If you’re decorating cakes or you’ve ever bought cake-making supplies, you’re probably familiar with the Wilton brand. It’s hard to miss their products because Wilton has led the sale of cake baking and decorating products for more than half a century. Headquartered in the Chicago suburb of Woodridge, Illinois, Wilton has grown rapidly since its inception as a family cake decorating business during the Great Depression of the United States.
Today, Wilton Industries sells over 2,000 different baking and food-related products, from instructions for use and cake pans to pastries and food coloring. Wilton products are not only sold in the United States. Major retailers in more than 150 countries produce Wilton products. And the business continues to grow with about 400 new consumer products being developed annually.
It all started in 1929 when Dewey McKinley Wilton, with the help of his wife, started a small cake decorating business in Chicago. This was followed by the fall of the stock market and the great depression of the nation. Surrounded by high unemployment rates and bread lines, Wilton carved a prosperous niche creating wedding cakes for famous hotels and clubs in Chicago. The Wilton family business grew during the 1930s.
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Decorating cakes for the rich and famous nicely boosted Wilton’s reputation. So when they opened a school of decorating cakes and making sweets for caterers and chefs, they had no problems enrolling.
By 1947, the “Wilton method” had become the household word among cake decorations, and the leading department store chain, JC Penney, now promoted and sold Wilton products.
Before the long name, the Wilton brand became synonymous with supplies and cake decorating schools. All of this public has laid the foundation for Wilton’s empire of decorating which continues to influence wedding cake trends.
Then in 1977, under the leadership of Wilton CEO Vince Naccarato, three different companies such as Wilton Industries merged: Wilton Enterprises, Copco and Weston Gallery.
Today, each division is a recognized leader in its market. Wilton Enterprises is the first place the brand prefers in products for baking and decorating cakes, Copco is a leading designer and seller of teapots and quality utensils, and the Weston Gallery is a leader in designing and marketing premium paintings and frames.
Under Naccarato’s continued leadership, the company enjoys strong sales growth and national distribution, largely attributed to “category management,” trend-based marketing, and “supply chain management,” which helps retailers reduce trading costs.
According to an Austin Chronicle report, the Wilton method was the undisputed ruler of cake decorating until the 1980s, when Martha Stewart’s methods gained popularity. Her cakes from scratch and the attitude that that flavor is just as important as the decorating prompted Wilton’s use of cake mixes and shortening vegetables.
However, Wilton continues to enjoy great success and lead the industry. According to Hoover’s November 2006 business report, Wilton Industries employed 650 people and reported sales of $ 325 million for fiscal 2005, up 7.8 percent from the previous year.
For three-quarters of a century, Wilton has been offering cake decorating classes across the United States and Canada, including the Wilton Cake Decorating School in northern Illinois. Wilton is partly credited with bringing an intricate, European method of decorating cakes to the United States and Canada.
In fact, nearly 200,000 students from all over the world enroll in Wilton’s cake decorations every year.
While many cake decorators enjoy the classroom experience in Wilton, others like the customer below, like to learn at home at their own pace with video instructions, such as the “Cake to Decorate a Cake Simply” series.
Another ingredient in Wilton’s recipe for success is the annual “Your Take on Cake” competition, which attracts thousands of talented cake decorators from the United States and Canada competing for $ 5,000 in cash and travel paid for at all costs to participate in the Wilton Two-Week School Course for decorating cakes in Darien, Illinois.