Paczki may still be a tricky word for many people in the Upper Ohio Valley (southeastern Ohio and West Virginia) to pronounce, but that doesn’t stop them from eagerly awaiting its return as Ash Wednesday approaches each year. They know they will find these popular, pleasingly plump Polish pastries at their local Riesbeck’s Market.
|The Paczki-mobile acts as a moving billboard promoting |
Riesbeck’s annual paczki promotion.
It’s always a party when the paczki make their annual appearance at the 15 Riesbeck’s-owned supermarkets (operating under the Riesbeck’s Markets, Riesbeck’s Pick ‘n Save, Mor For Less and Village Market banners). At the flagship location in St. Clairsville, Ohio, hundreds of customers, attracted by the pre-party advertising and in-store hoopla, came to dance in the aisles to a local polka band and sample the celebrated sweet, while others already familiar with the filled donut-like delicacy, came to stock up.
In case anyone needed a reminder of what bakery item was the star of the show, the bakery featured towers of more than a thousand special red and white paczki boxes. The colorful “Paczki-mobile,” which Bakery Director John Chickery describes as “a souped-up truck decorated with banners,” delivered pastries to various community organizations and businesses.
At Riesbeck’s Markets, customers have something to celebrate every season. Fastnachts may be best known as a traditional pre-Lent treat, but at Riesbeck’s, the German fried pastry also has been receiving raves as the center-stage sweet at the stores’ Oktoberfest fall harvest festivities for the past seven years. German music, a themed deli tie-in and an open-air market offering sausage sandwiches extend the ethnic extravaganza throughout and even outside the store.
Summer means Strawberry Fest at Riesbeck’s. Store employees look forward to competing for prizes and bragging rights by creating attention-grabbing displays and appetizing bakery specialties focusing on the fruit.
“We’ve been doing this promotion for about nine or ten years, and the displays have become more and more inspired and elaborate,” Chickery says. “Employees even visit the other stores in the Riesbeck’s family to check out what their competitors are doing.”
Last year, one store had strawberries “raining” from cotton batting clouds. Another sent shoppers on a stroll through a fantasy neighborhood they dubbed Strawberry Street. Limited edition products ranged from fresh strawberry éclairs to strawberry fritters.
A similar contest, featuring pumpkin face cakes, perks up the Halloween season for bakery workers and customers. Although prime pumpkin product time in Ohio is September to February, the bakery teases consumers who crave its seasonal signature pumpkin nut cookies in July with a well-advertised limited run.
“We like to whet their appetites, so they start to think about and anticipate our most popular seasonal specialties,” Chickery says.