By Larry Blagg

Who would have guessed that the largest scratch commissary baking operation in Pennsylvania was The Penn State Bakery in State College, home of “Joe Pa,” America’s longest tenured and most successful college football coach, Joe Paterno. The Penn State Bakery services six dining commons, 11 Commonwealth Campus Dining Operations, two hotels, a conference center, a catering group and a number of cash operations.

This past summer, the California Raisin Marketing Board, Fresno, Calif., and consulting chef/baker Dominique Homo were invited to the campus to help the school create several new and healthy menu additions to their lineup of baked products. Over a three-day period, we developed a variety of baked products and narrowed it down to five items to be served at various times and places across the different venues.

“Our staff had an amazing experience with chef Homo and the California Raisin Marketing Board,” says Heather Luse, executive pastry chef. “The artisan breads and lavender cookies are going to be incorporated into our bakery menu this fall and spring. We’ll be creating even more new recipes with California raisins.”

California raisins are the lowest cost, all-natural, whole-fruit inclusions per pound for breads, pastries, cookies and more available in America. California raisins are high in antioxidants and potassium, are naturally low in sodium and have no fat or cholesterol, all of which make a good-for-you option.

Are you aware that there are typically 1,200 pieces of whole fruit in a pound of California raisins? Check the price in your distributors price book or contact any of our 28 packers at and you’ll recognize the value.

If your campus bakery or baking operation is looking for innovative and cost-efficient new products, please contact the California Raisin Marketing Board at 559-248-0287, and ask to speak to Rick O’Fallon or Genaro Gonzales about our Chef Assist program. We’re eager to assist other schools and commercial feeding operations and are willing to customize formulas and products that best suit your customers’ needs, whether they are hungry business executives or the Nittany Lions of Penn State and their fans.
The Chef Assist Program of the California Raisin Marketing Board has already created new menu items for Notre Dame University, Washington State University, University of New Hampshire and the University of Missouri.

Editor’s Note:Larry Blagg is senior vice president of marketing for Fresno, Calif.-based California Raisin Marketing Board, which sponsors America’s Best Raisin Bread Contest. Go to to learn more about California raisins.