Tomorrow is Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, and for many that means celebrating with a few indulgences, including a traditional king cake.
Made popular in New Orleans, the cakes are a sweet doughy confection with a hint of cinnamon that is then topped with icing in the hues of Mardi Gras — purple, gold, and green.
While king cakes may be all the rage each Mardi Gras season, Walmart has three true queens of cakes 365 days a year. Stacie Clawson of store 3789 in Ogden, Utah, is a three-time winner of Walmart’s annual cake decorating contest, and shares the 2014 crown with two other regional winners: Rachel George of Morris, Illinois, and Laurie Grissom of Cary, North Carolina.
“My first job was working in a small local bakery,” Stacie said of her early days. “I was a closer for the store, but eventually moved to making doughnuts and helping the cake decorator. When the decorator left, they asked if I wanted that job and I just learned as I went.”
After honing her decorating skills, Stacie says she moved to a position with the Walmart bakery in 2001 for more opportunity and better benefits. Having worked at three Walmart locations, all within a 30-minute radius of her home, Stacie is used to making both regular production cakes and special orders for customers at the Ogden store. “I love to do special orders — anything we don’t have in the book,” she said. “People will bring in items, like plates for a baby shower, and ask me to come up with something that matches the theme. I get to be really creative with those.”
“I’ve learned a lot from others that I’ve worked with,” Stacie said, “and I’ve also tried to teach anyone else who may be working with me in the cake decorating department.” Stacie has even shared her passion with her nieces and neighborhood children who compete in the kids’ cake decorating competition at the local county fair each year.
As for Walmart’s cake decorating contest, Stacie
sent in a portfolio of her work in 2012 and hoped for the best. She was
selected as one of three winners from across the U.S., and repeated her victory
in 2013 and 2014. While winners from 2013 and 2014 celebrated at the home office
in Bentonville, Arkansas, in 2012 the champions had the chance to participate
in a live cake decorating competition in none other than New Orleans. “It was a
fun opportunity, and I remember being very nervous because I had never competed
in a live competition like that,” Stacie said. When asked if this Walmart
“queen of cakes” had a chance to sample a king cake while she was in The Big
Easy she says, “Unfortunately, it was in June, so I didn’t get to have one.” However,
with a track record of winning like Stacie’s, there’s something, perhaps, much
better to savor: the sweet taste of victory.