Most students know the Danish Maid Bakery because of their 2 a.m. bakery runs at the start of school or during Hell Week. Others know the bakery for the care packages their parents send for their birthday or to help with finals: these are all experiences essential to a Grinnell College degree. But most don’t realize that the business is such a longstanding gem in the community.
Founded by George and Elizabeth Hansen in 1949, the Danish Maid’s pastries quickly became renowned in the town. Bill Hansen, George and Elizabeth’s son, and his wife, Suzi, bought the bakery when his parents decided to retire in 1976, and the business has continued to thrive.
Bill and Suzi, the present brilliant brains behind the Danish Maid Bakery, open the bakery Monday through Saturday from 5:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., which means that you have more than enough time to try every single one of their wonderful baked goods.
Some of these delicious goods include their yummy fried cinnamon rolls, long johns, fudge and iced cookies. But most importantly, their crème-filled coneys are known throughout the state and were named as the Des Moines Register’s “100 Things to Eat Before You Die.” Similar to a long john, the coney is cut down the middle lengthwise and filled with rich crème and frosted on top with either chocolate or vanilla icing (chocolate is my favorite). I’m not entirely sure how, but Danish Maid’s frostings and crèmes defy gravity. They are the lightest and fluffiest that I have ever tasted, melting in your mouth.
Fudge is a holiday staple, and Danish Maid is prepared for your fudgey holiday needs. Cut nice and thick, the fudge is made of delicious milk chocolate and packed full of big nuts (though they make flavors without nuts as well). Unlike some fudge, where you can feel the grain of the sugar in your mouth, Danish Maid’s fudge is so smooth that the chocolate and sugar seem to have melded into one. Additionally, their fudge isn’t sickeningly sweet like some; it has a mild sweetness that allows you to eat more of it before you get a stomachache.
The argument over soft or crunchy cookies is as old as the day is long, but somehow Danish Maid cookies are both at the same time. The edges are perfectly crisp, and the center is soft and chewy. Their iced cookies are beautifully decorated with bright colors, sprinkles and colored sugar, and are cut in fun shapes including some that are seasonable.
They also make wonderful cakes, including their famous pink champagne. So whatever the occasion—birthdays, holidays, Tuesdays—the Danish Maid makes baked goods to fit them all.