Butchers, Bakers, & Candy Makers

Locals aim for a slice of the food industry pie


(page 3 of 10)

Cassandra Thomas

Company: Sweet Potato Sensations

Products: Sweet potato pies, tarts, cupcakes, cheesecakes, cobblers, and more

Distribution: Store in Old Redford, farmers markets, and retail stores, including Whole Foods

Back story: Remember that character in Forrest Gump naming all the ways to prepare shrimp? Cassandra Thomas can offer up a sweet potato version of that list.

But it started off with a simple cookie. The former Hudson’s buying manager decided to test the waters in 1987, setting up a table at a 30-block garage sale. She gave out samples, and asked people to fill out a survey. Two findings: They loved the cookies but not the name “Mrs. T’s Cookies” (it evoked an ubiquitous 1980s Mr. T character). Then her husband had a dream and a slogan: “Sweet Potato Sensations … The Greatest Taste in the Nation.”

They sold 125 bags “without pushing,” Thomas says. But it wasn’t exactly legal. So she rented a licensed kitchen in the North Rosedale Park Community House.

After some hard lessons, Sweet Potato Sensations moved into their own building in 1994 (across from their current 5,000-square-foot location).

They were also featured on Food Network a few years back — a channel Thomas says her husband used to turn off. “He doesn’t turn it off anymore,” she says.

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