Over the years, the annual convention by the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (I.D.D.B.A.) has featured the biggest of the big when it comes to speakers, including former presidents from both political parties, previous secretaries of states, and some of the nation’s A-list of comedians, foodies, political pundits and industry experts. But the event was never complete until Carol Christison, I.D.D.B.A.’s president and chief executive officer, walked out on the stage, white sneakers and all, making her annual astute observations about consumer attitudes, buying patterns and the mini- and mega-trends reshaping in-store bakeries and the wholesalers that supply them.
On stage and off, she had so much energy, enthusiasm and the most wickedly wonderful sense of self-deprecating humor. Who else can joke about craving a cigarette after reading “Fifty Shades of Gray,” leaving her audience in stitches?
In many ways, Carol, I.D.D.B.A. and the in-store bakery channel grew up together. Since joining the organization in 1982, she transformed the association into the top-tier group as in-store bakeries went from a nascent outlet for baked goods to an industry with nearly $13 billion in annual sales and a fixture in everyday consumers’ lives. While Carol made I.D.D.B.A. one of the premier organizations in the baking industry, she always had time for those who were new to the business. Often, people note that they would shake her hand upon meeting her and feel they were her friend 20 minutes later.
We’ll miss Carol. She leaves a legacy. Yes, she stood in the wake of some of the most popular and powerful people in the world, but in the end, the lady in her signature white sneakers calmly and confidently held her own.