How and why Bubba's HomeBaked was started.
A brief history.
In 1983, John and LouAnn Welsh - the founders - were at a very low point. John's mother, Grace (or "Bubba" as the grandchildren affectionately called her), had passed away earlier that year. Later that year John was laid off and doing the odd jobs he could find to support his family. The Thanksgiving/Christmas season proved to be especially hard both financially and emotionally. Not only was it difficult to provide Christmas gifts for three children under 10, but it was the first set of holidays without dear Bubba ...or her holiday baking.
Not surprisingly, nobody had ever given much thought to how much of a tradition and how special Bubba's nut and poppyseed rolls were until they were missing. It simply didn't feel like a holiday without them. After trying many commercial bakeries' attempts, John and LouAnn could not find rolls to equal Bubba's. They soon realized that they would have to bake their own - but no one could find a copy of Bubba's recipe! Fortunately, the collective memory of John and his brothers gave him a sense of the basics. After many weeks of shelling and grinding walnuts, mixing and rolling batches of dough, and baking in LouAnn's kitchen, they knew they had figured out the recipe - the creamy-sweet, nutty taste and soft dough that melted in your mouth was unforgettable.
|Founders John and LouAnn|
John and LouAnn gave the rolls as gifts to close family and friends - all of whom confirmed that the rolls tasted wonderful! Requests for and encouragement about the "Bubba Rolls"� - not to mention a looming mortgage and mouths needing fed - spurred John to entertain the idea that he might be able to market Bubba Rolls� commercially. Not only would it enable him to provide an income for his family but he could also share with the world the cherished baking that had enriched his life.
With some seed money from his widowered father, Larry (better known to the family as "Jedo"), John remodeled much of the lower level of his home into a bakery production facility that is inspected and licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. He was also able to obtain some good used equipment. In the meantime, he researched his supply chain knowing that he could not make rolls that met Bubba's standards without obtaining the finest ingredients. It was also during this time that a suitable, kosher apricot filling was agreed upon after many, many tastings. Bubba's HomeBaked was established in early 1984 as a wholesale nutroll supplier. Easter of that year was the first holiday season that Bubba Rolls� were commercially available.
|Bubba and Jedo|
The business remains a family-owned, cottage industry run by John and John Jr., his oldest son. The production and offices still reside in the lower level of John's home, but additional space has been built or rented as necessary to accommodate the growth. Many things have changed since 1984, but the important things are the same.
To assure the best, most authentic taste we can achieve, our baking process is still very traditional and our commitment to homebaked quality has never wavered. In other words, it still takes a lot of hands-on labor and we do not add preservatives, conditioners, or other chemical additives to make "mass production" any easier. Believe it or not, we still use many of the same original pieces of equipment (of course, they've needed servicing over the years!). We also have some newer, but still rather simple pieces of equipment - mostly just big versions of the things in your own kitchen.
Interestingly, not long after the recipe had been determined, the family was going through some old stuff at Bubba's house and someone came across her nutroll recipe! As it turned out, John's recipe had been oh-so-close but had missed a tiny little something. After testing a batch with the slight modification, the recipe was amended to include the "tiny little something" that makes our Bubba Rolls� really special.
All these years and hundreds of thousands of rolls later, our entire family still enjoys Bubba Rolls�. Of course we have them at the holidays and other special occasions (graduations, weddings, etc.) but we've found that they are great any time: when company is over, for breakfast with coffee or tea, or after dinner for dessert! You simply don't tire of real quality and full-filling taste - not to mention that they wouldn't be a tradition if they didn't stand to test of time!
We believe that Bubba Rolls� embody the essence of what great traditions are all about: devotion and sacrifice rolled up in love. We take great pride in making authentic rolls that our Bubba would have been proud to serve her family (us!). We guarantee that you'll like Bubba Rolls� enough that you'll love sharing them with your family and friends!
* "Bubba" is the grandchildren's Americanized spelling of Baba, which is Serbian for grandmother.
** "Jedo" is the grandchildren's Americanized spelling of Dzedo, which is Serbian for grandfather.