instore - January 2018 - 29

Insight Insider

Prairie City Bakery

Food Safety

Tamper-evident packaging

Insight Insider:

Prairie City Bakery
by Andy Nelson

F

or more than half of the 1990s, Bill
Skeens tried to get people to buy muffin tops. His fledgling company, Vernon Hills, Illinois-based Prairie City Bakery,
was the first national distributor of the product. The appeal seemed obvious to Skeens
and his partners - everyone knows the top

is the best part of the muffin, so why not just
sell that?
"Women got it more than men did," Skeens recollects. "Guys thought they were
getting cheated. 'Where's the rest of my
muffin?'"

R&D

Hot and spicy flavors

Then Prairie City got a boost - arguably
one of the all-time great boosts, at least in
the world of baked goods. And the company
didn't have to pay a time for it.
On May 8, 1997, an episode of "Seinfeld" aired
that made muffin tops instantly famous. In
the episode, Elaine tells her ex-boss that she
only eats the tops of muffins, and wouldn't
it be a great idea to open a store that sold
tops only? The boss steals the idea, opening
a business called Top of the Muffin to You!
Additional hilarity ensues. And the marketing gods smile down on Prairie City.
"What I had been trying to do for six years,
'Seinfeld' did overnight," Skeen says.
But not all - or even much - of Prairie
City's success the past two decades can
be attributed to good luck. The company
had the foresight to notice a big hole in the
baked-goods market - and they proceeded
to fill it.

C-store success

IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF C-STORE BAKERY PROGRAMS DRIVES PRAIRIE CITY BAKERY. PHOTOS: PRAIRIE CITY BAKERY

Fifteen to 20 years ago, Skeens says, c-stores
started upping their coffee games in order to
keep pace with the Starbucks of the world.
But they didn't make comparable improvements to their baked good offerings - and
consumers noticed. "People don't want a
Ding Dong with their gourmet cup of coffee," Skeens says. "That's where we fit in. We
realized that people would stop by for the cstore's gourmet coffee if the bakery was better." From that point on, Prairie City focused
on finding baked goods that can hold their
own against the best coffee.

instore * JANUARY 2018 * 29



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of instore - January 2018

instore - January 2018
Editor's Note - Another wild (and fun) ride
CONTENTS
News - Need to Know
Spotlight - By the numbers: Prepared entrees
Product Knowledge - CATEGORY UPDATE: Snacking cheese
Cover Story - Downtown treasure
Industry Perspective - Label limbo
Merchandising - ON DISPLAY: Grab ‘n Go Dips
Feature - Cleaning the instore label
Commissary Insider
Insight Insider: Prairie City Bakery
Food Safety: Tamper-evident packaging
Equipment: Sanitation strategies for ready-to-eat products
R&D: How hot should you go?
Product Category Spotlight: Breakfast sandwiches
Equipment & Packaging - LATEST INNOVATION: Rapid-cook ovens
Product Trends - FIRST TO MARKET
AD INDEX
instore - January 2018 - instore - January 2018
instore - January 2018 - instore - January 2018
instore - January 2018 - 2
instore - January 2018 - Editor's Note - Another wild (and fun) ride
instore - January 2018 - 4
instore - January 2018 - 5
instore - January 2018 - CONTENTS
instore - January 2018 - 7
instore - January 2018 - News - Need to Know
instore - January 2018 - 9
instore - January 2018 - Spotlight - By the numbers: Prepared entrees
instore - January 2018 - 11
instore - January 2018 - Product Knowledge - CATEGORY UPDATE: Snacking cheese
instore - January 2018 - 13
instore - January 2018 - Cover Story - Downtown treasure
instore - January 2018 - 15
instore - January 2018 - 16
instore - January 2018 - 17
instore - January 2018 - 18
instore - January 2018 - 19
instore - January 2018 - Industry Perspective - Label limbo
instore - January 2018 - 21
instore - January 2018 - 22
instore - January 2018 - 23
instore - January 2018 - Merchandising - ON DISPLAY: Grab ‘n Go Dips
instore - January 2018 - 25
instore - January 2018 - Feature - Cleaning the instore label
instore - January 2018 - 27
instore - January 2018 - 28
instore - January 2018 - Insight Insider: Prairie City Bakery
instore - January 2018 - 30
instore - January 2018 - 31
instore - January 2018 - 32
instore - January 2018 - 33
instore - January 2018 - Food Safety: Tamper-evident packaging
instore - January 2018 - Equipment: Sanitation strategies for ready-to-eat products
instore - January 2018 - R&D: How hot should you go?
instore - January 2018 - 37
instore - January 2018 - Product Category Spotlight: Breakfast sandwiches
instore - January 2018 - 39
instore - January 2018 - Equipment & Packaging - LATEST INNOVATION: Rapid-cook ovens
instore - January 2018 - Product Trends - FIRST TO MARKET
instore - January 2018 - AD INDEX
instore - January 2018 - 43
instore - January 2018 - 44
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