During the process of our storefront and office renovation last year we put a lot of files, cookbooks, miscellaneous office supplies, and bakery tools into storage. Now that we are through the holiday season I have a chance to empty out storage and go through all of these things exactly like Caroline would have, which is to say I absolutely must touch and read every single piece of paper that we put into storage.
My Mom was like many of yours, I'm sure, in that she never threw away anything. File folders are filled with post-it notes, tear outs from magazines, and endless amounts of scratch paper with multiple ideas intertwining with each other on both sides. There are carbon copies of order slips from the early days when we operated out of the basement as well as long outdated catalogs of fun retail items that we carried along the way.
One particularly sentimental folder I went through had a note from Mom with a summary of the history of Caroline's Cakes up to that point. I thought it would be fun for you all to read it, so I have copied it below. Enjoy!
"I am constantly asked how I started my business. My background is in design, but food has always been a major player in my life. Growing up in the South, life revolved around entertaining. My mother was constantly entertaining my father's customers and there seemed to be weekly cookouts on our terrace or dinners with friends. There were the 'Family Night Dinners' at the church when everyone contributed their best dishes. You always knew who brought the best Deviled Eggs, the best Fried Chicken and, of course, the best Cakes. Food brought us all together, in happy times and in sad. It was the core of our lives-the hospitality and the grace that we learned to share.
I first served the Caramel Cake eighteen years ago at my youngest son's christening. I served two Caramel Cakes from an old Southern family recipe for dessert and people started asking for more. I found someone near my childhood home to bake my cakes with our special recipe and we started shipping them up to the Washington Metro area four times a year-Christmas, Valentine's, Easter and Thanksgiving.
Well, the word got out and before long we were bringing 120 up at a time in the air-conditioned cab of one of my father's tractor trailers. I would meet them late afternoon at a preplanned spot off the Washington, D.C. Beltway. We would load the cakes into my car and everyone who knew the drill would arrive at my home to pick up their Cakes. The power of word-of-mouth spread this incredible tasty treat across the country and before I knew it I was shipping to every state in the union. WOW!!
My baker became ill and I almost stopped the business. But so many people kept calling to order my Caramel Cake that I started making the cake myself. It was a rough start. Caramel is so difficult to perfect. I can remember days it would take me 1 1/2 hours to get the icing to stay on the cake. I was so determined to make it work and through great perseverance I finally conquered and owned the process.
Now we are making cakes daily and shipping them to all parts of the country. Some of you have even taken them to Europe as gifts. We all shared so much through these last 18 years and the friendships have brought so much richness to my life. I have been told of Mothers, Grandmothers, Great Aunts and family cooks who have made Caramel Cakes similar to ours, and all those memories have flooded back. You, in turn, have shared them with me. Through this delicious Caramel Cake, I have shared in your family gatherings, weddings and family reunions. I have even been told on several occasions it was the only thing a loved one would eat the last days they were living. How privileged I feel to have shared so much with so many.
As we continue to 'make the world a smaller place' with the Caramel Cake, I hope you will check back soon and often to try our other food items and enjoy the unique gift items we will be offering. Thanks for your continuing interest and support these last 18 years.
Caroline Ragsdale Reutter"