As of 8 a.m. on July 20, 2020, it is decreed: King Arthur Flour will henceforth be known as King Arthur Baking Company. The venerable Vermont business, which got its start in Boston in 1790 as Henry Wood & Company, hasn’t had a significant rebrand for more than 100 years. Perhaps it was time.
Baking has been seen as an old-fashioned pursuit, associated with nostalgia and family and warm kitchens smelling deliciously of breads, cakes, and cookies. Now it is moving increasingly into the future, as a younger demographic nerds out on sourdough starters, bakeries across the country push the envelope on traditional recipes, and Instagram documents it all in beautifully lit, mouthwatering glory.
King Arthur already was poised to be part of that forward motion when the coronavirus delivered a significant new audience to its door. Long appreciated among bakers for its high-quality flours and hard-to-find specialty products, the company saw an explosion in business during the pandemic. Its flour sales rose more than 2,000 percent in March, according to Adweek. A slew of reliable online recipes, a handy Baker’s Hotline, and the debut of the new COVID times “Isolation Baking Show” all helped make King Arthur Flour an indispensable resource for quarantine bakers.
In addition to the new name, King Arthur Baking Company has changed its logo — from an Olde Time-y knight on horseback to a crown of wheat that hews to today’s graphic-design sensibilities. It’s all intended, says a press release, to “better represent who we are today.”
It makes sense that an employee-owned company dedicated to spreading the love of baking to all might no longer feel spiritually aligned with a logo tied to British monarchy. But it remains to be seen how attached the loyal longtime customer base is to King Arthur's slightly fusty yet familiar image.
As Johnson & Wales baking instructor Mitch Stamm told Vermont independent newsweekly Seven Days last month: “King Arthur is like the best grandparents to bakers in the world.”