PICAYUNE, MS (WLOX) - Mardi Gras preparations are well underway for one south Mississippi bakery. The dough's flying, the sugar's pouring, and it's go-time at one of South Mississippi's best-known king cake bakeries, Paul's Pastry Shop.
"When we first started making king cakes, we made 15 or 20 a day. We might have made a thousand the whole season," said Sherri Paul Thigpen, owner of the shop.
That level of production was back in the 70s when her family bought an old bakery that took up less than 900 square feet. Now, Paul's Pastry Shop is housed in a 10,000 square foot state-of-the-art cake making dream shop, and produces upwards of 70,000 king cakes every carnival season. That takes a lot of hands and many hours.
"We've got crews working 24 hours a day. We've got the day crew that you see here today. We've got the night crew that starts at six o'clock in the evening, so we just keep things rolling," said Thigpen.
These Mardi Gras pastries come in all kinds of flavors ranging from Bavarian cream to berries and a lot of options in between.
"We call ourselves the home of the original fruit and cream cheese filled king cakes because we were the first bakery to introduce those in 1972," said Thigpen.
A lot has changed since then, including the wide reach of the company. The king cakes that come out of this kitchen are shipped to every state in the country, and the customers include more than 50 retailers.
"I just love being a part of making something and having such a great team that makes something that makes people happy," said Thigpen.
Thigpen and her team make king cakes all year round, but really ramp up their efforts right after the new year.