A culinary forage into the UP

Jamie Gajewski

The Pasty Koop, located at 135 E. Wisconsin Avenue, has served pasties — made famous by the Upper Peninsula — in its corner store for the past 13 years. In June, Kay and Bill Glass purchased the Koop from its former owner. The couple not only inherited the space and recipes, but also its regulars.
Pasties originated in Cornwall, England where they were consumed by miners.
“It’s a complete meal,” explained Kay. “The pasties stayed warm for a long time so the miners slipped them into their pockets and brought them into the mines.”
Pasties began to rise in the Upper Peninsula once English settlers moved into the area. The settlers continued not only to tunnel deep into the earth in order to extract minerals, but also to consume traditional pasties.
The Pasty Koop offers two sizes of pasties, regular and large, that have a variety of fillings. Another option is the “Yooper,” a pasty that contains 5 pounds of beef and can feed four to six hungry people.
A customer who came into the Koop recommended the beef-and-green-pepper pasty. He described pasties as “a stew within a crust.”
While most of the pasties contained meat, I was pleasantly surprised to see a few vegetarian options as well. In fact, I sampled the garden-with-cheddar pasty, and it was the perfect lunch on a blustery, Appleton day.
Besides fresh-from-the-oven pasties, the Koop offers Yooper-style candies, Baroni’s spaghetti sauce, Vollwerth’s meat products and Trenary Toast.
These products cater to the Koop’s customers, the majority of whom are former Yoopers.
After buying the Pasty Koop from its former owner, Kay repainted and took down a lot of the store’s decorations because of the strangeness of the objects brought in by customers.
However, there are a few Yooper relics still gracing the walls along with a map of the Upper Peninsula.
Kay originally hails from Marquette, Mich. and moved to Wisconsin with her husband when he began looking for another job. Her real passion is baking and she has already begun to sell bars and cookies in the Koop.
She hopes to add more baked goods to the menu soon. Another new addition will be a Web site, allowing people from all over the United States, as well as the world, to enjoy frozen pasties.
Currently, the Koop will complete special orders with 24 hours’ notice. Sometimes these orders can be a bit challenging, such as in the case of a client who cannot have cream.
In the garden pasty, which I enjoyed along with my roommate Nicole, the binding agent is cream of mushroom soup. Needless to say, making pasties has its challenges.
Another customer stopped by for his daily pasty while I was at the Koop. Sliding a pasty punch card smoothly along the counter, he admitted to being a regular, although he was not so set in his ways as to consume the same pasty each visit.
Kay mentioned that her favorite regular is a local police officer, although she did not disclose his name.
The Pasty Koop is open Tuesday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. As winter approaches, instead of staying cooped up, head over to the Pasty Koop for a toasty breakfast, lunch or dinner.