On the walls of Tiffiny’s Tipton Bakery, maps of Iowa, the United States and the world bristle with pins. Each pin represents people who have either traveled to Tipton for one of the bakery’s signature crescents, or a place in the world the pastries have been shipped. There are pins as far away as China, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Madagascar.
For 90 years, bakers in Tipton have been creating these unique sweet treats. The fluffy half-moon pastries are topped with cream and powdered sugar, and almost a century ago, the Tipton Bakery’s first owners dubbed them crescents.
The Hartog family first opened the bakery in 1928, and there have been six owners in the intervening decades. In 2012, the current owners, Tiffiny Meinert and her husband, Stacy, bought the bakery and kept the crescent tradition going.
When the last owner, Robert Sissel, announced he was closing the business, Meinert said the community’s dismay was palpable. “People freaked out. Remember when they announced they weren’t going to make Twinkies anymore? That’s kind of what it was like here,” she said.
Meinert’s friends and neighbors alike told her she should buy the bakery and keep it going. She has a degree from Dunwoody Industrial Institute in Minneapolis in Baking Management, but for 25 years had worked in health care and retail. The chance to return to her baking roots was too much to pass up. The building’s Realtor, Chris Cook and his wife Carmen, also were former owners, and they helped show her the ropes.
“My husband thought I was nuts when I said, ‘Honey, we’re going to look at the bakery,’” she said. “But then he said, ‘Wow, this is kind of like coming home for you, isn’t it?’”
And it was. Baking has been her passion since she was a child.
“When I was 3, I told my parents, ‘I’m going to own a bakery,’” she said. “I’ve never felt like it’s been a job. I get to do what I love.”
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Her mother had recently died, and Meinert used money from her estate to help finance the business.
“So it’s kind of like Mom bought the bakery,” she said.
They closed briefly in June 2012, and the Meinerts spent some time doing maintenance, upgrades and painting before reopening on July 20.
Though the bakery first opened in 1928, it moved into its current space in the early 1930s. Some of the original equipment still is in use, including an oven.
“It only has one speed out of 10, but it’s very reliable, and we use it every day,” Meinert said.
Crescents aren’t the only treats the bakery sells. The head baker often arrives around 9 p.m. to bake through the night, turning out everything from loaves of bread to doughnuts to treats like cinnamon twists. They deliver their baked goods around Eastern Iowa, to small town convenience stores and places like Kathy’s Pies in Cedar Rapids. There is plenty of work to keep three full time and three part time employees busy, plus the Meinerts, who both work in the bakery full time. And they’re planning to expand. Meinert will be opening a second location in Muscatine later this year.
“The ultimate goal is to franchise,” she said. “I’d like to see the Tipton Bakery crescent be a household name.”
In the meantime, they’re preparing to celebrate the bakery’s 90th birthday this weekend. On Friday and Saturday, crescents will be discounted from their normal counter price of $1.80 to $1.35. Last year, they went through 4,600 crescents in less than two days on the anniversary weekend, and this year they plan to make around 5,000. Calling ahead to pre-order is highly recommended, Meinert said.
Seeing that amount of love for the crescents is heartwarming, she said.
“Part of it is the memories everybody holds. We have a lot of people who say, ‘I came in with my parents,’ and ‘I remember when ...’ And that’s kind of awesome,” she said. “We’re very honored to be able to continue the tradition.”
• What: Tiffiny’s Tipton Bakery
• Where: 405 Cedar St., Tipton
• Hours: 5:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 6 a.m. to noon Saturday
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• Details: (563) 886-2558, tiffinystiptonbakery.com
• 90th birthday celebration: Crescents discounted to $1.35 each, or $8.10 for 6 or $16 for a dozen, Friday and Saturday. Preorders recommended.
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