Dorothy & H. David Dalquist
Scandinavian-American Hall of Fame
When he was growing up, H. David Dalquist’s mother would begin each day by asking him what he was going to do to make the world a better place. Today he might answer, “Let them eat cake!”
After serving in World War II, Swedish-American Dalquist returned home to Minnesota to pursue his dream of owning a business, and in 1946, with only five hundred dollars but a wealth of optimism, he and his Danish-American wife Dorothy acquired a small aluminum company and began producing bakeware under the label Nordic Ware. The brand would eventually become a household name with the introduction of the Bundt pan. To date, more than 60 million of the round, fluted pans with a hole in the middle have sold worldwide, and the still-family-owned company has grown to employ 350 in the design and manufacture of a broad range of quality kitchenware.
The Bundt came to be in 1950 when Dalquist was asked to replicate a “bund,” a heavy iron cake mold used in the old country. Dalquist’s reincarnation in cast aluminum was well received and soon in demand. He marketed his Bundt (adding the “t” for trademark purposes and to avoid association with a pro-Nazi group) — but it was in 1966 after a Texas woman used a Bundt pan to win second place in a Pillsbury Bake-Off that it really took off. Pillsbury introduced Bundt cake mixes, and the public response not only catapulted Nordic Ware onto the national scene, but propelled Pillsbury past rivals Betty Crocker and Duncan Hines. The cake mix and Bundt pan sold together for $1.98.
For David and Dorothy, the success and growth of the company were natural extensions of their business beliefs, beliefs that have led them to shun offers to sell out or move labor overseas. As daughter Linda Dalquist Jeffrey says, “the family atmosphere still thrives inside Nordic Ware…where fairness, integrity, open communication, and respect for others is practiced every day.”
Most would agree…Nordic Ware — Bundt cake, certainly! — has made the world a better place.
Dorothy Dalquist is 100% Danish while David was 3/4 Swedish and 1/4 Norwegian.