Ode to the Third Shift: Baking to Preserve a Family Legacy

Time stands still on Wausau's north side, but inside the only glowing door on 3rd street, it's time to work for Todd Kreger.

"I started when i was in high school," Kreger's Bakery co-owner Todd Kreger said. "I worked at night and went to school during the day and scheduled my classes accordingly."

Kreger's day as a baker begins at 10:30 p.m. measuring ingredients.

"This is coming from flour, water, yeast, sugar," Kreger said.

At 11 p.m., two more workers arrive.

"I think a lot of people don't realize that we got a crew of men back here," Kreger said.

Kreger said it helps having extra muscle in the bakery at night, since some of the dough weigh around 100 lbs.

"We come in and mix everything and the girls come in at 4 (a.m.) to frost the donuts," Daniel Czerwinski said.

"I think the girls during the day get all the credit," Kreger said.

Buttering fresh Kringles and toasting coffee cakes in the middle of the night wears on time spent with his daughter.

"Third shift is hard because I'm not there at night ," Kreger said. "That is a downfall."

Czerwinski said he's worked for Kreger's for eight years, and his third shift with Kreger is his second job to make ends meet.

"Two weeks ago I had a 19-hour day straight, and had two and a half hours sleep, and then went back to work," Czerwinski said. "It feeds the family. I guess that's all that counts."

However, there is a sweet side to working third shift.

"It is nice when I'm home during the day," Kreger said. "I can have supper ready, pick the kids up from school, cut down on daycare costs."

Kreger also takes pride in keeping his family's decades-old original recipes a part of every-day baking.

"I get gratification that I'm producing the product," Kreger said. "A product that has been in the family for years."

Kneeding the dough in the early hours may be what he has to do to keep bread on the table for his family and yours.

"That's the bottom line you know," Kreger said. "It's just that's what makes the dollar and you got to do it."

But it's the family's legacy that needs to live on until the end of time, and you can bet Kreger will make sure of it..

"It's in my blood," Kreger said. "I was born and raised in it."

Until the end of each of his days and the beginning of ours...

"The yeast will not wait for anybody," Kreger said.

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