Thanksgiving wasn't just about pumpkin pie this year.
Coconut custard, sweet potato and apple pies, as well as dinner rolls, coffee cakes and specialty breads, were also good sellers, retailers told SN last week on the Monday after turkey day.
"We certainly did a lot with pumpkin pies, but there seems to be more call for sweet potato pies. At one time sweet potato pie was considered an ethnic item, but now it is such a good eating pie that everyone is picking up on it," said Chuck Chiodo, vice president of bakery at Certified Grocers Midwest, Hodgkins, Ill.
Stollen coffee cake, offered prebaked, packaged and labeled, was received well by Certified retailers and sold well at $4.99 to $5.99 for a 16-ounce cake, he said.
In the past when offered frozen for bake-off at store level, stollen has not been a big draw for retailers. This may indicate a need for more prebaked and prepackaged ready-to-sell baked goods, Chiodo said. "It was surprising how the retailers picked up on it. The stores didn't have to tie up oven time," he said. The 33 stores operating under the banner Ray's Food Place, Brookings, Ore., reported healthy sales of apple, mincemeat and pecan pies and dinner rolls, said Jim Schreiber, bakery-deli supervisor.
An expanded variety of fruit-filled coffee cakes, including apple, cherry, blueberry, pineapple and cream cheese, was also featured, reduced from about $2.39 to $1.89, he said. Last year only two varieties were featured. Sweet potato pie sold well at the stores operated by Food Circus Supermarkets, Middletown, N.J., said Bob Matteson, bakery supervisor.
Sales were helped by mass displays on tables set up in front of the bakery, beginning the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Matteson said. He said they continued to sell off the tables even after the holiday.
Farmer Jack Supermarkets, Detroit, a division of A&P, found that coconut custard pies had a good following for Thanksgiving, said Carl Richardson, vice president of Farmer Jack's Hearth Oven Bakeries.
At Rosauers Supermarkets, Spokane, Wash., butterflake rolls and bakery bread cubes for homemade dressing were big sellers, said George Jenkins, bakery, deli and restaurant buyer/merchandiser.
Sales were also strong for scratch-baked fruit cake, hot beverage mixes such as hot buttered rum mix, candy and peanut brittle, Jenkins said.
O'Malia Food Markets, Carmel, Ind., switched its promotional focus away from pumpkin pies toward dinner rolls and other items, said Ron Williams, director of bakery operations for the eight-unit independent.
"Last year we promoted pumpkin pie at two for $3. We did a fantastic job, but it was all based on price," he said. This year O'Malia charged $4 for two 8-inch pies and $6 for two 10-inch pies.
"We did not sell as many pies, but feel we made more money," he said. Customers preferred the 10-inch pumpkin pies for Thanksgiving, but the 8-inch pies are expected to be bigger for Christmas, Williams said.
New this year at O'Malia stores was a prepackaged holiday platter with slices of breads, such as date, pumpkin and banana, teamed with cookies, brownies or cream horn slices.
"We made them up ahead of time and put them out on display for impulse sales. A 12-inch platter was featured at $6.99," he said. Price wasn't the key factor this year, retailers said.
"As a general rule, consumers were going for quality," said Richardson of Farmer Jack.
Schreiber of Ray's said the stores raised their prices on pumpkin pies from last year's $1.99 to two for $5.