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Hostess fills the air with sweet smells

Dispatch/Argus Photo By Nobuko Oyabu

The aroma of bread and baked goods from the ovens of the Hostess Bakery in Davenport brings a warm feeling to many Quad-Citians. Wonder Bread trucks are lined up outside the company to ship products to the Quad-Cities and other points.

DAVENPORT -- There is no doubt the aroma from bread and baked goods surrounds the Wonder Bread/Hostess Cake Bakery in Davenport.

However, if you think you're smelling Twinkies and cupcakes, you're sadly mistaken.

``Doughnuts are the best things we make here,'' human-resources manager Steve Bartholomew said.

Although creme-filled goods are not made at the Davenport bakery at 1034 E. River Drive, the business makes its fair share of baked goods.

Bread, bun and doughnut production lines run daily, supplying more than 5.4 million pounds of hamburger and hot-dog buns, Wonder bread and doughnuts and 2.5 million packages of Brown n' Serve rolls and raisin bread annually. The Davenport division supplies portions of Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota and the upper Midwest.

The bakery, along with Wonder's Waterloo, Iowa, plant, brings in sales of about $35 million.

The 71-year-old bakery got its start in 1927 as Continental Baking Co. In 1995 it was purchased by Interstate Brands Corp., the largest wholesale baker and distributor of baked goods in the country.

Today the 100,000-square-foot bakery employs 300 in the Quad-Cities area and 600 in eastern Iowa and western Illinois. The bakery's Waterloo plant employs 100.

The bakery is looking toward creating more thrift stores in the Quad-Cities area, Mr. Bartholomew said. With stores already in Davenport, Bettendorf, Rock Island and Moline, a second Davenport store is planned in a shopping center at Division Street and Kimberly Road. Those five stores will add to the 20 stores the company already has in a 200-mile radius.

Mr. Bartholomew said the thrift stores support the many supermarkets and other retail outlets in the area. By placing them in outlying areas, the stores serve as an alternative for Hostess products.

``We don't try to stick it to supermarkets by placing them next door,'' he said.

Mr. Bartholomew said many Davenport residents compliment him on the smell of fresh bread that comes from its ovens.

``I remember a call from one guy who used to pass the bakery on his way from work,'' Mr. Bartholomew said. ``He told us the smell was as good as getting his morning coffee.''

-- By Kristophere' Owens (February 9, 1998)

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