My fiancee is from a little town outside Sheboygan, Wisconsin, roughly 2.5 hours from Chicago. It has abundant cheese, bratwursts, and a fantastic variety of frozen pizza. Before returning to the city, we always stop at Piggly Wiggly for a bag of hard rolls.
Before I travelled to Wisconsin, I didn't know hard rolls existed. I've tried to get them outside of Sheboygan. Outside of Chicago, they're rarer than sport peppers. How are they special?
The hard roll is a yeasted dough that resembles a kaiser roll, but is puffier and has a split top. The hard roll features a solid, elastic surface and a fluffy, soft interior, despite its name. I can't quite describe the hard roll's bready-tangy aroma.
My hard roll description reads like an exaggerated sandwich bun description. Anyone who's had one knows they're special. Irresistible.
The bread is buttered before the hamburger is inserted, and the rolls are hinge-cut instead of entirely sliced.
They also hold bratwursts, which I found humorous because the ends stick out awkwardly. I can't imagine eating a brat any other way because the bun is as delicious as the meat. You rip a hard roll.
Most summer-only mom-and-pop burger businesses utilise hard rolls for everything but hot dogs. Sheboygan hard rolls are a grocery staple. If you're not local, you might miss them because they appear like standard hamburger buns.
Johnston's Bakery and City Bakery both sell hard rolls. Locals prefer one or the other. My fiance insists on West Side Bakery's Fuzzy the Baker hard rolls. Fuzzy died this year, but the rolls bear his name.
As with any fresh-baked food, these firm rolls get stale quickly. After buying, devour them quickly. Add it to Sheboygan's lakefront and hiking forests as another reason to return often. Grab some locally cooked brats and hard rolls before hitting the trip.