A historical marker in front of the Slaton Bakery in Slaton says the business started in 1923. In 1943, the Wilson family bought it and still runs it. “Well, I’m a third generation owner and baker here,” says Chad Wilson. “They call me the chief cookie officer, so I’m the CCO.”
Chad’s father Sherrell says the business started slow for his family. “Me and Mama would be waiting for customers to come in and we’d play a game of cards in between customers.” Things have changed. The bakery’s vanilla wafers and ginger snaps are popular items over a large area. “We’re in about 300 grocery stores in Texas and New Mexico,” says Chad. “We’ve made over a million bags of them now. We just passed that mark, something we’re proud of. They’re in blue and orange packages and have black and white photos on the front. The vanilla wafers feature my grandparents Barney and Ola Mae Wilson from about the 1960’s. Bags for the ginger snaps feature the delivery truck my granddad used in the fifties and sixties. We use our truck as a promotional tool in parades and commercials.”
The retail store is on a corner in downtown Slaton. The company’s cookie factory is a mile away in what used to be a church building. When they bought the corner property, they weren’t sure they could use all the space inside it.
“It’s all cram packed now,” says Sherrell. “Last year we had to add on to our cookie factory. We added on six thousand square feet of warehouse space and a loading dock.”
Chad did some hands-on marketing to build the cookie business. “I would go into the stores and talk to the managers, give them samples and pass out cookies to customers.” The bakery sells thirty varieties of cookies, twenty different pies, donuts, tortillas, bread and a whole lot of other goodies. “Our most popular sellers are thumb print cookies,” says Chad. “We’ve also developed a Texas Tech cookie which we sell to stores around Lubbock.”
Here’s a biggie. The Slaton Bakery invented sliced buns. “The first sliced hamburger and hot dog buns in the state of Texas started right here,” says Sherrell. My daddy thought it would be a good opportunity for him to offer something different.”
He says a big order used to be a dozen wedding cakes on weekends (some of those went as far away as Fort Worth). “More recently it’s trying to get two semi loads of cookies out.” He grew up in the business. “My baby bed at the bakery was a bread delivery box. When Chad was a baby he used to sleep on flour sacks.”
The bakery has made some big cakes. One five-feet tall bride wanted one as tall as she was. Once the bakery made a cake 15 feet tall and served 1,200 people. The bakery has lots of visitors. “We’ve had them from all fifty states and more than fifty countries. Many of them saw our billboard and came in.”