My job can come with some cool benefits. I get to visit interesting and sometimes faraway places. I experience firsthand some of the most cutting-edge baking tools and technology. I earn “cool mom” points when my son’s friends take a treat out of their lunchbox, and he can tell them, “My mom knows how they make that.” Once I even got a cheesecake in the mail!
One unexpected perk of this job — and one that I always tell new employees — is that it has changed me as a consumer. The more I learn, the more I pay attention to the foods I buy, and the more I observe how those around me consume their own foods. Once I heard someone say, “Oh I am totally gluten-free now! Well, except for the shortbread cookies I ate for lunch today…” In those situations, I just sort of smile and nod; I figure some people just can’t be helped.
Some consumers blindly follow the blogger du jour; some embark on a journey. Me, I eat as many samples as I can in the name of research.
But then I have friends like my neighbor, whose son has food allergies so severe that eating in restaurants is out of the question. And I have another friend down the street who was diagnosed with celiac disease a year ago. I listen to these women’s stories and keep them in mind the more I understand about consumer trends, product development and bakery and snack food operations.
When I visited Canyon Bakehouse in Johnstown, Colo., I met co-founders Josh and Christi Skow, and I learned about their journey that started with Ms. Skow’s own celiac diagnosis. One of the first things they realized upon hearing the news was that they were a family of bread lovers. And something she loved was taken away. Her love of bread and his entrepreneurial spirit became the genesis of Canyon Bakehouse, which produces gluten-free products including bread, buns, bagels and more.
As I listened to the Skows’ story and toured the new 165,000-square-foot facility, I thought of my neighborhood friends, and the company’s motto “Love bread again” hit home for me.
Mr. Skow sent me home with some bread and bagels to eat and share, and I experienced an all-new unexpected perk … I got to be the hero on Bond Street. Next door, Rowena scoured the label of cinnamon raisin bread and proclaimed, “Drew can eat this!” Six houses down, Katie tore into her bag and squealed, “I’ve missed bagels so much!”
This, my friends, is why bakers do what they do. They feed people. Canyon Bakehouse was created to serve a need, not capitalize on a trend. Some people question whether gluten-free has staying power. But as long as there are people who love — and miss — bread, Canyon will keep on baking. And, as Mr. Skow said when I visited, the company doesn’t make a knockoff of bread … “It is bread,” he said.
Enjoy the trip through Canyon’s new facility, and keep an eye out for exclusive video interviews with the Skows coming soon on Bakingbusiness.com.