit. I went to a popular local bakery and explained that I would like a full sheet cake, completely covered in fruit. They told me it would be $150. I called around and got about the same price at other bakeries. While grocery shopping the next day, I spoke to the woman at the bakery counter, and she told me it would be just their regular charge for the full sheet ($49) -- no more for the fruit or extra labor. I had plenty of choices of cake, fillings, and frostings. On the big day, the cake looked and tasted fantastic -- and the number of comments we got were astounding. We've never looked back ...


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2 comments so far | Post a comment now
Jackie August 27, 2009, 9:50 PM

Don’t forget about the free cookies for kids! I don’t know if every grocery store does it but Publix does and it’s fantastic.

Shirley August 29, 2009, 5:55 PM

Coming from NJ, where we still have REAL bakeries in most every town, there is still a stigma attached to these supermarket bakeries. I think this article misses the whole point. For some things, it’s NOT about price or convenience. It’s about quality. In a real bakery, icings are not delivered pre-made in plastic buckets and flour and eggs, instead of industrial cake mixes are used. Things are made from scratch sometimes by the third or fourth generation owner of that bakery. Yes—it takes an extra trip to the bakery to order a cake…but I take my kids with me. Not only do they get a free cookie (and btw: every bakery gives the kids a free cookie…not only supermarket bakeries)…but my kids will be able to taste the difference.


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