NOV
27

Annual Gingerbread House Decorating & Seasonal Sampling

Annual Gingerbread House Decorating & Seasonal Sampling

One of our favorite holiday traditions continues! Join us for seasonal family fun during our annual Gingerbread House Decorating event on Saturday, December 9th, from 11am-4pm, at all Sunset locations. 

$15 gets you a prebuilt gingerbread house and all the gumdrops, candy canes, frosting, and other goodies you’ll need to decorate the gingerbread house of your dreams. Take it home, give it as a gift, or enjoy it yourself.

Space is limited, so please sign up with the customer service desk (either in-person or over the phone) of your favorite Sunset store.

This is event isn’t just for the little ones. Moms and Dads: we’re bringing you tasty inspiration for your holiday menu. Sample holiday items from our favorite vendors throughout the store. See you there! 

Gingerbread event info

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OCT
10

Fall Fun: Apple Dipping & Pumpkin Carving at Sunset’s Bakery

Nothing says fall like dipped apples and carved pumpkins. Join us in the Bakery department of your local Sunset for some fall fun—without any of the clean up!

Show off your craftsmanship and carve your very own pumpkin for $5. You bring the creativity, we’ll provide the pumpkins, tools, and Halloween spirit. Pumpkin carving is from 10am-3pm on Saturday, 10/21.

Nothing beats a freshly dipped caramel apple. Swing by our Bakery and decorate with your choice of yummy toppings. Apple dipping is from 11am-2pm on Saturday, 10/21.

These sweet seaonal events will take place at all Sunset locations. All ages are welcome! 

Apple dipping pumpkin carving event poster

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2021 Hits
JUL
13

Sunset Bakery Perseveres in the Face of Global Vanilla Shortage

Madagascar grows about 80% of the global supply of vanilla beans. In March 2017, Madagascar was hit by the worst tropical cyclone in 13 years. The storm damaged about 30% of the vanilla crop, further shrinking the supply of already scarce vanilla beans. As a result, the 2017 Madagascar vanilla crop was the most expensive crop in decades. Five years ago, prices for vanilla beans were hovering around $20 a kilograms. Industry sources now report prices above $200 a kilogram.

Green vanilla beans

Although farmers in countries other than Madagascar are considering growing more vanilla beans, prices may get worse before they get better. It takes four years to develop a commercial crop after planting vanilla beans.

And growing vanilla isn’t easy. In fact, it’s one of the most labor-intensive foods on earth. Vanilla beans are the seeds of an orchid. Madagascar doesn’t have the certain kind of bee that pollinates the vanilla flower (vanilla is originally from Mexico, and so are its pollinating bees). Instead, pollination must be done by hand. What’s more, the flowers that produce the bean pod open for less than a day each year. If no one pollinates the plant during this narrow window of time, that means no vanilla. If that’s not enough, after the seeds are harvested, each one must be soaked in hot water, then wrapped in wool blankets, then bundled and placed in a wooden box to “cure”, then laid out to dry in the sun. The whole process takes months.

Vanilla beans drying in the sunUnfortunately, when vanilla prices are high, farmers are tempted to cut corners and sacrifice quality. For example, farmers may pick the beans before they’re mature—and before the flavor compounds have fully developed. Farmers may also bring their beans to market before they’ve been fully cured—a process that should take about 2 months—resulting in poorer quality beans.

Food companies also tend to cut corners when vanilla prices are high. For example, some companies opt for a synthetic—and much cheaper—type of vanilla called vanillin. Not Sunset. Brooke Edwards, our bakery director, refuses to settle for anything less than the real deal.

Neilsen-Massey vanilla Vanilla goes into just about everything made in Sunset’s bakeries. Brooke orders our vanilla exclusively from Nielsen-Massey. Nielsen-Massey still makes vanilla the traditional way—from beans, not from a lab. Because of the vanilla shortage, Nielsen-Massey isn’t taking orders from any new customers at the moment, so we’re lucky to have the relationship with them that we do.

While you may see increases in price for your favorite vanilla ice cream or café lattes, you won’t see price increases in Sunset’s bakeries. Instead, we’re buying smaller quantities of vanilla at a time, and we’re taking especially great care to not waste a drop. We’re not skimping on the vanilla either. While some food companies are modifying their recipes to use less vanilla, there’s just as much of the good stuff in our baked goods as ever. 

 

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