Now I have always had a sweet tooth. I am sure I always will. For most of my life, and much of my adult life, my favorite way to satisfy my sweet tooth was a trip to Hans Bakery. A bakery and unofficial historic institute in Anoka, this place was quintessential to everything that was a bakery. When I was a kid I remember making my way to the glass display case through the sea of legs, because at that time I was waist high and Hans was always packed. Behind this case was a plethora of every kind of doughnut, cookie and cake you could want. Pastries and doughnuts glistened with their crystalline glaze and oozed their berry fillings. Above the dispaly cases along the ceiling were example of decorated cakes you could buy, adding a festive and colorful touch, along with the wedding cakes in the window.
I ate extremely healthfully as a child. My mom was big on the food pyramid. We didn’t drink soda except for special occasions and we had fruits and veggies with every meal (I’m serious). Hans was such a treat. We would probably go once a month or so and my mom would let us get what ever we wanted, and I mean whatever. We could pick two things, sometimes three. At Hans I often ate a glaze doughnut and cheese cake for breakfast. My sister didn’t like doughnuts (don’t worry she and I know she is pretty much a freak for this) so she got to eat cookies for breakfast. It was one of my all time favorite things growing up, Hans.
Not only do I deeply deeply believe that they had the best glaze doughnuts on the planet and no one can touch their custard, but there was also the atmosphere that was appealing. The place was a neighborhood establishment. If you grew up in the northern suburbs, you knew Hans. The place was full of regulars. There was always the circle of senior citizens, half of them men wearing their WW II veteran hats. They would push a few tables together and all sit around it, dunking their doughnuts in endless cups of black coffee. The bakery was across the street from a middle school, so there were always teenagers popping in and out before and after school hours.
This is a place full of such happy memories for me. My sister and I drinking chocolate milk (believe me nothing goes better with doughnuts) watching the rotating cakes in the glass display tower, and waiting anxiously for our number to be called to order. When I was really young I used to get their “Texas” sized doughnuts, which were glazed doughnuts literally about the size of a dinner plate. I would order one every once in a while (okay this my mom didn’t let this be a regular thing) and without fail a random old man would exclaim “You can’t eat all that!” After my mom and I assured him I could, I would go on to prove myself. To this day I think I sincerely surprised some people and they weren’t just indulging me.
Now the bakery had been owned by Mr. and Mrs. Hans (I’m sure she was called something different but thats how I knew them) for most of my young life. When they retired it passed to different family members. The last owner was a nephew I believe. Now here is where I will probably get a bit ranty and mad. But somehow the guy managed to end a really great thing. The exact reasons are a bit fuzzy, but from my memories the changes weren’t very good to start with. He remodeled the entire place in all white and took away any personality it may have had. Made the prices bigger and doughnuts smaller. Now rumors I heard were financial, health board etc. But what makes me so mad is how much screwing up would it take to ruin Hans?? This place was always packed on a weekend. This place was historic! How to take a place with a loyal following that couldn’t be more well established and end it? Of course I don’t know the details, but I can see it nothing less than a great shame. Long story short the bakery shut down. I know that I am not the only one who had a heart, if not a little broken, at least a cracked to lose what was not only a great bakery but a neighborhood staple, and one that simply could not be replaced. I am not the only one sad to have lost a place of such warm childhood memories. I have also spent way to many bakery visits trying to find a place that had glazed doughnut that even came close to comparing to Hans, and there was no way to replace their beehives, as they were unique to this bakery.
That was roughly five years ago. Now just when it seems I will never have my doughnut itch scratched, I hear something truly wonderful. Hans is opening again! How? A past Hans fan, like you or me, decided Hans Bakery simply couldn’t become little more than warm memories of the past. A local woman, Ms. Olsen from Blaine, won a grant on a television show, and is bringing this bakery back to life. She isn’t a baker, she isn’t a restauranteer, but in my opinion, she must be truly good, and clearly willing to work hard to bring back a good thing. She knew what this place was and knows what it can be. I am so grateful that Hans Bakery has been given a new lease on life, and that I will be able to share it again. This Saturday the 22nd I will not be the only one to head to Hans Bakery for it’s grand opening. I know I am not the only one who is more than excited to return, not only to my memories, but to a bakery that was simply too good to just let go.