King’s Bakery was the go-to place for all your fresh baking

All hail the King

It was once the largest independent bakery in the B.C. Interior, and during its sojourn in Vernon, it produced well in excess of one million loaves of bread.

King’s Bakery, at 4401 31st Ave., was a popular destination for the 1950s “housewife,” drawn in by the commitment to serving only the freshest of bread.

However, it was a different clientele King’s Bakery directed most of their advertising ventures towards - children.

King’s Bakery was a relatively small operation until it was taken over by Frank King and his business partner, Willie Schmidt, both Vernon Canadians hockey players, in 1957.

It grew from four to 17 employees, and used state-of-the-art, locally-sourced equipment to produce a daily output of 3,300 loaves, assorted pastries, doughnuts, cakes and cookies.

In fact, the bakery’s automatic doughnut machine could churn out 200 dozen doughnuts in just one hour. Just 14 months after taking over the business, Frank King produced his one-millionth loaf, which was presented alongside a $50 certificate to one lucky customer.

The business’ success was perhaps thanks in part to what was then a unique marketing strategy. Every month, the bakery sponsored a Saturday matinee at the Capitol Theatre.

Children were able to get in for free if they brought with them a red-and-blue dotted bread wrapper from the bakery. Similarly, a bread wrapper would allow youngsters to get into local hockey games for just 10 cents.

Even the business’ cheerful trademark “Winkie Bread,” accompanied by a smiling, winking mascot, was designed to appeal to children, who in turn encouraged their parents to frequent the local business. King’s Bakery has discovered for themselves a successful and community-minded marketing technique, even before large corporations like MacDonald’s adopted this approach.

Entrepreneur Frank King passed away in September of 2004.

Gwyn Evans is the community engagement co-ordinator with the Greater Vernon Museum and Archives.

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