SYCAMORE – Hy-Vee stores nationwide are switching over from frozen to fresh, fried doughnuts in their bakeries.
The Sycamore location made the jump to fried donuts last week, and the bakery has doubled its doughnut sales since the launch, according to bakery manager Chris Szulc.
“You’ll notice a huge taste difference,” Szulc said. “But there’s more than just the taste. It’s going to be a definitely larger-sized donut than what we used to previously have.”
Hy-Vee bakeries fried doughnuts in stores at one time, but have been selling frozen doughnuts made off-site for the past decade. Szulc said the companywide switch will be completed by Dec. 5 and was all about satisfying the customer.
“[Frozen donuts] were an OK product, but Hy-Vee is all about quality,” he said. “That’s what prompted the change to go back to frying in the stores. They went to frozen for cost savings, but we realized we really want to provide a good quality product, so we brought the fryers back in the store and are doing everything in-house.”
Doughnut lovers will have 28 varieties and flavors to choose from, including a cereal-topped fruit loops ring, maple bacon long john and raspberry-filled Bismark.
“If you walk into our Hy-Vee, or if you walk into a Minneapolis store, you’re going to be able to get one of those 28 different varieties no matter which Hy-Vee you go to,” Szulc said. “Part of it was to get back to that consistency between every store, so the customer gets a great experience.”
In order to keep up with fresh daily doughnut production, the employees at the Sycamore store have adjusted their schedules. Szulc said the new product has turned the bakery into a 24-hour operation.
“Our fryer comes in at 8 p.m., our doughnut finisher comes in at midnight, that’s all in order to get the donuts filled and into cases by 5 a.m.,” he said. “We’ve moved some employees around. Our normal baker hours before were always 4 a.m. to 8 p.m.”
After a week and a half of sales, Szulc said the blueberry streusel has been an early favorite among customers.
“It’s got incredible crunch to it,” Szulc said. “It has real blueberry bits in it. We glaze them right off the fryer, so that glaze gets a nice shine to it.”
To help introduce the new fresh-fried doughnuts, store manager James Riess went around DeKalb County earlier this month and delivered donuts by the dozen to local schools and businesses, including the police and fire departments.
“When we introduce a new product, we like to get it in front of customers,” Szulc said. “With anything food-related … if people try them, if they like it, they’ll come back and buy it from us.”