Local bakers work 12+ hour days, filling thousands of orders before Christmas

It's the holiday homestretch for Dane County's busiest bakeries

MIDDLETON, Wis.– For those of us who haven’t been to the North Pole, Clasen’s showroom floor is what you’d imagine it looks like.

There’s red and green everywhere. Cookies. Chocolate. Bread. Breakfast pastries. Even a kid-sized gingerbread house, which, yes, is made from real gingerbread.

We’re in the holiday homestretch, and Clasen’s Bakery is entering its busiest week of the year. In the days leading up to Christmas, 49 employees will log 12+ hour days, churning out 200 unique products and filling 2,000 orders.

“People want to have fresh baked goods, fresh quiche, chocolates, and gingerbread. And we’re happy they come to us,” said owner Michelle Clasen, who’s run the family-owned bakery for more than 30 of its 65+ years.

Clasen’s recipes are a secret, passed down from generation to generation, from Michelle’s dad, Ralph, to her son, Tony Wuestofen. This is Tony’s first Christmas working as a full-time employee at the business that bears his grandpa’s name.

“We’re coming up on 70 years here, and I’ll be here for year 100 eventually, hopefully,” said Wuestofen. “I’m proud to do it.”

RELATED: Third-generation Clasen graduates culinary school, joins the family bakery

It’s important to remember the holidays aren’t happy for everyone. Many families are coming off one of the hardest years of their lives.

There are dozens of local non-profits you can give to or get help from this week, including the Middleton Outreach Ministry, the Salvation Army of Dane County, Helping Hands Outreach Ministry, and Dane County Catholic Charities.

Click here for more information on the services each provides.

READ MORE: 14 holiday donation resources to help you give back in Madison