The Untold Truth Of Pampered Chef

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Gathering around another's hearth, a practice some may refer to as "a party," isn't always about bringing people together over the reciprocal enjoyment of their company. Sometimes it's about gathering your family and friends under one roof so you can sell them something.

Many of you have likely attended a selling party or have straddled one's periphery: Mary Kay cosmetics, Tupperware containers, PartyLite candles. Each a marketing event with the atmosphere of a get-together, Pampered Chef parties offer the same din of the family den, but with an intense focus on kitchen utensils, accessories, and air fryers.

A direct marketing company surviving into its fifth decade, Pampered Chef has also grown less direct to survive, jumping on the virtual train as COVID-19 increased its velocity. They have increased the reach of their brand deeper into online sales while continuing to churn out surprising kitchenware that feels surprisingly necessary. Whether the party is at home or on Web 3.0, Pampered Chef continues to match aspiring salespeople with culinary clientele, weaving a multi-tiered tale that's as layered as their company's design.

Pampered Chef is an MLM company

With a direct sales model that's executed by tiers of consultants, Pampered Chef is a multi-level marketing company specializing in kitchen tools, small kitchen appliances, and cookware. Although direct ordering from Pampered Chef's website is possible, the core of their business is carried out through Pampered Chef parties, where items can be purchased at a discount from party hosts.

These party hosts, also known as Pampered Chef consultants, make 20% commission as soon as they join, and can earn up to 27% on their sales through the company. If you're super successful, or just super dedicated, Pampered Chef will pamper you with up to a 33% sales commission if you form a sales team.

Pampered Chef offers multiple types of parties for their consultants to host. Parties can be held virtually via the Pampered Chef site, Table, or in person at a consultant's home. It's also possible to host a Pampered Chef fundraiser for your favorite charity, or a wedding shower for one of your besties.

They were founded by Doris Christopher in 1980

Doris Christopher rose from well-rounded beginnings before rising to the opportunity to launch Pampered Chef. The daughter of an auto mechanic father and a mother who worked in a factory during World War II before becoming a typist, Christopher's parents were always hard at work. Although perpetually busy, Christopher's father would take the family grocery shopping every week in what became a family bonding experience and undoubtedly influenced her future.

Aspiring to become a home economics teacher, Christopher helped change home economics forever, even if that change arrived slowly. After graduating with a degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana in 1967, Christopher taught home economics for a year at the high school level, then joined the Illinois Cooperative Extension Service where she taught the same class to both adults and kids in 4-H programs. Teaching home economics served as a safe bet for Christopher, but greater ambition gnawed at her. So in 1980, she started up Pampered Chef in the basement of her suburban Chicago home.

Pampered Chef is owned by Berkshire Hathaway

With a stock price that tends to hover around half a million dollars, Berkshire Hathaway appears to know exactly what they're doing in terms of investment. Part of that expert portfolio includes Pampered Chef, a business that caught Warren Buffett's eye for blue chips in the multi-level marketing space.

Acquired in 2002 from Doris Christopher and her family, Berkshire Hathaway quickly lauded the deal, with Buffett himself stating that Christopher had built "an absolutely wonderful business," according to CNN Money. Buffett's commendation rested on solid financials, as Pampered Chef exploded their revenue in the years leading up to the acquisition, increasing their earnings by 232% from 1995-2001. Comparing Pampered Chef to their competitors over this time frame really isn't a comparison at all, as its 232% revenue uptick was more than eight times the average output in the industry. Although Pampered Chef wouldn't stay hot forever, Berkshire Hathaway has stuck by their position and remains with them today.

They sell several unconventional cooking implements

You will not find Pampered Chef products on Amazon, only through their own website and an approved slew of consultants. But the fact that they are not in league with America's second-largest retailer may not be the most unconventional thing about Pampered Chef, as there are items on their website striving for the mantle.

For instance, Pampered Chef sells a "cooking blender" that allows you not to just make your own smoothies, but also blend and boil your own soups. Made from materials that can withstand temperatures up to 220 degrees Fahrenheit, the Pampered Chef cooking blender is an oddly versatile item swimming in a sea of small appliances. Within the same category, Pampered Chef also sells an ice cream maker, and even an indoor-outdoor grill.

Better yet, if you join as a host you can gain access to other interesting finds, such as mini oven mitts which are available when you sign up as a consultant and order the ultimate kit.

Pampered Chef is also available in Austria, Germany, and France

The Pampered Chef party is not just a United States phenomenon, but extends to Canada as well as finding footing in Europe through Pampered Chef Austria, Germany, and France. Overseas, the sales structure remains the same, keeping in line with Pampered Chef's direct-sales business model.

Items across these international markets differ, but only slightly. On Pampered Chef's European sites, you can order beeswax cubes, which are used for increasing the life of plastic-alternative food packaging. Aside from that, Pampered Chef's myriad product array remains relatively uniform, selling consistent kitchen implements and sticking with sales methods across multiple continents.

For those only looking to soothe their curiosity, a stark difference in taste can be seen if you click on the "Offers" or "Monthly Offers" section on each of the sites. Canada and U.S. versions bear similar deals, while offers in European markets can differ wildly.

They lost revenue in the mid-2010s

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway scooped up Pampered Chef in 2002 while the culinary company was in the midst of a hot streak. Having increased their revenue nearly 2.5 times over the previous seven years, Pampered Chef swooned the Oracle of Omaha and seemed far from any financial jeopardy.

According to the New York Post, that tide would turn in the 2010s, as a four-year stretch from 2015-2018 brought revenue reductions of $40 million to Pampered Chef's balance sheet. Buffett would remain positive, however, noting that the second quarter of 2018 had shown a turnaround, with Pampered Chef's earnings bouncing back with a 19 percent increase. That increase proved timely, arriving ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic, which would pivot Pampered Chef into the virtual party space, a place that ironically became more community-oriented as Pampered Chef rolled up their sleeves during COVID with a renewed push into charity.

