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Van de Kamp's Bakery

Van de Kamp's Bakery was a favorite of Southern California residents for many, many years. The bakery was sold by the Van de Kamp family to General Baking Co. in 1956. The company was then sold to private investors in 1979, and closed in bankruptcy in 1990 .

Theodore Van de Kamp founded the bakery and the seafood company, and he also was one of the co-founders of "Tam O' Shanter Inn", Lawry's Prime Rib Restaurant, and Lawry's Seasoning Company. The seasoning company was sold to Lipton/Unilever in 1979, then sold to McCormick & Company in July 2008. It appears that the only connection the family has with any of these is with the Lawry's Prime Rib Restaurant in Beverly Hills, CA.

There is a history of Van de Kamp's here: KCET

When Van de Kamp's Bakery closed it's doors in 1990, the owners must have collected all of the recipe books and either locked them up or destroyed them, and they must have sworn all the employees to secrecy. In all the years that I have been doing this site, I have never found any recipes that were verifiably from the bakery, nor have I ever been contacted by a former baker from Van de Kamp's. The original recipes would have been commercial recipes for making commercial quantities of cookies using commercial ingredients. Even if they were found, it would be difficult to convert them to small-batch home kitchen recipes. (But see below!)

According to Made in California by George Geary, Van de Kamp's five most popular products were:

  • butter crunch cookies
  • chocolate cupcakes
  • date nut loaf cake
  • milk chocolate bells
  • powdered sugar donuts

The recipes linked below are the only recipes that I have been able to locate on the Internet, and they are just attempts at re-creating the recipes. They are not actual Van de Kamp's recipes. After 1929, many, if not most, of Van de Kamp's pastries were made at a central production facility located at Glassell Park in Los Angeles. The pastries were then delivered to the retail shops. That reduces the likelihood of finding any actual recipes.

From what I have read on message boards, it appears that the recipes and the rights to use the name "Van de Kamp's" are now owned by company called "InterAmerican Products"
A few(very few), packages of cookies with the name "Van de Kamp's" have appeared for sale in Ralph's and Kroger's supermarkets, with InterAmerican Products given as the producer. The bakery division of InterAmerican Products appears to be "Columbus Bakery".

There is a Facebook page devoted to Van de Kamp's Bakery. Van de Kamp family members and former bakery employees would be attracted to the page:
Van de Kamp's Bakery on Facebook

There is some activity, including some posts from Jody Van de Kamp, granddaughter of Theodore Van de Kamp, co-founder of Van de Kamp Bakeries, on this page: Chowhound

Kelly's Kookies has a sugar cookie that, I am told, tastes similar to Van de Kamp's Holiday Sugar Cookies.

The recipes linked below are all "tastes-like" or "copycat recipes." I have never found even one authentic Van de Kamp's recipe.

UPDATE: Fantastic news! I get a lot of requests for Van de Kamp's Bakery recipes, and thanks to George Geary, many of them are now going to be available. So far he has the: Peanut Butter Cookies, Cherry Almond Squares, Chocolate Chip Cookies, Molasses Cookies, Sugar Cookies, Lemon Snack Cookies, Peanut Snack Cookies, Chocolate Cookies, Holiday Cookies, Maple Pecan Cookies, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies . He will be adding more as he converts the bakery formulas for home use.
George is the author of Made in California: The California-Born Burger Joints, Diners, Fast Food & Restaurants That Changed America, which I heartily recommend. He has refurbished the Van de Kamp's Bakery Facebook Page. His own Facebook page is George Geary on Facebook. His main website is here: George Geary. Check his Blog page regularly for new Van de Kamp's recipes.

Another UPDATE: More fantastic news! Van de Kamp's Bakery appears to be coming back, at least in some form. Link:

I've found these recipes:

No luck with these:

  • angel cake with milk chocolate frosting
  • any icing or frosting
  • bran muffins
  • brown sugar cake
  • cheese bread
  • chicken pot pie, frozen
  • chocolate cake filling
  • chocolate cookies
  • coconut cake
  • crumb donuts
  • French Coffee Cake
  • fruit cake for employees
  • gluten free bread
  • holiday cookies
  • honey bran muffins
  • honey luncheon cake
  • lemon Danish Squares
  • milk chocolate cupcakes
  • mocha cake
  • orange breakfast rolls
  • orange cake
  • orange chiffon cake
  • pineapple pie
  • prune Danish ring
  • rye bread
  • slivered almond coffee cake
  • spanish omelet
  • spice cake
  • VDK Restaurant spaghetti sauce
  • white birthday cake
  • windmill cookies

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