J. Skinner pastries made here, sold here too

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Posted: Saturday, November 23, 2013 12:00 am

A reader who saw our story last week about J. Skinner baked goods wondered where in Omaha she could buy them.

I checked with the company and they said the pastries are at all local Walmarts and several Hy-Vees and No Frills stores.

I love history and it was fun to learn about how this family’s businesses stretch back over 100 years in Omaha. The best part was touring the bakery. Even though we had to wear a hairnet and a lab coat (the photographer took a picture but I will not be posting it here!) it was fascinating to see how they make those pastries on a large scale.

Danish dough is rolled out in long ribbons, and butter comes in 50-pound cubes. There was a robotic muffin machine that could grab hundreds of muffins at a time. But it took a human touch too -- the automatic blueberry dispenser sometimes dropped blueberries unevenly onto the muffins, so there is a worker whose job it is to toss blueberries at the muffins and fill in the gaps so they look just right. And workers, not machines, put the glaze on the rolls and Danish -- while it’s not as perfectly controlled as the company’s CFO joked that he would like, it gives the pastries a handmade look that he said customers prefer.

The Omaha bakery employs about 400 people and will be adding more hours and shifts in coming months thanks to a new contract with a major national food service distributor.

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