In March of 2020, Pampered Chef named a new CEO

Pampered Chef endured a rough financial stretch under CEO Tracy Britt Cool's tenure from 2014 to 2019, a period that marked an extended period of lost revenue, and ended with Cool splitting completely from both Berkshire Hathaway and Pampered Chef.

When it came time to name a new CEO in 2020, Pampered Chef decided to hire from within, selecting their former COO Andrew Treanor. Treanor gleaned experience along nearly every stop of Pampered Chef's supply chain during his tenure as COO, and assumed the CEO role with efforts geared toward shepherding Pampered Chef's investment in online success (via Direct Selling News).

The pivot paid off, as Pampered Chef increased their online sales by 69.4% in 2020, according to Digital Commerce 360. Today, over 50% of Pampered Chef's sales occur online, a selling space that's become a far cry from where the venture began.

They launched a virtual party space in 2021

Over forty years after their founding, Pampered Chef still knows how to throw a party. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic put most gatherings on hold, Pampered Chef gave their hosts a pandemic workaround by curating virtual party spaces on a web-based service called Table.

Table runs on its own interface as an independent platform. According to Business Wire, this was a key feature, as it would open the doors to anyone with an internet connection, and not restrict the service's user base down to social media preferences or lack thereof.

Through Table and from the comfort of your phone, you can attend streaming cooking parties, as well as connect with consultants and other guests who've signed up for the app. According to Pampered Chef, their online world is a sprawling one, with over 10,000 consultants and 50,000 guests attending over 5,000 virtual parties.

They give to charity and allow sellers to throw fundraising parties

When you party with Pampered Chef, you can also party for a good cause. Through fundraiser events, Pampered Chef hosts can raise proceeds for Feeding America, The American Cancer Society, or any appropriate charity of the host's choosing.

Pampered Chef pledges to donate up to 15% of the proceeds of each fundraiser to their designated charity. They've also thrown in a charitable sales incentive, adding three dollars to their donation each time a guest from your party books a party of their own.

Pampered Chef has also teamed up with Feeding America's Round-Up from the Heart campaign. So if you'd like to give but are unable to attend a party, all you need to do is tap or click your device to donate. According to Feeding America, you can express your benevolence through buying a limited-edition item, or by rounding up the total of your online Pampered Chef order.

Their website is home to a massive recipe trove

With a mountain of culinary gear available on their website, it's easy to miss Pampered Chef's massive library of recipes. Subdivided along several culinary dimensions, you can search recipes sorted by price, diet, and course.

Pampered Chef also provides ample ideas for how to use their products, tailoring recipes specifically to their slow cookers, air fryers, and specialized baking pans. It's a portal where you can find out how to pressure cook Thai coconut shrimp in under 30 minutes and learn how to whip up frozen Piña Coladas in your cooking blender while you wait.

Where there's a will to cook, there's likely a recipe for it on Pampered Chef's website, as its impressive scope spans over 1,000 recipes at the time of this writing, a range that includes 60 recipes that are gluten-free as well as 30 meal offerings for those seeking low-carb options.

Pampered Chef runs a dedicated blog

Although Pampered Chef has joined Web 3.0 with their foray into virtual parties, another way they connect to sellers and customers is through old-school blogging.

Pampered Chef's blog typically updates with recipes and how-tos for their products, but also shares interesting stories about their company's history. In October 2021, they ran a piece titled Yesterday & Today, which tells the story of founder Doris Christopher and Pampered Chef's rise from obscurity in suburban Chicago.

Pampered Chef also publishes deep-dives into the how-tos of cooking methods such as braising, and the importance of knowing when to utilize clay cookware. The blog even features appetite-inducing listicles, like 8 Foods You Didn't Know You Could Grill and 5 Pressure Cooker Desserts for Any Occasion.

Informative and sometimes thought-provoking, the Pampered Chef blog is constantly updating with enough content to satisfy any foodie's curiosity.

They also run two subscription services

As the world of e-commerce seems to be the future of sales, Pampered Chef has expanded their offerings far beyond their direct sales lines. In addition to one-off online ordering, Pampered Chef now offers two distinct subscription services for those who don't mind keeping their tab open.

For those seeking added flavor, Pampered Chef customers can sign up for TasteBuds, a monthly subscription service that delivers seasonings and accompanying recipe cards directly to your home or P.O. box. For those interested in nutritional supplements, Pampered Chef has rolled out three separate supplement packets in a program they've dubbed Enrichables. Their trio of options consist of Enrichables Kale & Fiber, Enrichables Pea Protein, and Enrichables Super Veggie.

Customers can sign up in one, three, and six month auto-renewing intervals for both subscriptions, and can toggle between a variety of sizes and quantities with their Enrichables order.

They once settled out-of-court over a baking stone incident

With stoneware so successful that founder Doris Christoper wrote a book about it, it's ironic to note that the famed cookware would eventually embroil Pampered Chef in a newsworthy lawsuit.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Elizabeth Eavenson of Land O'Lakes, Florida, alleged that a jettisoned piece of a Pampered Chef baking stone cut her lip, and filed suit against Pampered Chef seeking punitive recompense in March 2004.

Eavenson's lawsuit would not head to court, however, as both parties reached an agreement in June of the same year to resolve the dispute. Due to the confidential terms of the agreement, neither party would disclose the terms of the settlement or how much money switched hands to the plaintiff. The only monetary details disclosed were that the legal action centered around baking stones that retailed between $18.50 and $25.50 at the time.