Bud Cason was recently inducted into the Baking Hall of Fame.
Since its inception in 1991, Bud’s Best Cookies, Birmingham, AL, has pushed the limits on cookie technology. Back then, owner Bud Cason pioneered the mini-cookie market. “I thought, ‘if I would make bite-sized cookies, they wouldn’t have to be picked up and packaged by hand,” he recalled. “They could go automatically into a VFFS [vertical form/fill/seal] bagging machine and be cartoned. The first person who touched the product would be the person who opens the bag and takes cookies out.”

Throughout the years, automation spread from processing to packaging, where his company installed the latest in high-speed baggers, automatic case erectors and robotic pick-and-place systems. Most recently, Bud’s Best put in a sugar wafer line. Making traditional strawberry, vanilla and chocolate wafers is something he always wanted to do ever since seeing an automated production line at a European trade show in Germany in the late 1980s.

Using a little ingenuity, the bakery reinforced a section of the building to move paperboard and other storage materials to a mezzanine level and free up floor space. That allowed Mr. Cason to install the new Haas compact wafer line in what he called “a building within a building.”

Making sugar wafers is pretty simple. A Hobart 150-qt mixer combines flour, sugar, shortening and flavor. He compared making the thin wafers as similar to using a “glorified waffle maker.”

However, he’s learned two important things. “You have to keep the equipment clean,” he said. “It has to be spotless from one shift to another. And, you need to keep the room air-conditioned [around 60 to 65°F].”

Recently inducted into the Baking Hall of Fame, Mr. Cason described his lifelong journey in the cookie industry as just going in another direction. “I’m still learning about how to do things better,” he said.