RICHMOND (WRIC) - The weeks leading up to Thanksgiving are the busiest time of year for the Ukrop's Home Style Bakery, where hundreds of thousands of the company's famous rolls are produced.
For the very first time, a news crew is allowed inside the kitchen to see how it all happens. 8News Senior Reporter Nate Eaton got the exclusive look.
One look and you'd think he's about to enter a top secret lab.
He puts on a white coat, a hair net, and washes his shoes to keep the area as sanitary as possible.
The Ukrop's bakery is a place you've likely never seen. Cameras haven't been allowed in until now.
Over 400 items are made every single week.
On this day workers are cooking up the company's most popular item – the white house rolls.
These delicious little rolls are made from scratch right here.
First step - the dough, mixed for the perfect amount of time, then raised to the ceiling and dropped into this big machine called a divider.
"The divider takes the dough and chunks it into a piece of dough that's the right size and weight."
Each roll is sprinkled with flour, then placed on baking sheets and moved into a hot, humid room where they'll rise for 30 minutes.
It's a perfect assembly line - each roll spaced evenly on the trays and fed into a massive oven.
13 minutes later, they come out a perfect golden brown and then they cool.
The rolls take a ride on a 100 foot conveyor belt to cool off. Then they come into the packaging room. Workers count them out 12 at a time. They have to work really fast.
The workers package 21 dozen rolls a minute before they're put into bags.
They get a click lock with a sell by date, and then they're metal detected and put in baskets to send to stores.
18,000 dozen white house rolls are made every week in the bakery.
And you can expect to see more as Richmond's original roll is now being sold in 30 states and the yummy little treat explodes in popularity across the country.
"It's a unique roll. It's soft sweet yeast roll that's very different from where you can get anywhere else."
The bakery kitchen is open 20 hours a day, six days a week. Ukrop's closes the facility on Sunday, but early Monday mornings, the machines are up and running again.
Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond
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