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Tastier times ahead

Tasty Baking Co. sweetens up the Navy Yard by opening what will become the world's greenest bakery.

By Joseph Myers
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 2 | Posted May. 13, 2010

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Kirbee the Krimpet struts his buttery stuff before eager onlookers at the grand opening of the 345,000-square-foot Tasty Baking Co. facility at the Navy Yard.

Photo by Natalie Kellem

South Philadelphia has become a little sweeter, thanks to Charles P. Pizzi, the president and chief executive officer of Tasty Baking Co. May 4 marked the official grand opening of the company’s 345,000-square-foot facility 4. Pizzi brought products that have reigned as area staples since the company debuted in 1914 to the Philadelphia Navy Yard. His ingenuity also will allow South Philadelphia to become a key location in an environmental revolution.

The new bakery replaces the company’s six-story Hunting Park factory in the Allegheny West section of North Philadelphia. This new venture allows Tastykake to join a host of other companies poised to “green” the Navy Yard’s 1,200 acres. The South Philly location, a one-story building occupying 25 acres, includes seven baking lines, five of which were operational on opening day. Two lines will prepare cupcakes, with one each for cookie bars, Juniors and Kreamies, Kandy Kakes, Krimpets and pies. The number of lines is down from the 15 that highlighted Hunting Park’s operations, but nobody, especially Pizzi, expects the newcomer to struggle.

“As a company, we believe we are well-prepared and poised to seize the moment and build upon the momentum of this successful project,” he said in a press release.

Tastykake, the brand name for a line of snack foods that the company issues, has consistently generated annual gross sales of $280 million. With $72 million in gross sales in the first quarter of 2010, Tasty Baking Co. will likely continue to cement its place among America’s most influential baking companies. In March, Baking & Snack and Milling & Baking News magazines honored the company as its ’10 Baker of the Year, supporting Pizzi’s claim on the day of the unveiling that his company is “always competing to be the best.”

 

Pizzi’s vision matches that of Mayor Michael Nutter. Upon his election, Nutter stated his desire to transform Philadelphia into America’s greenest city. At the outdoor opening, complete with political dignitaries, company executives and a giant walking Krimpet donning a baker’s hat and apron, Pizzi presented what he believes will soon win distinction as the world’s greenest bakery.

The ceremony began with a Model T delivery truck leading Tastykake trucks to the facility from the North Philadelphia site and members of Girard College’s choir singing the company jingle, “Nobody bakes a cake as tasty as a Tastykake.”

The site will employ more than 300 and is waiting for confirmation on its “green” status from the U.S. Green Building Council. That confirmation will be another sweet delight for Pizzi. Guiding the company since ’02, he crafted plans in ’07 to move its headquarter offices and main bakery to the Navy Yard. Those plans enthused the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, which acquired the Navy Yard in March ’00.

The building has received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) Certification and has housed the company’s headquarters since April ’09. Its “green” status derives from its use of energy-efficient heating and cooling, reliance on recycled building materials and insistence on water conservation. Pennsylvania’s program for subsidizing solar energy, which seeks to promote the generation and use of solar energy, will allow the company to install a bank of solar panels on the top of the baking plant. These panels will meet a percentage of the company’s energy needs when operational.

Philadelphians, however, are likely to associate Tastykake not with green but with orange and black, the color of the Philadelphia Flyers, and red, the color of the Philadelphia Phillies. Tasty Baking Co. has sponsored both teams for decades. The company awards a case of Tastykakes to each Flyer who scores, with that player donating the case to the charity of his choice. Late Phillies’ broadcaster Harry Kalas would always tell listeners when a fresh case of Tastykakes made its way into his booth.

Dave Montgomery, the Phillies’ president and chief executive officer, attended the opening as did state Sen. Larry Farnese, a diehard Phillies’ and Tastykakes’ fan, who recalled his childhood, when he traded Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes to acquire Mike Schmidt’s and Larry Bowa’s baseball cards.

“The only way to get those cards was to trade for them. I did what I had to do,” he said.

Courtesy of the new location, it is evident that Philadelphia sports and Tastykakes will remain sweet on each other.

“This means that Tasty Baking Co., which has been a Philadelphia institution for almost 100 years, will remain in Philadelphia,” City Council President Anna Verna said.

“We’re happy to be within eye shot of the stadiums,” Pizzi said. “When looking for our next location, there was only one place for Tastykake to be. This is a wonderful location.”

Like Farnese’s childhood, U.S. Rep. Robert Brady’s featured Tastykakes. The treats “were always part of my school lunch,” he said. “They are a Philly tradition, and this move will ensure that 350 Tastykake employees will keep their jobs.” With more than 100 products, including the ubiquitous Butterscotch Krimpets and the Peanut Butter Kandy Kakes, the company is determined to make Philadelphia not only America’s greenest city but also its sweetest.

“The Liberty Bell belongs in Philadelphia, and so does Tastykake,” Pizzi said.

Contact Staff Writer Joseph Myers at jmyers@southphillyreview.com or ext. 124.

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1. Anonymous said... on May 13, 2010 at 06:34PM

“TastyKake has been my number 1 and is the number cakes and pies in the hole wide world. I am very happy to see a new factory at the Navy yard and very happy for TastyKake, now keep on rolling p.s what about JOBS”

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2. Anonymous said... on Jan 13, 2011 at 03:55PM

“Update... January 2011.

Mounting costs and debt from this enormously expensive "green" bakery bring Tastykake's future into doubt. Bankruptcy, sale or liquidation likely.

Another green success.”

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