My husband is an introvert, and during this pandemic, he’s probably yelling on the inside, “I was made for this!” Working from home and limited social interaction are like a dream come true for him. For me? Not so much. These days, I’d give anything to shake hands and talk shop at a tradeshow.

Don’t get me wrong … no one in their right mind is happy about the pandemic, not to mention all the tangential hardships that are emerging as a result. But in times of crisis, innovators are the ones who were truly made for it. 

At Custom Foods in De Soto, Kan., owner Joe Bisogno, ever the innovator, is rarely satisfied with the status quo. That’s how he started his bakery in the first place — to make bread for his Mr. Goodcents sandwich shops — and grew it into a highly diversified frozen dough business that serves foodservice, retail, school fundraising and more in markets across the country. 

His entrepreneurism along with President Ethan Hart’s passion for engineering efficiency and sales director Mike Hurt’s eye for opportunity have kept Custom Foods going strong despite the pandemic. 

When I visited with Mr. Hart, he shared stories of innovation not only from within the walls of the bakery but also from its customers and sister companies. 

Foodservice operators got creative with curbside pickup campaigns like Goodcents’ Stock the Fridge initiative, where consumers could pick up pantry staples along with their sandwich orders. And pizza restaurants were already well-positioned for the shift to curbside, some even adding their wine list to the takeout menu. (At my house, pizza, wine and movie night is the new Friday standard.) 

These days, it feels a bit like floating on a murky sea of the unknown, but innovation can be the light to guide us. The American Society of Baking’s weekly Coffee Breaks gives members a digital platform for 30-minute small group discussions on how to creatively overcome these new modern challenges. And in the third season of our podcast, Since Sliced Bread, Senior Editor Charlotte Atchley uncovers COVID-19 best practices from bakers, snack producers, retailers and associations who have supported their companies, customers and communities in some ingenious ways.  

Introverts were made for the quarantine life, and the innovators will get us through it. Which one are you? 

This editorial is from the August 2020 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire issue, click here.