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How Kodiak Cakes Started As A Homemade Mix

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Written by Joel Clark, CEO & Co-Founder Kodiak Cakes

I grew up in a home where most of what we ate was homemade. My mom often talked about the importance of eating “real, whole food.”  We seldom found treats or candy, soda, chips, and sugary cereal in our pantry. However, while we didn’t have much sugar around the house, we did eat a lot of good food. One of my favorite meals was my mom’s homemade, whole wheat pancakes.

I still remember waking up to the smell of homemade pancakes on a Saturday morning and racing to the kitchen for a tasty breakfast. There were even days I would wake up early to watch as my mom crafted her famous recipe from scratch. She ground the wheat in her wheat grinder to make flour. She’d beat the egg whites in her Kitchen Aid mixer until they turned white and fluffy before folding them into the batter with a wooden spoon. It’s little details like these that made me look forward to Saturday mornings.

My mom thought about creating a mix out of her pancake recipe for a while. So, one day in 1982, she put together some homemade pancake mixes using brown paper lunch sacks. She even hand-wrote directions to make her pancakes on the bags. We placed them in our red wagon, and I wheeled them around our Salt Lake City neighborhood where I sold every single mix — we even had some reorders.

We didn’t continue to pursue our little pancake business at that time. But, in the mid-‘90s, my older brother Jon decided to start a business, and Mom suggested he do it with her pancake recipe. Jon spent much of 1994 and 1995 working on the creation of Kodiak Cakes and the brand’s first product — our Whole Wheat Oat & Honey Frontier Flapjack and Waffle Mix. In November of 1995, he was ready to start selling the mix and asked me if I would help. We didn’t know anything about food product sales, so we started selling to gift shops in Salt Lake City, UT, and small mountain towns like Park City, Sun Valley, and Jackson Hole. We drummed up about 50 gift shops before I went back to school while Jon continued running his pancake business.

After a couple of years, I took over the pancake business so my brother could go to graduate school. Little by little, Kodiak Cakes started to grow and became my full-time job in 2004. Building a small business from scratch has been incredibly hard, but also incredibly rewarding. The most rewarding part has been the awesome people I have been fortunate to work with, who have worked so hard to make Kodiak Cakes the success it is today. Another amazing benefit to having spent my career at Kodiak Cakes is that I have eaten more pancakes than I could have ever dreamed of!

My family and I still eat pancakes about three or four times per week, and we never grow tired of them! I love Kodiak Cakes; I genuinely do. At home, I like to change things up a little and do different things with the mix. For example, I’ll add lots of eggs and milk to make crepes or add banana, vanilla, and cinnamon. But my favorite thing to do right now is to make Overnight Sourdough Flapjacks. I’ll add yeast and let the batter sit all night. It turns into a bubbly batter that makes the most amazing pancakes with an awesome sourdough flavor.

*Pro-tip: Any flavor of Kodiak Cakes Flapjack & Waffle Mix works great in this recipe. So, don’t hesitate to branch out and use something other than Buttermilk Power Cakes.

To learn more about Joel’s story and how Kodiak Cakes got started, check us out on How I Built This with Guy Raz.

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