March 7, 2022
Project #19 in our Centennial Year Countdown of our Top 100 Projects is the 500,000 sf Bakery for the Kitchens of Sara Lee in Deerfield, Illinois. This facility was the largest of its kind when completed in 1964 and includes space for baking, as well as research and office. This plant produced frozen baked goods including dessert cakes, Danish pastries and rolls and the food produced here was distributed throughout the United States.
Some of the unique features of this facility include an ‘ultra-modern’ oven room where individual cakes were baked in huge ovens that were 110 feet long and 12 feet wide! The plant also included a ‘revolutionary’ blast-freezer system which froze products in just minutes shortly after baking – which preserved freshness and flavor.
Additionally, if you thought the ovens were big wait to read about the size of the holding freezer. This space was the size of a football field and could store more than 8 million cakes at 10 degrees below zero!
This facility also contained the first electronic data processing ‘nerve center’ in the baking industry which helped maintain quality as well as help dispense the precise amount of ingredients for each unique Sara Lee recipe.
This plant was very well received by Sara Lee and the envy of its competitors, additionally in 1965 Factory Magazine named it one of the nation’s Top 10 new industrial facilities.
If you are wondering, this facility served as Sara Lee’s only production plant from 1964 to 1972, producing products out of 31 million pounds of flour, 14 million pounds of butter and 26 million pounds of sugar, as well as chocolate was brought in by rail tankers, 100,000 pounds per car.