Friday Fun Facts: Nordic Ware

I can remember my grandma using a funny-shaped pan when she made certain cakes—a circular pan with ridges along the sides and a hole in the middle—very different from the square cake pans I was used to in my mom’s kitchen, but I didn’t realize until years later that she was using a Bundt pan.

And until a few years ago, I didn’t realize that the Bundt pan was invented right here in Minnesota, back in 1950 by H. David and Dorothy (otherwise known as Dave and Dotty) Dahlquist, founders of Minneapolis-based Nordic Ware (a family-owned company, known for manufacturing kitchenware products).

And until I wrote this blog post, I didn’t realize that the reason the pan has a hollow center is so heat can bake the cake batter on all sides, without leaving undercooked dough in the center. (Genius!) No wonder my grandma’s coffee cakes were always so moist and dense—and here I just thought she had the magic touch.

According to the Nordic Ware website, there are nearly 60 million Bundt pans in kitchens across the U.S. People who love to bake absolutely love these pans. Over 40 new creative Bundt pan shapes have been created in the last five years alone, a testament to the pan’s success.

The idea for the pan came after the American Jewish volunteer women’s organization—the Minneapolis Chapter of the Hadassah Society—asked Dave and Dotty to produce a kuglehof pan, similar to the one the society’s president had received from her grandmother in Germany. Dave, an engineer, produced the pan from cast aluminum for the Hadassah Society, and a few for the Nordic Ware trademark, which he sold to department stores using the name bund pan. (The word bund means a gathering—thus a bund cake, with its characteristic fluting, was a cake suitable for a gathering or party.) Nordic Ware created the pan and filed for a trademark to protect its creation, adding a “t” and renaming the pan the Bundt pan.

In 1960, the Good Housekeeping Cookbook showed a pound cake baked in a Bundt pan, raising awareness of the product. Six years later, during the 17th Annual Pillsbury Bake-Off, the Tunnel of Fudge cake—baked in a Bundt pan—won second place. And as they say, the rest is history. 

In 1978, Nordic Ware also introduced the patented Micro-Go-Round automatic turntable. It soon became the No. 1 selling microwave accessory.

Today the company has a full line of quality cookware, bakeware, grilling products, microwave and kitchen accessories, and gourmet mixes, as well as food service and industrial lines and systems (non-stick coating applicators).

All of the 350 products are made in the USA—one of the few cookware companies to stick to their “American-made” promise. The company has also received numerous awards of recognition for environmental efforts and safety programs, such as the Governor’s Safety Award for Achievement in Workplace Safety from the Minnesota Safety Council. Nordic Ware also has an ongoing partnership with local high schools to provide training and on the job experience for people with disabilities.

Shop for Nordic Ware products or take a cooking class (how fun would that be?!) at the Nordic Ware Factory Store (adjacent to the corporate headquarters—look for the Nordic Ware tower, which, coincidentally, is the world’s first concrete grain elevator). The store is located on the frontage road south of Highway 7, between Highway 100 and Beltline Boulevard/Ottawa Avenue in Minneapolis.