Jennifer Berthelsen prepares the dough to make twists for the Wahoo Bakery on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020, in Wahoo. The bakery sells a variety of pastries including doughnuts and rolls, and their own famous fried cinnamons. Many of the bakery items are the same recipes from when the bakery first opened.

Two Nebraska bakeries continue with original recipes for customers

Hours before the sun rises, employees turn on the light of the Wahoo Bakery to start the day. Loud sounds of the bakery machines fill the back of the business as employees stretch the dough, frost cookies and fry the doughnuts, all while talking about the day ahead. 

“Without the bakery, there isn’t Wahoo,” said Christina Whitney, the new owner of the Wahoo Bakery.

Whitney and her husband Wes took over the bakery on Oct. 6, after the previous owners Dale and Sherri Meece. As they begin their third week of owning the bakery, they have worked closely with the current long-time employees to keep the same recipes, while also figuring out what customers are wanting for new products.

Whitney also owns The Confectionist, in Omaha, where she makes cakes and other handcrafted pastries. After outgrowing a commercial space she rented, Whitney and her husband found the Wahoo Bakery. 

“There is so much tradition and history here,” Whitney said. 

The Wahoo Bakery first opened in 1924 and some of the same traditions have stuck with the bakery since then. With the new ownership, Whitney is not looking to change up the recipes or the store hours that the previous owners used. 

The bakery offers doughnuts, kolaches, horn rolls, hand-painted frosted cookies and other popular bakery items. Over time, Whitney plans to add her specialty cakes and other pastries to balance the traditions within the store. 

There are also five long-term employees who still work there.

Jim Slosser started working in the bakery when he was 14 years old. Around 50 years later, he is still making donuts with some of the original equipment.

Another Nebraska bakery also continues tradition in the small town. 

The Clarkson Bakery continues to serve the town of about 600 people, according to owner Kim Scott.

“It’s really pretty cool because there are generations that come to the bakery and have come to the bakery,” bakery owner Kim Scott said. “I was in high school and went to the bakery and you know my kids went to the bakery.” 

Scott bought the business in 2011 after her aunt and uncle, Sharon and Bob Cerv decided to retire. The recipes stayed the same. The most popular item is the kolache, but employees also bake bread, doughnuts and other bakery items. 

To help with sales, Scott prepares for the upcoming day of deliveries to wholesalers at 6 p.m. There are nearly 20 local small-town grocery stores, convenience stores and gas stations within a 50-mile radius they deliver to.

Clarkson Bakery has seen a rise in those sales from other wholesalers when COVID-19 started, due to the bakery’s dining room closing for the pandemic.  

“And of course, local people will say call an order,” Scott said. “I just tell them ‘Hey, I’ll leave the back door open and leave the money on the table.’” 

As for the Wahoo Bakery, customers continue to come in throughout the day to pick up their favorite items. 

“With the pandemic, it was scary buying this business, but the support,” Whitney said. “I can’t get over the support.”