Tiger Tales: The Pound Cake Man
After graduating from Clemson University in 1982, Jeff Bennett spent 35 years working in video production, starting in Nashville, TN. His passion and creativity shone through the music videos of iconic country artists, such as Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton. In 2000, Bennett returned to Clemson and took a job at the University Communications Center. While there, Bennett began making cakes for birthdays and celebrations of coworkers. When one staff member requested pound cake, he brought out his grandma’s famous recipe and hasn’t looked back since.
Bennett began experimenting with flavors after his coworkers went crazy over the cake, starting with pumpkin and banana pudding. He continued to bake for his friends and family out of his own kitchen. Around 2012, his sister recommended his baking skills to a recruiting agency in Greenville that needed Christmas gifts for clients. After tasting the pound cake, the agency placed an order for 75 cakes that Bennett would need to make over the course of three weeks. Bennett’s love for baking grew with his business.
On his way to the Orange Bowl in 2016, Bennett watched the film “Chef” which tells the story of a man who is moving back to Florida after being fired from his job and invests in a food truck. This inspired Bennett to purchase a mobile bakery, which he then took to events like Clemson’s First Friday Parade and Fall for Greenville. During the 2018 Fall for Greenville event, Bennett ran out of cakes on the first night. The next day, his truck had a 45 minute long line. He exited the truck to ask why people were waiting and they said, “Because they are so good!”
Since starting the business in his own kitchen, Bennett found a space and opened The Pound Cake Man Bakery in May 2020. Thankfully, the business has not been adversely impacted by the pandemic because it is a grab and go style restaurant, as well as delivering to on and off-campus residents. When asked why he thinks the business is so successful, Bennett says that it is a “niche business” that brings comfort to the Clemson community.
The Bennett family’s impact on Clemson spans over generations, with his father, George Bennett, serving as the head of IPTAY and starting the two-dollar bill tradition. Now with over 80 flavors of pound cake, Bennett plans to grow his business and open a new location in Greenville during 2022.