Inside the Flour Company Supplying America’s Sudden Baking Obsession


Ely and the other half-dozen or so hotline experts share an open office with the employees who take call-in orders from customers, and they, too, were getting a flood of odd calls. Namely, countless people were calling in to order as many as 10 of the company’s five-pound bags of flour at once. Who would need that much flour in their homes? “That was another data point that told us this wasn’t just the holiday build-up,” recalls Ely.

Ely and her colleagues didn’t know it, but across Carbohydrate Camelot — the name that employees gave the 14-acre headquarters campus in Norwich, Vermont, that contains a restored farmhouse and a handful of small buildings — co-CEO Karen Colberg was staring in shock at the recent daily sales figures that had just popped up on her screen. “I fired off a text to the sales team to check their figures,” says Colberg. “It was obviously some sort of mistake.”

No mistake, came the reply. The figures had already been double-checked. They showed a 600% increase in grocery-store sales almost literally overnight.

Within hours, a simple truth became clear. Flour was flying off grocery-store shelves, propelled by a sudden and seemingly insatiable demand that was carrying into King Arthur’s much smaller online business, too. It was as if half of America had decided all at once that they needed to bake. A lot.

Fascinating look at how the pandemic has impacted flour demand (we saw this firsthand locally as Mary struggled to find her usual baking staples) and how King Arthur Flour has responded. Mary has always baked a lot, but my oldest daughter has started baking a ton of interesting new stuff in the last month or so too. High carb comfort food may not be the healthiest thing if it dominates your diet, but I can think of a lot worse things for people to be turning to to find a little happiness given the upheaval we've been experiencing.