When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shut down restaurants across the country, Baker’s Quality’s business took a major hit. The company had no footprint in retail or the frozen pizza business; the majority of its business was bars and restaurants. While siblings Chris Miller, director of operations, and Anne Cookson, vice president of sales and marketing, described this turn of events as “terrifying,” they did find the silver lining.
“Crustology has always been on our minds, but we’ve always been so busy,” Mr. Miller said. “We never pursued it because do we really need another thing?”
Crustology is Baker’s Quality’s direct-to-consumer pizza crust brand. The company took its No. 1 product — a cracker crust — packaged it in a pack of three crusts and sold it directly to consumers online. With the help of a design intern, Baker’s Quality developed the brand name and design.
“We are very anti-red and green,” Mr. Miller said with a laugh. “We don’t want to look Italian because we’re not.”
The product launched on July 4, 2020, mainly supported with social media marketing, which neither Mr. Miller nor Mrs.Cookson had any experience. But their business slowdown gave them time to develop the product and learn how to sell to the consumer through a different medium. The brand was an experiment to see if the product had legs with consumers.
“In some ways, it’s similar to wholesale sales in that you just have to get them to eat it, but then it’s also totally different because you’re only selling three pizza crusts, and you’re trying to get it into people’s homes,” Mrs. Cookson said. “There’s a trust factor there, and people were holding so tightly to their money, we didn’t know what was going to happen.”
The pandemic ended up being perfect timing as the Crustology brand gave consumers a high-quality pizza crust brought directly to their doors that could elevate their mealtime and provide a fun activity with their family. With the proven product, Baker’s Quality has made a significant investment with a marketing firm as well as aggressive sales goals, even though its original restaurant business is bouncing back.
This article is an excerpt from the June 2021 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Baker's Quality Pizza Crusts, click here.