RONKONKOMA, N.Y. — With Europastry as its parent company, Wenner Bakery touts itself as having “European heritage and American soul.”
Once exclusively known for its frozen doughs, Wenner is now able to offer a full line of products, including par-baked and frozen fully baked conventional and specialty bread, a wide array of sweet goods and European-style croissants, pastries and Danish. Internationally, Europastry’s portfolio includes more than 2,000 stock-keeping units, of which 400 are available through Wenner Bakery in the United States.
Dots provide a classic example of how Europastry is tweaking its top-selling product for American tastes. The light, airy, yeast-raised donuts rely on fermented dough that’s sheeted and floats as the pieces are half-fried, never fully submerged in oil. The automated process then flips the donuts over, creating a light-colored line that rings the outside of the donut.
“They contain a lot less oil than typical donuts,” said Alberto Alvarez, marketing director, Wenner. “With the high-quality ingredients and unique frying process, you get a fluffy, very soft donut. You can eat one, and you don’t get the sensation that you’re already full.”
Currently, all Dots are produced at Europastry’s production facilities throughout Europe and shipped internationally, but that may change as demand reaches critical mass in the U.S. market.
Overall, the frozen donuts have a 1-year shelf life before they’re shipped to the United States, which typically takes about a month. Because of their quality ingredients, proprietary formulas, extended fermentation and exclusive processing technology, Dots have an unusually long 3-day shelf life after they’re thawed, which generally takes about 15 minutes. That shelf life is much longer than the 8 to 12 hours for conventional yeast-raised donuts. Such simple convenience allows in-store bakeries to keep the shelves full throughout the day, even in the late afternoon and evening hours long after the bakers have gone home, Mr. Tey said.
The decorated rings, long johns and mini Pop Dots come in dozens of varieties — including complex combinations of iced, sprinkled, glazed or coated. The one-of-a-kind filled ring donuts may contain creamy cocoa, hazelnut or custard fillings. Many seasonal items are customized with drizzles and strings in intricate designs to give them a handmade look that’s more commonly seen in a mom-and-pop retail bakery shop — just without the hassle, mess or work.
“They’re trendy and different,” said Ben Rizzitello, Wenner’s retail marketing manager. “The icing, for example, isn’t the same as in America. It’s more of a European-style of chocolate icing.”
New to the portfolio are jelly-filled donuts, old-fashioned treats that are omnipresent in the United States. It took a little time to adjust to the American culture.
“In Europe, the sweetness and texture of the filling are more like marmalade,” said Oriol Tey, president of Wenner. “That’s why we use American-made jelly that’s more familiar to local tastes.”
Europastry initially came up with the official Dots Original name because one of its leading competitors in Spain already owned the copyright for “donut” and “doughnuts.” Go figure.
Instead of challenging it in the local courts, the company just deleted a few letters in the middle to come up with the abbreviated Dots line. Immediately, it became a huge success that has spread internationally over the years.
“Europastry is the biggest producer of donuts in Europe, and one of the biggest finished frozen donut makers in the world,” Mr. Tey asserted.
Because Europastry is primarily a non-branded supplier of frozen baked foods, the company preferred using generic “donuts” in its U.S. promotions, but it quickly learned that Dots marked the spot in a better way.
“Here in the states, we initially thought there was no reason for us not to use ‘donuts,’” Mr. Tey recalled. “However, when we started to present the line to our customers, they said, ‘It’s really not a donut. This is something much better. This is a Dot.’”
As a result, Wenner developed literature and supplied merchandising displays and even tailored its new web site and trade show booth that now markets Knots and Dots together under the Wenner Bakery banner.
“Dots are like cronuts a few years ago in that people had to taste them to really understand what makes them different from anything else on the market,” Mr. Rizzitello said.