Last summer, at an Independence Day family gathering, Jacqueline and John Samples noticed that people couldn’t get enough of the homestyle honeybun cake baked by John’s mother, Mary Samples. So many people went back for seconds, and maybe thirds, that Mary Samples had to bake another cake that day to keep peace in the family.
“People just went crazy over these cakes,” Jacqueline Samples says. “It was mayhem.”
And in that moment, the Samples knew they had the basis for a new business. Late last year, Jacqueline, John and Mary Samples opened Heavenly Honeybun Cakes in Tyler. The bakery specializes in honeybun cakes, a traditional Southern delicacy that actually tastes like a rich, homemade honeybun.
Now available at FRESH in a refrigerated case just opposite the pastry counter, the Samples’ honeybun cakes are sweet, moist, and practically impossible to stop eating. (Don’t ask me how I know that. Except, well, I did end up hiding the last pieces so nobody else could eat them before I could get to them.)
The Samples’ stroke of genius was deciding to change the cake from a standard sheet cake to a Bundt-type cake, baked in a pan that resembles a rose. Frosted with their signature cream cheese icing, the cake really does look like a giant, domed honeybun or cinnamon roll.
John and Jacqueline had been thinking of starting some sort of business ever since moving from Atlanta to Tyler in 2005. (John, a manufacturing manager, grew up in Tyler, and his parents are retired educators.) They both have an entrepreneurial bent; they’ve long owned rental properties, and Jacqueline, a computer programmer, has had her own consulting business in the past.
But with Heavenly Honeybun Cakes, they see a chance to create a legacy business for their three sons, and to give back something more to the community. They already donate to such local charities as the East Texas Food Bank, Women in Tyler, the Salvation Army and local schools.
At FRESH, you can choose from three cake varieties, baked fresh at the Samples’ bakery: sweethearts, little treats about the size of a cupcake; whoopee pies, two little cake tops, sandwiched together with cream cheese frosting; and the original large honeybun cakes, big enough to feed a crowd. Assuming, of course, you’re willing to share.