Don't Buy Wilton, Instead Try...

by - Monday, August 22, 2016

In earlier, pre-spawn years, The Boy and I took a cake decorating class. It seemed like something that would be cool to do, and one of those skills that could come in handy. We took the class at Michael's, and the real first key point of the class is that you need a bunch of Wilton products. If you want frosting, go buy some Wilton powder and a bunch of Crisco (really? Gross). You need Wilton baking pans and Wilton decorating sets. If you don't fully submit to Wilton's cake-decorating dominance, you will never truly decorate a cake.

piping on a cake at a wilton decorating classpiping on a hamburger at a wilton decorating class

Well, it turns out that we weren't destined for Cake Decorating Greatness anyway. These are two of our masterpieces- the one on the right is an albino hamburger. We consistently got in trouble with our teacher, who just wanted to go home and watch The Voice, and I think we gave at least one of the Wilton decorating sets away (because of course we couldn't just share one). So, watch out Food Network, we are coming for your cake challenges.

So, Wilton has cleverly set up these "classes" all over the country at Michael's stores. They are easy to sign up for, and they all have the same pretty high stuff requirement. It must make them a ton of money, and you will never guess where absolutely all of their baking and decorating equipment is made. China! They do make some of their edible stuff (sprinkles, food coloring, etc) in the States, but I would still check. Maybe twice. Definitely check.

This company is ubiquitous, but pretty sneaky about it. You won't see their ads, but they dominate a lot of baking shelves, from pans to cookie sheets, and I bet if you go through your cupboards, you will find something of theirs in there. They are just the basic, recognizable, and therefore trusted brand for baking.

Wilton started as a baking goods and candy-making equipment company in Chicago in 1929. They start their cake decorating school in 1946, and they quickly became so popular that they had to keep moving to accommodate the crowds. In 1959, due to demand, they started a mailing catalog of baking supplies. Through the 90's, they keep growing their schools and their line of products, going from one product to many. In the website's extensive description of their history, they never discuss the manufacturing of their goods or when all of it moved away. They also make a lot of Martha Stewart's baking tools, which we know are also made in China.

The schools do employ a lot of people in the States, and that is worth acknowledging, but this company also leaves a lot to be desired.

So if you want to bake cakes, but not waste oodles of fossil fuels shipping your pans long distances, where should you shop from instead?

usa pan round baking pan
from USA Pans on Amazon
1. USA Pans- Based in Pittsburgh, this pan company works primarily for commercial bakers, so you know their pans and cookie sheets are baked to last. They have such a good reputation that they make the fancy lines at both Sur la Table and Williams Sonoma. I love their no fuss approach, and I think their products are worth the money (but if you buy the USA Pans brand, it isn't even particularly more expensive) I am a hardcore fan of this company- the products that we have of theirs are awesome, and I really wouldn't buy another cookie sheet or cake pan from anyone else.

2. Parrish's Magic Line- These perfectly-named cake pans are also made in the USA and also come at comparable prices to Wilton's nonsense. Totally worth checking out before settling. You can also try Jacob Bromwell for cookie pan options.
india tree food coloring
from Sur La Table
3. India Tree- Wilton does make their gel food coloring in the United States, so good for them on that. The bad news is that their gel food coloring is super creepy goo that seems to last forever. Ours (from that cake class 3 years ago) still seems gooey when I look at them now. So not ideal. India Tree makes food coloring out of more natural ingredients, as well as lots of sprinkles and other doodads to cover your albino hamburger cake in. We have also tried a bulk option like made in the USA Chef O Van to cut down on packaging (and because red velvet cake takes a lot of red).
best manufacturers whisk
Best Manufacturers from Amazon
4. Best Manufacturers- Want to buy the baker in your life a gift that they will still think is awesome ten years from now? Try Best Manufacturers whisks, which are beautiful, well-made, and totally domestic! We recently got one to replace our target-bought failure (it lasted less than 2 years people, that is pathetic), and I only have good things to say about it.

dester russell frosting spatula
Dexter Russell from Amazon
5. Dexter Russell- Do you like spreading your frosting with a big professional spatula? Well, that makes one of us, my friend. Don't buy a Wilton, instead look into one like this from Dexter Russell (they have a bunch, so check around). Need something more low key? Try a spatula from Fletcher's Mill or Epicurean (this one looks great- I might add it to my own wishlist).

As a side note, I did look (a lot) into decorating bags and those metal tips, and Wilton's big competitor, Ateco, assembles their products in the US, but it seems they are made in Korea. I don't really even understand what could be assembled here, but it is a pretty lackluster option, so I can't list it as a better one in good conscience. I honestly think your best bet is to keep an eye out in consignment stores or even ask on Buy Nothing- we can't be the only cake decorating failures out there.




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