CHICAGO (March 28, 11:45 p.m. ET) — Flip through any cable television lineup, and you'll probably at least pass by a show or two about cakes, said David Starr, director of design and product development with Wilton Brands Inc. and its Copco brand.
There are competitions based on decorating wedding cakes, anniversary cakes, birthday cakes and cupcakes on multiple channels.
That exposure is bringing more attention to cake decorating, and encouraging more home bakers to expand their skills — which leads companies such as housewares stalwart Wilton, as well as newcomers, to introduce more products for the home cake-decorating market.
“People are bringing a certain level of interest and enthusiasm to what they're doing, and that drives a lot of what we do,” Starr said.
During this year's International Home + Housewares Show, held March 10-13 in Chicago, the company rolled out the purpose-built and -designed Decorator Preferred Tool Caddy, made with polypropylene, thermoplastic elastomer and ABS, replacing a box the company previously offered that was a “repurposed tackle box,” Starr said.
There are different trays to hold fondant knives, rollers and decorating tips. as well as dyes and gels.
“There's a lot to store and a lot of organization that wasn't happening,” he said.
Traci Chapple, a user-experience designer with Woodridge, Ill.-based Wilton, visited cooks in their homes to help create the new decorator's line. She points to the ethyl vinyl acetate film placed inside the soft-sided Decorator Preferred Carry-All Tote. The film stands up to grease and color stains and simply wipes out, she said.
The PP, ABS and TPE Ultimate Trim 'N Turn Caddy was created for decorators who wanted to be able to move their cakes during decorating, but keep them buttoned down during transportation, Starr said. A built-in turntable on top of a TPE base provides the movement, he said, but locks into place on the carrying case once the user is satisfied.
Wilton is far from the only company looking to home bakers for a new market, however. Gartner Specialty Products, based in Stillwater, Minn., made its name in paper and stationery products, but it teamed with chef Duff Goldman — whose Baltimore business, Charm City Cakes, was featured on The Food Network's Ace of Cakes.
“We look at it like it's scrapbooking for your cake,” said Jan Dornseif, a spokeswoman for Gartner. “We're seeing people who see something on TV and want to do it at home with their kids.”
Gartner's Duff Goldman line includes metal and plastic houseware items — including a fondant smoother and rolling pin, and some elements of a small airbrush decorating kit, all made by suppliers in China — as well as cake mixes and dyes made in the U.S.
There's no indication that interest in cake decorating is going to fade soon, which will lead to more tools and, Starr noted, more need for places to keep them.