At Publix, the Southern-style red velvet cake got its debut last month but is promoted now in the chain’s ads and POS materials.
“Whether our customers are hosting a Valentine’s Day party or having an intimate dinner ... this cake is a perfect fit,” said Publix spokesperson Shannon Patten.
Publix, known for the quality of its in-store bakery products, has seen two of its creations top its best seller list at Valentine’s Day every year: “Chocolate Ganache Supreme” and “Raspberry Elegance,” a cake comprised of four layers of vanilla cake with a raspberry filling, and covered with cream cheese icing.
Paczki decorated for Valentine’s Day will be the attention-getter at Riesbeck’s Food Markets, St. Clairsville, Ohio, and they’ll also help kick off annual paczki season at Riesbeck’s.
“Our Valentine paczki were very successful last year. We ice them in white and use string icing in red and pink over them,” said John Chickery, bakery director for the 16-unit independent.
Chickery doesn’t particularly like that Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year, but he said he’d make the best of it by stretching sales through the weekend.
“People will celebrate on Feb. 12, 13, 14, even on the 15th. ... It’s the only holiday I can stretch out like that.”
An 8-inch, heart-shaped cake on special at $7.99 is the best seller, but Chickery expects good sales from a 4-inch heart, too.
“Grandma might buy each grandchild a $4.99 heart-shaped cake.”
When sales die down after Valentine’s Day, retailers try to think of ways to keep sales going.
Riesbeck’s will get heavy into paczki production.
Paczki are very rich, doughnut-like pastries that had their origins in Poland. They’re usually eaten before Lent begins, but Riesbeck’s sells the treats on weekends right up to Easter Sunday. The biggest sales day is the day before Lent begins.
Last year, Riesbeck’s sold nearly a half million individual paczki between mid-January and Easter.
The paczki season was actually kicked off this year in mid-January when a new flavor with peanut butter filling was sampled on weekends.
“Most paczki fillings like prune and apricot appeal to adults but not to many children. So we were looking for a filling that kids would like,” Chickery said. “It’s a cream filling with peanut butter in it. Kids do like it and so do adults.”
Celebrations around paczki already have been going strong every weekend at Riesbeck’s. Accordion players at selected stores, and the annual Paczki Ball, featuring a polka band, the Saturday before the start of Lent has become an event Riesbeck’s customers look forward to. When they’re not polka-ing, customers sample paczki and other Polish food.
In Minot, N.D., cake manager Nyla Stromberg and her team of 10 at Marketplace Food & Drug have been working around the clock to get Valentine’s Day items ready and, separately, to gear up for a bridal show on Feb. 19. At the show, Stromberg’s team will show off what they can do with wedding cakes, and they’ll pick up orders for the spring.
Meanwhile, they were busy doing many things including making cake pops (right), dipped in red, white or pink icing and tossing tiny heart-shaped sprinkles on them. This is the first Valentine’s Day that Marketplace’s cake department has sold cake pops. They’re put in boxes of eight for $24.99.
“We can’t sell them individually — not at this busy time — because of the labor involved,” Stromberg said.
Jumbo cupcakes, iced in red and white and sold for $2.99 each, will make up a big volume of sales, Stromberg added. She points to another best-seller: a cookie bouquet. They’re made with XXL heart-shaped sugar cookies with each cookie wrapped in crisp plastic. The six cookies are then set in a bouquet sleeve.
One of the store’s most elegant-looking Valentine cakes is a simple round cheesecake with only a rose as decoration.
Business for Marketplace’s cake department has been through the roof recently, Stromberg told SN. A flood last year wiped out a sister store across town so this Marketplace is getting many of the customers who would have shopped there.
Stromberg expects Valentine’s Day sales to be terrific. V-Day falling on Tuesday doesn’t bother her.
“It just gives us more time to get ready.”