In Yorkville, New York, there is a beloved “mom and pop” bakery that has been delighting area residents for more than 60 years. Holland Farms Bakery & Deli is known throughout the region for its famous jelly buns, half moon cookies and tomato pie. In fact, the bustling operation is said to turn out more “hand made” baked goods than any other bakery in the surrounding New York-New Jersey area.
Sweet History to Sweet Success
Originally starting as a dairy delivery service in 1928, Holland Farms made door-to-door milk deliveries to residences, business and hospitals throughout the Utica area.
However, when the bustling dairy service’s founder and owner John Piersma encountered a couple of Dutch bakers looking for jobs in 1955, he and his wife Evlyn decided to expand the family business. They soon opened Holland Farms Dairy Bar and Bakery and began to offer fresh, quality-baked goods.
While Holland Farms exited the dairy delivery business in the 1990s, it had found its sweet spot turning out donuts, cakes, pies and pastries made from scratch—all served with a smile. Today, the Piersma’s daughters, Marolyn Wilson and Suzanne Harrington, run the bakery that now employs 80 people who help them to serve up the fresh favorites and friendly service that the community has come to love.
One of these favorite items, the bakery’s famous jelly buns, brings in crowds of customers particularly during the month of February—Jelly Bun Month.
Recognizing that February was a slower month for the bakery, Marolyn suggested a promotion around the “squishy, whishy” buns overfilled with black raspberry jam and topped with confectioners’ sugar as well as the glazed and plain varieties. Each February the buns are given their time in the spotlight throughout the bakery’s advertising and marketing efforts. See one of the bakery’s local commercials about its Jelly Buns: https://hollandfarms.com/bakery/jelly-buns/
“Jelly Bun Month has been very successful for our bakery as it gives our customers permission to indulge and enjoy a treat,” said Marolyn.
The tactic has obviously paid off because the bakery sells approximately 60,000 jelly buns in February!
Marolyn adds that the bakery also launched a similar promotion for the month of March called “Moon Madness Month” to promote its half moon cookies—a regional specialty that includes either a chocolate or vanilla cookie frosted with one half chocolate and one half vanilla.
“On a good weekend, we may sell up to 300 dozen,” said Marolyn.
Beyond its popular baked goods, Holland Farms also operates a full-service deli and features daily specials, sandwiches, soups, salads and more. And the bakery prides itself on yet another delicious item unique to the central New York region—tomato pie!
Not to be confused with pizza, tomato pie—at least the version that is popular in the Northeast—includes pizza dough topped with tomato sauce and grated cheese that baked in a full sheet pan and then served cold.
A favorite at many of the Italian bakeries in the Utica area since the early 1900s, tomato pie debuted at Holland Farms about 20 years ago when Ramon Zayas, the bakery’s former production manager, started working at the bakery and brought his recipe with him.
“Ramon’s Tomato Pie is a favorite dish on picnic days or just before the holidays,” said Peter Fumarola, a baker with Holland Farms. “People outside of the region may be confused when they first hear about Tomato Pie, but once they try it, they are hooked.”
Peter adds that the bakery makes the pies fresh each day, starting with Gold Medal flour to make the Sicilian-style crust, then topping it with a savory sauce and grated, imported Parmesan cheese—all baked to perfection. It is available in 24-cut, 48-party cut or half sizes.
“Holland Farms Bakery & Deli is that hometown bakery that everyone goes out of their way to visit to get those familiar, regional favorite items,” said Tom Santos, a General Mills Foodservice account manager who has worked with Holland Farms for 20 years to offer a variety of flour and baking products. “Marolyn, Peter and the entire staff are so successful because of their amazing customer service and their steadfast dedication to consistency and quality in all they do.”
Want to give Tomato Pie a try? Start with Gold Medal Flour.