Dairy Queen cake decorator spreads happiness
When Linda Wright began working for the Madras Dairy Queen in 1988, the restaurant didn't even sell cakes.
But, a few years later, Wright found her niche when Dairy Queen introduced the Classic Cake – an ice-cream cake with layers of vanilla and chocolate ice cream and that oh-so delicious fudgy crunchy goodness in the center.
And, she's been making cakes at DQ ever since, spreading happiness across the community.
But, her sweet creations are numbered.
Wright is retiring from Dairy Queen after a 32-year career.
"She's a beautiful cake maker," said Dairy Queen Manager Karla Brasel, who has worked with Wright for 19 years. "I'm going to miss her company. She is really fun to work with."
Wright was 33 when she went to work at the local burger and ice cream place. She'd been selling Avon products for a couple of years but had tired of all of the paperwork for taxes. Her next-door neighbor was working at Dairy Queen and told her they were hiring.
Wright got the job and for the first two years worked in the kitchen, making the burgers and fries. She then moved up front to take orders and make the treats.
Dairy Queen introduced cakes in the early '90s, and Wright offered to make them when the two cake decorators were on vacation. When they quit, Wright took over as head cake maker and decorator.
Those first Classic Cakes were mostly Blizzard cakes, and they sold whole cakes as well as pieces by the slice. They eventually introduced the Signature All Occasion round and sheet cakes, Blizzard cakes and photo cakes. Over the years, Wright could be found making all shapes and sizes of ice-cream cakes, often adding a personalized birthday or holiday greeting in colorful icing.
"In the summertime, we sell a lot more because of the weather. I would probably do 25 a week on a regular week, and then for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Father's Day, I've sold up to 70 or so in a day," Wright said.
During the cooler months, she makes 15 to 20 cakes a week. Although some customers preorder their specialty cakes, Wright always tries to keep a good selection in the freezer for those who drop in for a cold dessert for a crowd.
"We make them in-house," Wright says of the Madras Dairy Queen cakes. "We make them fresh. We've had a lot of people say they go to other Dairy Queens that have the premade cakes shipped to them, and they said they're not even close."
With retirement on the horizon, Wright has been working fewer hours over the last few months and has been training the new cake decorator – who is the owner's granddaughter.
"I'll continue to do cakes maybe one day a week until my replacement gal gets up to speed so she can keep up with it," Wright said.
Just this month, Wright's husband, Don, retired from Bright Wood. They don't have many plans for retirement, other than looking after Don's parents and enjoying the company of their two sons and five grandchildren.
Wright says she's really enjoyed the people who frequent Dairy Queen.
"Everybody in town knows who I am because I've been there forever," she laughed. "It's fun visiting with people. I love our customers."
Brasel, her manager, said, "She's going to be missed by the community because she does such a great job on doing cakes."
Brasel has made many memories and shared lots of laughs with Wright. She'll miss working with her and sharing photos of their grandchildren.
"It makes me feel good when people buy my stuff," Wright said. "I enjoy doing something that might make somebody happy."
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