Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

image Tasty Kake

Tasty Baking, 1922
2801 Hunting Park Avenue, Philadelphia PA

Harold E. Spaulding, Workshop of the World (Oliver Evans Press, 1990).

The Tasty Baking Company was formed in 1914 when Philip J. Bauer, a Pittsburgh baker, and Herbert C. Morris, a Boston egg salesman, conceived the idea of sanitary-wrapped cakes. Bauer supplied the recipe and baking skills, and Morris supplied the name Tasty Kake and sales ability. They each also supplied $25,000 in start-up capital.
The company set up its operations in Philadelphia, on Sedgely Avenue, near 24th Street, and their first sales were concentrated in Germantown. By the end of the first year, their profits were $300,000. Four years later, they introduced a radical sales scheme called “the controlled distribution plan,” which allowed customers to buy only what they could sell in a given amount of time, in order to avoid staleness problems. The program was a dramatic success and profits continued to climb. In 1922, they moved their operations to Hunting Park Avenue and within the next eight years had expanded their plant five-fold.

image Tasty Kake
In 1952, the company’s controlled distribution policies were liberalized when surveys done in stores showed that Tasty Kakes were generating extremely high profits per linear foot of selling space. In the 1960s, the company began to diversify its holdings and moved into graphic arts and other nonrelated fields. At present, food production provides only 50% of the company's income.

1  Paul R. Kaiser, "Tasty Kake—A Record of Quality,"  (Newcomen Society in North America, 1978), p. 11.
2  Tasty Baking Company Annual Report, 1988; also "Notice of Annual Meeting of Shareholders," April 21, 1989.

Update May 2007
(by Muriel Kirkpatrick):
In 1996 Tasty Baking bought a Keebler plant in Oxford, Pennsylvaina, and equipped it to produce yeast-raised baked goods. It expanded its products to include breakfast items like Danish and bear claws, packaging these items in bulk for corporate clients and institutions. The company planned to invest in its 500,000-square-foot plant on Hunting Park to boost capacity by 50 percent (Philadelphia Business Journal, September 11, 1998). Tasty Baking gave an option to a redeveloper on twelve acres of land at the Nicetown site, which did not include its baking facility, for the proposed Trump casino. The company earned money even though the Pennsylvania Gaming Board did not approve this as a gaming site, and plans for the sale were withdrawn. (Philadelphia Business Journal, December 29, 2006).

The eighty-five-year-old facility is inefficient, as raw materials need to be moved to the top of the six-story building, with operations continuing throughout the structure until finished products are removed at the ground floor. The company would like to build a facility that would be open to tour groups and prefers to stay in Philadelphia, where it has approximately 500 employees (Philadelphia Inquirer, February 23, 2007).

On May 9, 2007, Tasty Baking Co. announced it would move by 2009 into five new buildings to be constructed at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Corporate headquarters will be near the entrance on South Broad Street. The new 350,000-square-foot bakery will be on 25 acres near the 26nd Street entrance and what was the former navy brig. The new production operations will reduce the number of lines from 15 to 7, resulting in the loss of 215 jobs.

See also:

Tasty Kake - corporate website