Baking treats for your family is a treat for this family, too

Proprietor Ward Walston, above, shows off Bready Bear, a staple at Great Harvest Bakery. The Tempe-based, family-owned business produces myriad holiday treats each November and December. — Wrangler News photo

By Don Kirkland

Even though the holidays mean getting out of bed earlier than usual to mix, knead and bake an extra-abundant supply of goodies, Leslie and Ward Walston say it’s always their favorite season of the year.

Christmas is when the Walston family, including sons George and Floyd, take on the challenge of keeping up with what has become their busiest time, simply keeping up
with the demand for breads, cookies and cakes that grows every year.

If the explosion of interest in the home-baked, home fretted-over bakery products that emerge, hot and fragrant, from the ovens of Tempe- based Great Harvest, it should be no surprise, Leslie Walston opines.

“We don’t just make bread, we make memories,” she says. “Our trays come out of the oven with food that evokes the thoughts of long-held family histories, coupled with recollections of the happy days when Mom and Dad had more time for simple pleasures.”

Perhaps those images of days gone by aren’t the only reason that baked goods have regained their rightful place in our culinary history, Walston suggests.

“People who are budget conscious, health conscious—and, of course, who appreciate how homestyle preparation really can complement a special meal— these seem to be the notions shared by our customers,” she says.

And because no preservatives are added to their offerings, the Walstons can rightly claim such delicacies as their popular Berry Christmas Swirl or apricot and cinnamon babka are both long-lasting (no refrigeration, please) and healthful.

Nor has assembly-line automation invaded the bakery’s production schedule. “We experience a phenomenon that’s similar to why people like craft beers,” Walston notes. “You can’t rush craft beer; you can’t rush craft bread.”

With Christmas now only days away, the Walstons promise there’s still time to order Great Harvest’s lovingly nurtured goodies for holiday giving or eating.

“Because we know, after eleven and a half years, that rediscovering the joy of home baked treasures can be a memory-evoking experience, and people’s eyes sometimes well up. When that happens, it becomes a truly vulnerable moment.”

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