‘Kwik Tour:’ A behind-the-scenes look at Kwik Trip
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)- Most of us visit or at least drive by a Kwik Trip almost every day. There are now more than 760 stores in communities in four Midwestern states. And the La Crosse-based company continues to expand.
Besides all of the retail stores, Kwik Trip has a massive production facility based on the north side.
Inside a small city of buildings in La Crosse’s Industrial Park, an army is hard at work to bring you the Kwik Trip products you’ve come to know and love.
“Our growth has been crazy from a corporate perspective. We went from 230 co-workers 18 months ago to now we’re well over 500,” said Kwik Trip Production Manager Adam Franck.
In October of 2020, packaged ribs became a new addition to the Kwik Trip menu. “Ribs was on our radar from very early on. We got 10 bone ribs that we use, the pork loins.”
But before they end up in stores, there’s a lengthy process in the production facilities to get them store-ready.
Franck describes what happens, “It’s creating a pouch, putting the barbecue sauce in, workers place the ribs in those packages and then it’s going to go through that machine and vacuum seal it so it’s going to suck all the air out, seal the top layer on it.”
From there the packages of ribs — 216 to be exact — are placed on racks.
“Those racks go onto our tanks on the other side where we got a hot side where you’re cooking at 185 degrees into our water and Sous Vide system. When we Sous Vide it in that package, all of the moisture, I like to say deliciousness, just stays on the rib.”
They cook in the tanks of boiling water for 5 hours. “And then we take temperatures on that. Then it goes over to the cool side where you bring it back down below the 40 degrees and that’s about 2 hours to cool it back down.”
If you’re looking for something more on the lighter side, Kwik Trip is known for its variety of soups.
“We had 2 soup kettles, went to 4 soup kettles so those are 1,000 gallon soup kettles so we can make 4,000 gallons of soup a day now.”
On the day of our tour, broccoli cheddar was simmering in the kettles.
“We have right now around 16 soups. We did trim that back coming into our expansion, just because we couldn’t keep all of them in stock.”
Franck again describes how the soup moves from the kettles to be bagged, “It’s cooked in that room, it comes through those pipes and we can send any kettle to either bagger depending on what’s in them.”
If something to satisfy your sweet tooth is more your thing, the ice cream line is running 14-15 hours a day.
“Five days a week currently. As we ramp up for summer, we’ll definitely be into a 6th and potentially 7th day,” said Production Manager Kyle Schild.
The flavor of the day of our visit, Caramel Toffee Crunch.
“Any inclusions that we would put in, mint chips, this is toffee pieces, Toffee Crunch Day, that all gets injected right into the line as ice cream’s coming through,” said Schild.
“From there it comes over and meets up with our caramel swirl that we’re putting into it and then gets deposited into our containers. From there, it’s going to get a date, go through a metal detection, it’s going to go through a check to make sure we have proper weight and then it’s going to into our spiral freezer.”
Kwik Trip currently produces 25 different flavors. “Any guess on what the most popular flavor is? Vanilla is easily our number one seller,” said Schild.
“We are working on a few new ice creams, I don’t want to leak too much, but we’ve got a good potential one coming out here in the next month.”
So whether it’s ribs, soup, or ice cream and everything in between, they all eventually make their way to the shelves of a Kwik Trip near you.
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