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When you’re celebrating an important event like a wedding, a milestone birthday or anniversary, you’ll probably have a special cake. Publix’s history is filled with stories about special cakes made for important events. One of my favorites is a story from the 1950s about a 5,000-lb. anniversary cake, and another favorite is from Publix’s 88th anniversary in 2018.

Dixieland’s Fourth Anniversary

In 1952, the Dixieland community in Lakeland, Florida, invited the whole town to their fourth anniversary celebration. Publix founder, George Jenkins, decided that this grand event needed a gand cake, so plans began for the creation of a four-foot tall confectionary work of art. 12_Post1_JBHistory_Cakes_image1

Individual sections of cake were baked at a local shop called Lundy’s Bakery because in the early 1950s, Publix Bakery departments didn’t yet exist. The cake sections were then transported to a Publix warehouse where a team assembled the four tiers. Cake decorators had the task of piping yards of frosting and decorating the 16 palm trees and 16 citrus trees that lined each tier. It weighed 5,000 lbs. and had to be transported on a trailer like a float in a parade!

People filled the street for the celebration, and even the Florida Citrus Queen was on hand for the event. The giant cake must have been a sight to behold!

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Publix’s 88th Anniversary

I recently got the chance to be part of a historic celebration that showcased not one, but two spectacular cakes. On September 6, 2018, Publix’s 88th anniversary, a historical marker was unveiled at the site of the very first Publix in Winter Haven, Florida. Local dignitaries, community leaders and even the media came out for the ceremony. After I shared some history of the building and how Publix began, the marker was unveiled to the crowd’s delight, and everyone was invited to go inside and enjoy cake.

Now I’ve seen some beautiful Publix cakes, but these were truly unbelievable. One cake was designed as a replica of the first Publix Food Store, complete with windows, doors and street lights. Peering into the tiny windows, you could see baskets of food, produce boxes, pictures on the wall and Mr. George’s green jacket. Consisting of four full sheet cakes, fondant, frosting and colored sugar, it was almost entirely edible.

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The second cake was a life-size grocery bag with bread, bananas, carrots and apples peeking out from the top. The “grocery bag” was made of Rice Krispies, fondant and buttercream icing. The whole cake, including the ‘cellophane’ bag with carrots was edible. And to top it all off, the grocery bag was on a revolving base, so it rotated around on top of the decorated sheet cake. These cakes were almost too spectacular to eat!

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Making These Cakes

These works of art were the result of a team effort by Publix Bakery Manager Brittany Lavallee and Bakery Retail Improvement Specialists Don Lovering and Chris Moore. I talked to Brittany to find out how they created the confectionary masterpieces.

Brittany said the first step was to sketch out the ideas. Since the event celebrated the first Publix, what better design than the original 1930 store. The idea for the full-size grocery bag also seemed like the perfect design to represent Publix. The next step was to create 3D cardboard models to see how everything would look. Making the cakes and all the edible pieces took 12 hours, and it took another 12 hours to put it together.

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Brittany said, “I’ve created quite a few other unique cakes, but this one was the most meaningful because it represents our Publix history, and I love perpetuating our culture.”

It was clear to me that the most important ingredient in these — and every Publix cake — is the love that goes into them.

A cake doesn’t have to be larger than life to be make your event perfect. If you have a story about a special Publix cake, we’d love to hear from you.

Jennifer B.

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Jennifer B. has been with Publix since 1980, when she started working part time in high school. She has held positions of Assistant Director of public relations and Director of media relations, but her current role as the Company Historian is the highlight of her career. She loves sharing Publix trivia, telling stories about Mr. George and solving Publix’s history mysteries. In her life outside of Publix, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her husband and catering to the whims of their cat Jackson, who is master of all he surveys.

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