A wedding cake is that rare culinary creation that customers remember for years to come. Naturally, bakers pour their hearts into every delicious detail, whether it’s a pattern of elaborate swirls or elegant, sugary flowers.
Then, of course, they have to transport their handiwork to the reception. That’s where things can get scary. Each unexpected stop or dip in the road has the potential to turn a masterpiece into mush.
Juli Chapin knows this as well as anyone. In the late 1980s, she started a bakery specializing in wedding cakes in the Northeast region of the United States, and she sympathizes with bakers who have to deal with this precarious transport situation. Traditionally, people like her would put each cake tier into a cardboard box and stack the tiers, one on top of the other, at the venue.
“It’s extremely nerve-racking and limits the designs you can create since the majority of the decoration needs to be applied to the stacked cake,” she says. “Bakers have even shut down their wedding cake businesses due to the high stress involved in transportation and the risk of being sued by a bride if something happens to the cake in delivery.”
An Invention Is Born
In Chapin’s case, it helped being married to an engineer who had a knack for solving tricky problems around the house. Upon hearing about her transit issues, her husband, Scott, came up with a clever solution: a rigid container with a stainless steel dowel that ran through the center of the cake to keep it nice and secure. Thanks to a double-walled exterior, it also protected the contents from rain, wind, and scorching summer heat.
For a long time, the couple simply saw it as a convenient solution to their own business problem. The results, however, were so good (in 20 years, Chapin never had a cake damaged on its way to a reception) that they started wondering if the contraption had a broader appeal.
In 2009, the Rhode Island couple started marketing the device to bakeries around the country as the “CakeSafe.” From the start, it was clear they had struck a chord with a lot of bakeries when showing off their invention.
Chapin recalls the early days, when Scott worked around the clock at their home to keep up with demand.
“He’d run his CNC table all night long making products for orders that needed to be shipped the next day,” she says. “He'd hear the machine stop, pause the movie he was watching, and go downstairs to set up the next run on the table.”
Despite the hard work, Chapin says it’s been satisfying to help people in the same situation she was once in.
“Bakers now deliver to mountaintop venues in the snow, down gravel roads with potholes, and on congested highways, all with no stress at all.”
One baker told the couple that she slammed on her brakes on the way to an event, causing her CakeSafe to flip over in the car. She expected to see a pile of crumbs inside but instead found the dessert perfectly intact.
“We've received many phone calls from bakers crying tears of joy because they were able to reopen their wedding cake businesses or grow their businesses because they no longer had any fear of delivery,” says Chapin, who eventually scaled back her own bakery to focus on CakeSafe.
Stevie Award Is Icing on the Cake
Since starting the business nearly a decade ago, Scott hasn’t stopped innovating. The company now offers CakeSafe in a variety of sizes; a safe for cupcakes; spray booths for airbrushing desserts; and a host of other baking implements.
“Scott genuinely loves inventing products to help bakers and to make their lives easier,” Chapin says of her husband, who recently won a Silver Stevie® Award for Product Developer of the Year in The 2018 American Business Awards® . “He never turns down a custom order and is constantly inventing new product lines.”
The company’s reputation within the industry belies its small staff, which only recently moved out of the Chapins’ home into a separate location.
“Whenever customers call the office and Scott or I pick up the phone, they tend to clam up,” she says. “They might say, ‘I never expected to get to talk to you. I'm talking to a celebrity!’ Little do they know, we are only a team of six.”
To this day, the company handcrafts all CakeSafe products, but it’s all a labor of love.
“All the employees have such a passion for their jobs,” she notes. “Scott is a big reason for that.”
It’s gratifying, Chapin notes, for her spouse—and the business he started—to get the extra attention.
“Scott is a brilliant and caring man who deserves to be recognized for his outstanding achievements in the bakery product field,” she says proudly. “Winning a Stevie further legitimizes the company so customers can rest assured their products are coming from a reputable source.”