In 2008, Maryland made Smith Island Cake, a deliciously layered and chocalatey confection, into the official state dessert. That’s when the trouble started.
Well, to be accurate, the trouble started well before 2008, when the rural Eastern Shore community of Smith Island began losing population. Promoting the cake was an attempt to draw attention to the region while also providing an economic boost. The plan worked–kind of. As the Wall Street Journal reports, the Smith Island Baking Company sold nearly 70,000 cakes worth about $2 million last year. But the boom in cake orders hasn’t resulted in a corresponding boom in population; at last count, the island’s population had dwindled to 169 people, most of them over age 60.
As you can imagine, it’s logistically tricky to run a company from a tiny, isolated island. As the WSJ reports, most of the Smith Island Baking Company’s 21 employees spend the majority of their time on the mainland. While some cakes are still baked on the island, they’re all assembled at the bakery’s facility on the mainland.
Despite the many difficulties, the bakery’s owner, Eastern Shore native Brian Murphy is committed to Smith Island: “As long as there’s people who want to work, I’ll keep the bakery open on the island,” he told the WSJ.
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