Sticky business: Selling British puddings to Americans

Tracy Claros

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Tracy’s sticky toffee pudding is actually based on her mother’s recipe

As celebrity-backed reviews go, pudding-maker Tracy Claros got a pretty Great one.

A UK expat in Texas who was trying to introduce Americans to the joys of traditional British desserts, in 2008 her sticky toffee pudding was rather enthusiastically reviewed by Oprah Winfrey’s magazine, O.

The favorite publication gushingly described the mixture of sponge, chopped dates in addition to toffee sauce as “the sexist English creation since [actor] Colin Firth”.

Unsurprisingly, Tracy’s Sticky Toffee Pudding Company saw a rise in sales via its website, in addition to at its main stockist, upmarket US supermarket chain Whole Foods Market.

Not bad for puddings in which Tracy had commenced selling four years earlier on a foldout table at a farmers’ market in Austin, Texas.

right now in her early 50s, Tracy had moved to Texas coming from England in 2003 for a country in addition to career change.

Today her business has annual revenues of $4m (£3m), in addition to various other stockists right now include Costco in addition to Wal-Mart.

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Colin Firth: is actually This specific man sexier than a sticky toffee pudding?

Before emigrating to the US, Tracy had spent the previous seven years working as a speech therapist in a British hospital.

although wishing to do something else with her life, in addition to a keen baker since she was a child, she decided in which she would certainly risk starting a business focused on sticky toffee puddings.

Inspired by the renewed popularity of the dish inside UK at the time, although considering the British market to be saturated, she was hopeful in which she could win over Americans.

Able to live in addition to work inside US thanks to gaining the required green card during an earlier period inside States, in 2004 she launched her Sticky Toffee Pudding Company coming from a basement in Austin.

She would certainly turn up at Texas farmers’ markets with sticky toffee puddings based on her mother’s recipe, in addition to various other homemade British desserts such as lemon pudding in addition to hot chocolate fudge cake.

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The company’s puddings are right now stocked by Whole Food Market, Wal-Mart in addition to Costco

Immediately she realised in which she had a food language barrier to overcome – inside US the word “pudding” incorporates a different meaning than inside UK.

While inside UK a pudding means both anything you have for dessert, or specifically a hot dish in which is actually baked or steamed, inside US the item is actually associated just with cold custards in addition to mousses.

So Tracy had to explain to customer after customer exactly what a sticky toffee pudding was, in addition to the need to warm the item before you eat the item. Thankfully, she has an evangelical enthusiasm for the pudding.

“the item’s so delicious, there’s something very special, almost magical about them,” she says.

“We still get emails all the time coming from Americans who have tried the item for once, in addition to say the item is actually the best thing they have ever eaten.”

As sales grew at the outdoor markets through positive world of mouth, Tracy then commenced to approach US retailers with the trust of getting them to stock the sticky toffee puddings in addition to various other products.

This specific brought the next hurdle she had to overcome – most US food stores did not provide refrigerated space for chilled deserts like hers, just freezer sections.

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Tracy right now sells a range of different dessert items

After a lot of persistent persuasion, Tracy was able to get retailers to give her products some space in their chilled aisles.

in addition to with the likes of Whole Foods Market on board, her sticky toffee pudding came to the attention of the team at Oprah Winfrey’s magazine. Tracy’s desserts also commenced to win national US awards, giving them further publicity.

With no outside investors, Tracy says she takes pride in running the business as efficiently as possible.

She only recently finally swapped her basement for an office in downtown Austin, in addition to has just one directly employed office worker – her 25-year-old son James who looks after online sales.


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Tracy, who originates coming from England’s Lake District, does all the various other admin work herself.

“the item became almost a personal challenge,” she says. “How much could I grow sales with the minimum number of people.”

She says in which the global financial crisis, in addition to seeing so many various other companies fail, helped to make her cautious.

“I came into This specific not understanding business, although after the 2008 financial crisis the item made me think of needing to be careful in addition to frugal.”

Production of the company’s puddings in addition to various other products is actually right now contracted out to a bakery in Chicago in which incorporates a workforce of 20. Tracy says she is actually pleased in which all these workers are paid the living wage in addition to receive health insurance.

The bakery right now makes more than one million desserts a year for the Sticky Toffee Pudding Company. Tracy says she speaks almost daily to staff at the facility, in addition to visits four times a year.

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the item’s world domination ‘one sticky toffee pudding at a time’, says Tracy

In 2015 sales at the company further took off – in This specific case, literally – when the item won contracts to supply the first class cabins of British Airways’ fleet. Fellow UK carrier Virgin Airways then followed suit for its business class customers. Tracy says she is actually proud of This specific connection to “the motherland”.

Ron Tanner, vice president of the fresh York-based Speciality Food Association, a not-for-profit trade organisation in which represents artisan food producers, says in which Tracy in addition to her company stand out coming from the crowd.

“In This specific industry the stories behind products resonate, in addition to Tracy incorporates a great one behind hers – a British woman who came to Texas to make sticky toffee puddings.

“Also, shoppers like authenticity, in addition to with lots of stories out there the item’s important to have a real person behind the item, in addition to in which’s what you get with Tracy.”

Back in her fresh office in Austin, while Tracy isn’t planning on increasing the number of her office staff anytime soon, she has big ambitions for the company.

“I want to keep the item simple, without lots of departments in addition to meetings, so I can plan in addition to execute quickly,” she says.

“World domination, one sticky toffee pudding at a time.”

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