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How one woman’s baking pastime landed her cake on Oprah’s Favorites List 4 times

Caroline's Cakes has been recognized four times (including this year) on Oprah's Favorites List, and was featured in the 2011 award-winning film, "The Help."/WLOS

SPARTANBURG, South Carolina (WLOS) — In 1982, Caroline Ragsdale Reutter baked her now-famous 7-Layer Caramel Cake for the celebration of the christening of her son, Richard R. Reutter.

Little did she know how quickly that would change the trajectory of her career — that 40 years later, that cake would land on Oprah’s Favorites List for not the first time — but the fourth.

‘The ‘Oprah Effect’ is very, very real,” said Richard, Caroline’s son. “It means a lot to have our small little bakery here get national attention like that.”

Caroline’s background was in interior design, and baking was solely a generational pastime that was enjoyed during all occasions, happy or sad. It wasn’t until she began to get people from as far away as Alaska and Hawaii contacting her, wanting to purchase the Caramel Cake that they had heard so much about, that she started to lay the foundation of her business, Caroline’s Cakes.

That foundation was cemented when she received an order for 2,000 cakes, which she, without hesitation, agreed to fulfill. At the time of that order, the most cakes she could make in a single day was eight.

“She accepted that order with zero hesitation; she knew that opportunity when she saw it, and it was the catalyst for building what we have here today,” said her son, Richard, about that first large order.

In 2012, the family purchased a building and moved their bakery to Spartanburg, South Carolina. Although Lake City is Caroline’s hometown, Spartanburg provided better shipping expenses to customers.

Then, in 2004, after Richard graduated from Hobart College, Caroline asked him if he would like to join the team at Caroline’s Cakes. Knowing how much he could learn from his mom, he readily accepted. For the next 15 years, Richard worked side-by-side with Caroline, soaking in her knowledge, love and expertise.

On July 15, 2017, Caroline passed away, leaving her legacy to her family.

“Mom was so involved in every aspect of this business,” Richard shared. “It meant the world to me. I learned so much. I think there are flashes of her everywhere in this business, certainly with the cakes, but now in the appearance of the storefront.”

Caroline’s Cakes has been featured four times on Oprah’s Favorites List (2011, 2017, 2020, 2022) almost exclusively for their 7-Layer Caramel Cake. In 2020, they made Oprah’s Favorites List with three of their cakes (7-Layer Caramel, Blackberry Lime, and Coconut Cloud). The 7-Layer Caramel Cake was also featured in the 2011 award-winning film, “The Help.”

“It’s a real honor, and I take a lot of pride in the positive impact that we can have on people’s celebrations,” said Richard, now the president of Caroline’s Cakes. “It’s a privilege to be a part of their traditions, and that’s something that mom started.”

All are encouraged to stop by their retail location at 925 Beaumont Avenue in Spartanburg, S.C., or visit the shop online: