Live Q&A: Doughnuts with Author Paul Mullins

Listen to Liane Hansen's WEB only interview with author Paul Mullins

Davar Iran Ardalan Senior Producer

Let's try this! Beginning at 8:00 a.m. ET on Sunday, August 31, the author of a new book on the history of the donut will be at his computer ready to respond to your questions and comments right here on Soapbox. His name is Paul Mullins, and he is the author of "Glazed America: A History of the Doughnut." Mullins is an anthropologist at Indiana University - Purdue University, Indianapolis. Make sure you click above and listen to Liane Hansen's web-only interview with Mullins and post your question or comment below and we will consider posing it to Paul Mullins. We will then post the question as well as the answer right here! Finally note that some of the first questions posted below come from the questions you asked earlier - Paul Mullins is answering them LIVE this morning.

8:00 a.m. First question from Rob Rynski: I was visiting Santa Cruz Boardwalk this weekend and saw the deep fried Twinkie stand - a fairly common sight these days on the Funway. No I did not eat one. But, I immediately thought: "This is just a cream filled doughnut." Would a deep fried Twinkie qualify as a doughnut?

PAUL MULLINS: The answer here depends on how we actually define doughnuts. If at its heart a doughnut is fried flour, then plenty of chefs over millennia have made doughnuts, albeit not in the familiar torus shaped form we associate with doughnuts. Some baker or strict doughnut fan certainly will correct us based on the flour and ingredients in a Twinkie as well as preparation, but perhaps we could broadly place deep-fried Twinkies in a spectrum of treat foods that includes doughnuts. We get deep-fried Twinkies here at Indiana's state fair, they're surprisingly edible.

Note: Click below to follow the live blog

8:10 a.m. Question from Sam: How long do the big US donut shops keep donuts on the shelves? I'm in Seoul, South Korea, and Dunkin and Krispie Kreme both seem to have terribly stale donuts, no matter when I get them.

PAUL MULLINS: Most doughnuts at the local grocery stay on the shelves as long as any other bakery goods, but for lots of us a doughnut has lost most of its charm once it cools off, and depending on preparation they can get a little dense by day's end. Some 19th century folks made doughnuts and took them on long trips because they were reputed to last indefinitely, but most of us associate bakery goods with freshness now, so no store doughnut is going to ever hold a candle to even the worst hot doughnut.

8:26 a.m. Question from Rebecca Bond: What has more pull-power than a simple doughnut? Can one doughnut start a small-town revolution?

PAUL MULLINS: I don't know if its the doughnut per se that has pull as much as a doughnut shop. My own sense is that many of the most popular doughnuts trade heavily on their shops and the social atmosphere of a particular shop has and the relationships a baker creates with local consumers. The right small-town doughnut joint can become an institution and be at the heart of local identity if it builds itself correctly, and there are doughnut places (and lots of similar food venues) all over rural America and big cities alike.

8:44 a.m. Question from Eric Solomon: Someone once told me it takes a week for a doughnut to be cleaned out of your system. Is this true?

PAUL MULLINS: Yikes. I am not appropriately trained to define "cleaned out"! My guess is this is a mechanism doughnut detractors wield to perhaps over-emphasize the impact of doughnut consumption when a more measured position would probably advocate some reasonable restraint instead of suggesting they're embedded in us for the week if not longer. I don't think that most of us respond all that well to such counsel.

8:50 a.m. Question from Diana Gale: How did the idea that police frequent donut shops get started?

PAUL MULLINS: The most common argument is that cops and doughnut makers share odd night-time hours, with bakeries typically needing to open in the middle of the night to bake the day's wares and crime never taking time off; many doughnut shops simply stay open around the clock if they don't open at the earliest dawn hours, so the police often started to frequent doughnut shops since there were few other options for late-night breaks (and doughnut shops normally have strong coffee alongside the inexpensive and filling snack). Some doughnut shops even today encourage officers to spend their breaks in a shop (though virtually no police force allows officers to take free doughnuts, and some forces have even drawn codes against officers consuming doughnuts on duty because of caricatures and the health effects of doughnut consumption). Doughnut shops reputedly have an extraordinarily low rate of burglaries, though this is a little hard to verify.

9:00 a.m. Question from Gabrielle: Do do(ugh)nuts vary by region, like, say, pizza or hot dogs? If so, what are the hallmarks of a New York donut? Are these regional variances being lost to national chains (dunkin d)?

PAUL MULLINS: Doughnuts were regionalized in the 19th century, with local doughnut recipes differing based mostly on the sorts of local flour and other ingredients available to doughnut makers; one 1877 Ohio cookbook advocated using "clarified meat drippings" in place of lard, and one Kentucky recipe even used whiskey. Since New Yorkers can claim a Dutch heritage in which the doughnut's earliest New World variants are firmly entrenched, it could reasonably be argued that some New York doughnut recipes still owe something to the heritage, but it is a little hard for me to see today. Much of that regionalization was gradually eroded by mechanization and then chain standardization that picked up steam from 1920 into the 1940s. Krispy Kreme stakes a claim to a Southern heritage and a fondness for especially sweet doughnuts, and Dunkin says much the same about their products and northern roots, but chain doughnuts are quite standardized, and given the sorts of mass-marketed flours made by even local doughnut producers the regionalization of doughnuts is certainly much less marked than it was even in 1920.

9:06 a.m. Question from James: I think some of the most unique and original doughnuts come from the Doughnut Plant in NYC. I was in Japan and saw a Doughnut Plant there, but why aren't there more in NY or the US?

PAUL MULLINS: James, the Doughnut Plant in Japan is part of the chain based in New York, and the Grand Street is I believe their only American store. Doughnut Plant is part of a new wave of doughnut makers who stress creativity, novel ingredients, and an exceptional product that breaks from the stereotype of doughnuts as oil-laden rings. Its an idea that likely would work outside New York City, so your guess is as good as mine to how they're thinking through their expansion and why they targeted Japan as opposed to other American markets.

9:16 a.m. Question from Ed Rock: On doughnut shops, locally the individual shops have disappeared over the last 20 years and convenience stores have started doughnut bakeries inside the shop. A fresh donut is important, but so is the social scene where you eat it. I don't like this development and think it weakens society—is this wide-spread?

PAUL MULLINS: Doughnut chains will argue—not without some cause—that their shops can still be meaningful social spaces in the same way as a local owner-operator bakery. I agree that one of the most magnetic dimensions of doughnut consumption is doughnut shops themselves, and those producers who attempted to expand their profits by selling their products in the local grocery have not met with all that much success. Obviously to some extent this is happening in food marketing outside doughnuts, but my own feeling is that the sway of a monolithic chain like McDonalds is radically different in scale if not effect over the largest doughnut chains, led by Dunkin'. I still think there is a broad landscape of local doughnut makers that value and understand the consumption environment of their shops and the relationships they have with community consumers. Nevertheless, I agree with your point that standardization in these consumer venues—every Dunkin' looks pretty much the same, staff behave the same, and the food is utterly uniform and does not change without corporate decision-makers—does radically diminish our experience. Some people may like that profound predictability of eating in a chain, but obviously many of us do not.

9:20 a.m. Question from Larry: What interesting variations on the doughnut theme have you found in other cultures?

PAUL MULLINS: I think the most interesting thing is less the myriad variations than simply the fact that every cuisine has fried flour in some form. The sweet fried flours did not begin to be produced until the Crusaders introduced sugar to Europeans. There are a ton of interesting and Latin American fried foods today that are cousins to the American doughnut, including some very tasty Brazilian pastry puffs, and they're worth seeking out if you can find them.

Note from Davar - Senior Producer: Great questions!!! Paul you're doing a great job - thanks!

9:27 a.m. Question from Liz: Yesterday my partner woke up and said she wanted doughnuts for breakfast. I looked on line to see if there was any place that sold fresh doughnuts. In Philadelphia, PA where I live there is a chain called Fresh Donuts. I called one Fresh Donuts and they didn't even know what I meant! I couldn't find any real freshly made doughnuts. Krispy Kremes is gone — there doughnuts were good hot and much too heavy when cooled off. Any suggestions?

PAUL MULLINS: Liz, I don't know the doughnut landscape in Philadelphia, but in many cities doughnut makers faced with stiff rents typically need to sell more than doughnuts to make a reasonable profit, so increasingly more independent doughnut shops are really diversified bakeries. Doughnut shops are relatively cheap to set up (at least by business standards) but selling doughnuts alone requires a really predictable and steady consumer base. The chains and even some local bakers have turned to retail sales to try to expand their profits, but many face your feeling that a cold doughnut is not a very special food.

9:36 a.m. Question from Karen: Hello...Jelly donuts and Chanukah are linked together for me...I was wondering the history of this?

PAUL MULLINS: My understanding (and please feel free to correct or clarify this) is that sufganiyot commemorates the miracle of the oil following the defeat of the Greeks, when a single day's oil was needed to kindle the Temple Menorah and it miraculously lasted eight days. Hanukkah foods like jelly doughnuts (sufganiyah) and potato latkes fried in oil commemorate that event.

9:46 a.m. Question from Mark: Paul, did your interest in doughnuts start where you grew up or did it wait until your college days? Having been born in Winston-Salem (NC) I can say that doughnuts were ubiquitous...like BBQ, a staple?

PAUL MULLINS: Mark, I grew up in Krispy Kreme country (Richmond, Virginia) and there weren't many doughnut shops around, so I think I found them to be distinctive if not special places in a way that burger chains and even ubiquitous Southern BBQ places were not. What actually attracted me to the subject as research was that people had such strongly drawn sentiments about doughnuts and their local shops/favored chain and most people had strong nostalgia and deeply held feelings about their doughnut consumption experiences that are not common to most mass-consumed foods. It just helped a lot that I like doughnuts!

10:15 a.m. Question from Weekend Edition's own Liane Hansen: Paul, have you heard of the Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheeseburger?

www.slashfood.com/photos/krispy-kreme-burgers-from-around-the-world/1004924/

PAUL MULLINS: My sense is that this dish is a clever comment on how doughnut consumption often willingly breaks with body disciplines, but in this case it wraps every possible vice into a single dish: a fried doughnut, a slab of red meat, fried pork, and potentially some calorie-rich condiments all slathered onto one item. It probably would be worth the story later on to eat one with a public audience to testify to your supreme vice. Its not clear if that story would be sufficiently funny to be worth the potential unpleasantness after eating it.

10:25 a.m. Question from Fred (posted on earlier blog): Are donuts consumed more on a regional basis? It seems While in Boston there was a donut shop on every corner while here in California they are few and far between. Is there some connection between climate and consumption?

PAUL MULLINS: Some Canadians swear there is a link between environment and doughnut consumption, suggesting that doughnuts are a cold weather food especially well adapted to Canadian life, but California has among the highest per capita density of doughnut shops of anywhere on the planet (and this per capita doughnut shop issue is always disputed between places like Hamilton, Ontario, Boston, and LA, the three places that most often lay claim to being the biggest doughnut markets in the world). There is not very good reason to connect environment to doughnuts, or for that matter to many foods since we can be socialized to eat a vast range of foods in almost any environmental context. I think the bigger influence is often car commuting patterns, since doughnut marketers often do especially well in contexts like southern California that are home to numerous car commuters. Yet even some places that are not so wedded to the car make friendly homes to doughnut markets, and some car commuting communities don't always work out for doughnut sellers, so there's not any single factor that determines the success of doughnut shops. That being said, it cannot hurt if a community believes their environmental setting is ideal for the doughnut and fits within a broader sense of place and self, since we do place both environment and foods at the heart of our self-perceived community identities.

10:50 a.m. Question from Jack Pollard (posted on earlier blog): "...As an employee of KK for 10 years until 1980 and a franchaisee from 80-87 when the company had approximately 50 KK outlets, I have seen KK grow very rapidly and fall very rapidly (based on my small amount of stock) The rapid growth looked great 8 years ago but rapid growth requires potential franchaisees with access to big money and these people are not likely to spend any time working in the donut shop. The big money people were probably required to purchase an entire territory and open X number of shops, and in some cases more than the territory could support profitably...."

PAUL MULLINS: Every chain preaches its exclusivity, and all of the major food chains have programs in place to monitor the quality of the product and the way every store impacts broader brand identity. Krispy Kreme was hurt first by a buyout in 1982 in which franchisees purchased the chain back (it had been purchased after founder Vernon Rudolph's death by Beatrice Foods); they subsequently expanded the number of outlets in the mid-1990s and began selling in groceries and convenience stores, which in some minds diluted the brand by taking away the "magic" of a store visit; and they then had internal management problems that eventually led to changes in the highest levels of the chain. Dunkin' has expanded rapidly in some communities using the formula Jack views warily, having a single franchisee or a few folks open a series of stores in a single community, which turns over each store to managers and staff who may have less commitment to the chain and store than a single owner-operator, and the chains are always trying to balance their desire to manage chain expansion and brand symbolism with the belief that they can always find some way to increase profit.

11:18 a.m. Question from Kate: In parts of New England, sprinkles are called "jimmies." What is the origin of this term?

PAUL MULLINS: In my experience the terms sprinkles and jimmies are relatively interchangeable by consumers (manufacturers tend to be more specific in distinguishing between ingredients), though sometimes rainbow jimmies are the multi-colored version and the single chocolate version are just jimmies. In the 1890s linguists were already developing detailed etymologies the range of fried foods in New England, which extended well beyond just crullers and doughnuts, so New Englanders have an especially rich heritage of regionalizing the terms used for their foods and ingredients. I don't see "jimmies" in the Oxford English Dictionary yet (!), so we'll have to wait for somebody to provide a conclusive origin for the term.

11:25 a.m. Question from John: Do you object to the spelling of doughnut as donut?

PAUL MULLINS: John, yes this is a sticky question, but for the purposes of standardization I simply settled on doughnuts, largely because this was the spelling most commonly embraced in the 19th century, becoming a single word in a handful of cookbooks in the 1830s and becoming more commonplace by mid-century. The donut spelling does not appear until the 20th century, and the reasons for its emergence are not completely clear to me. It is the most common spelling on the vast number of roadside neon signs that went up across the country in the 1950s, and the prevailing sentiment seems to be that this was because it occupies fewer letters and allows for larger letters on a sign, easier reading while in a car, and cheaper production.

11:28 a.m. Paul Mullins reacting to a posting from Judy Dunn. Here is Judy's posting: My doughnut memory goes back to the 1960's, as a little girl, visiting my grandparents in Queens, NY. Sometimes, on Sunday morning, after attending church, we would stop at a bakery and get a box of donuts. On a few special occasions, I was able to go along on the trip to the bakery. It was a crowded and busy space. I now stand over 6' tall, but I can still remember that sense of looking up, and standing on my toes to try and see the donuts.
Things were happening at such a rapid speed. Orders being shouted over the counter, money being exchanged. I was entranced by the white boxes that the donuts were put inside. They were quickly locked together by the person behind the counter. An assortment of donuts were piled into the box. Jelly donuts, powdered sugar, plain, cruellers, and cream filled. And then a string was rapidly wrapped around the box and tied. It made a perfect handle to carry the treasures home. And, it kept us from breaking into the box until we were back at my grandparents house. The jelly donuts were like no other I had experienced. They were slightly warm. The sugar granules added a little gritty texture as I bit into the donut. Then there was the thin layer of crust on the outside of the donut, that easily gave way to the cake of donut, from which the jelly would spill out. Sweet, warm, delicious. I have never had jelly donuts as wonderful as those donuts I had as a child, visiting my grandparents. Thank you for letting me remember a precious moment from my childhood!

PAUL MULLINS REFLECTION: Judy's story is typical of doughnut stories in a series of ways, because the story is a memory of how a food like doughnuts became a part of specific social contexts like church, and the doughnut shop itself is "special" in terms of both when we frequent the shop (i.e., after church, little league games, with grandparents, etc) and in terms of its distinctive environment; Judy remembers all the finest material details of the shop and all the personal relationships associated with doughnuts, and that's common for our most prized foodways settings and really common for doughnut consumers. Thanks.

11:32 a.m. Question from Jim: What's the truth about donuts being invented by two sisters who fed Pony Express riders on the run so the riders could hold on to them better?

PAUL MULLINS: I don't know this particular tale, but several doughnut origination myths conclude that the reason for the torus shape with a hole in the center was for ease of handling the doughnut; e.g., one story is that the doughnut's inventor was a ship's captain who place doughnuts on the wheel, and many drivers agree that the doughnut's form allows for multi-tasking, so the Pony Express story seems to fit in that genre of stories.

12:33 p.m. Paul Mullins reacting to a posting from Barb. Here is Barb's posting: Somehow my future husband jokingly got the idea that a good test of [my] cooking ability would be doughnuts, so the Thanksgiving week before he left for overseas military duty, I got out my mom's cookbook and deep fryer and made them for him. Actually, they were "fried cakes." After the combination of my mom's Thanksgiving feast and those doughnuts, he could barely get his uniform belt buckled. I've never made doughnuts since and we've been married 43 years, but we still count them are one of my memorable culinary achievements.

PAUL MULLINS REFLECTION: Like Barb, few chefs regardless of their skill make doughnuts at home very often, because it is a bit of a mess with all the oil and flour, and like lots of baking and pastry-production it takes real decision-making. When doughnut machines were introduced that fried large quantities of doughnuts and eventually even formed them without
human intervention, this made doughnut production increasingly attractive to bakers. Since lots of other chefs had Barb's experience—they were good, sure, but it was probably a little challenging and a kitchen mess, especially alongside turkey and Thanksgiving fixings—the mass marketing of doughnuts was quickly successful and has never been seriously challenged by home production. In contrast, we can make a hamburger at home, and even a marginal chef can make a pretty delicious hamburger, but a cheap, quick, and delicious homemade doughnut that doesn't turn your kitchen into a disaster of flour and grease is much more challenging.

1:19 p.m. Question from Chrystine Lee: I have noticed that there are a lot of stores labeled "chinese food and donuts". I find the thought somewhat repulsive. Where did this unlikely combination come from? Is this a nationwide thing?

PAUL MULLINS: For most Americans this is indeed a distinctive combination, though plenty of our foodways must appear plenty strange as well, so to some extent it simply matters what we're socialized to see as acceptable. This combination is vastly more commonplace on the West Coast and not often heard of at all in the East, and this probably reflects the density of both doughnut shops and Chinese-style restaurants on the West Coast. Some merchants serving Asian foods made the decision to expand lunch and dinner service to the whole day and simply added a relatively inexpensive food, and many ambitious merchants are not at all deterred by the assumption that their enterprises should focus on one particular service, food, or class of goods, and some Bay area shops sell doughnuts, over-the-counter medications, Chinese food, and whatever else they can sell profitably in their neighborhood.

1:21 p.m. Question from Cosmo: How do you consider the Buttermilk Bar? We call it "the doughnut that is not a doughnut", and it's our favorite.

PAUL MULLINS: I've never actually had a buttermilk bar; their fans swear by the discernible buttermilk flavor, but my taste buds cannot quite imagine this flavor and scent. They seem to be a little more common in the West, but I may simply be missing all the other regional versions.

2:00 p.m. Question from Cosmo: How do you consider the Buttermilk Bar? We call it "the doughnut that is not a doughnut", and it's our favorite.

PAUL MULLINS: I''ve never actually had a buttermilk bar; their fans swear by the discernible buttermilk flavor, but my taste buds cannot quite imagine this flavor and scent. They seem to be a little more common in the West, but I may simply be missing all the other regional versions.

2:01 p.m. Question from Garth Johnson: I lived in Orange County for a while where it seemed there was a doughnut shop on every corner. The donuts all seemed the same, regardless of the shop. Do they all use the same pre-made dough?

PAUL MULLINS: Doughnut shops and bakers tend to closely guard the secret of precisely what flour they use and where they procure that flour, since even today the difference in various flours can be quite significant, and it was once even more magnified. Chains dispense pre-mixed flours that are simply dumped into machines and made through a very tightly controlled and predictable process, and many independent bakeries purchase these premixed flours. Adolph Levitt's Doughnut Corporation of America was perhaps the most influential of the early doughnut manufacturers who produced consistent premixed flours and sold doughnut machines to his Mayflower Doughnuts franchisees, but many of the craft bakeries now have local suppliers who provide a distinctive flour that tastes quite unlike the ready-prepared flours.

Note from Davar Iran Ardalan, Senior Producer: A big round of applause to Author Paul Mullins for spending his morning and early afternoon with us here on Soapbox. And kudos to all of YOU for your great questions! We will try this format with other authors in the future. Have a great Labor Day Weekend!!!

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My father, now a retired mailman, would still get up early on Sundays and go out to get a box of doughnuts (often Dunkin' Donuts); then the family would go play tennis or take part in a soccer tournament. My mother was not a fan of doughnut consumption, yet it was hard to argue with those colorful boxes of sweet. (We also could reprise this routine with the occasional box of bakery cookies). My favorite doughnut memory, however, also combines sports and doughnuts: during the height of the NASL, the National American Soccer League, our family and a friend's family had season tickets to the Rowdies. Late when the game ended, we'd leave the stadium and drive to the old Krispy Kreme, at that hour flirting on not being a "family-friendly" restaurant, to share hot doughnuts and try to time it just right to get home to watch the goal highlights on the evening news sports segment. The colors of the Rowdies - yellow, green, and white - were the colors of inside the Krispy Kreme and my brother and I would like to sit at the large round yellow table in the center of the joint and gently swing on the swivel chairs. Eating doughnuts and playing sports seemed completely consistent to me at the time and we were all slim and fit, if perhaps feeling mildly guilty as we had our two-doughnut limit.
I've already had my detox tea this morning and had resolved to start another hardcore cleanse....but this story (thank you) is giving me the idea that really on a holiday weekend it would be great to walk up to my local convenience store to buy two sugary Krispy Kreme doughnuts and then go for a sunny Sunday morning jog. I won't feel like I did when I was 10, and will laugh at myself for caving to the nostalgia, but the cleanse can start tomorrow. I'll be looking for some green and yellow to don for the jog as well. GOOOOOOAL!

Sent by FLAPROF | 8:38 AM | 8-31-2008

During senior year, my high school class held weekly fundraisers: every Friday, an enterprising classmate would purchase a few dozen doughnuts (there were only 33 members in my graduating class) and sell them to us and to hungry teachers. Proceeds went to our Social Service Committee. At our fortieth reunion dinner this year, a large box of Dunkin' Donuts held a place of honor at the buffet table - a reminder of our tasty custom from years ago.

Sent by Peyton | 9:09 AM | 8-31-2008

as kid in Los Angeles, the owner of a local pool hall claimed he invented the strange cast iron gizmo that created the donuts. our local donut place had such a machine close to the counter so you could see the donuts being made.

Sent by eliot | 9:14 AM | 8-31-2008

Hi,
Just this past week my husband and I realized we had used up our supply of wild blueberries. Much to our horror, we thought of a long New England winter without the joy of pancakes and a warm burst of blueberries exploding in our mouths. We hadn't much time, but were lucky to find a farm in NH and to our delight we were able to pick from bushes exploding with gracious offerings! We were able to fill a five gallon bucket in two hours. (that should do us!) As we drove home we imagined the goodies we would enjoy. Blueberries pancakes, muffins, pies, we would add blueberries to our morning cereal and afternoon yogurt and watch the snow fall. Just the other day I wondered if we could make doughnuts, I remember the famous franchise that made a blueberries doughnut with a clear sugar glaze that was truly sinful! I would love to know how to make the glaze, as I am sure I could adjust my apple doughnut recipe to accommodate our summer jewels. When I heard NPR this morning I could not help myself but remember "my" favorite, the blueberry doughnut. If I could get a recipe for the glaze, I confess, I will have to submit to the simple pleasure of a homemade doughnut!
Sandy Knight

Sent by Sandy Knight | 9:19 AM | 8-31-2008

Your story this morning made me think back to my Boy Scout days in the mid 60's at Ten Mile River (TMR) boy scout camp in Narrowsburg, NY. A popular hiking destination was a place called the Donut Farm.

from
http://www.riverreporter.com/issues/07-07-12/feature.html
"Today, the tidy blue house along Route 97 not far from the Ten Mile River Scout Camps (TMR) is simply the quaint home of Margaret Soller's daughter, Beulah, now in her 90s. But prior to its closing in the mid-70s, the Donut House bustled with boy scouts and camp personnel who made regular journeys to its kitchen to sample Soller's steaming donuts and other delights prepared there. And though the days of the Donut House are over, there may soon be an opportunity to taste, once again, the old-timey treat at the upcoming celebration of the 80th Anniversary of the TMR Camp on July 14 and 15."

Mike Arm
Herndon, Va.

Sent by Michael Arm | 9:27 AM | 8-31-2008

Are donuts consumed more on a regional basis. It seems While in Boston there was a donut shop on every corner while here in California they are few and far between. Is there some connection between climate and consumption.

Sent by Fred | 9:31 AM | 8-31-2008

Thanks for reminding me of my childhood love of donuts. When we lived in Phoenix during WWII, we would transfer from one bus to another. At the transfer point there was a donut shop and in there window was a mechnical donut frying machine. To a 5 year old this was magic. watching the machine was better than eating the donuts.

Sent by Marcia Rose | 9:44 AM | 8-31-2008

I grew up in Worcester, MA, and remember fondly Cottage Doughnuts' cinnamon rolls. They were made with a sweet honey glaze, a bit of citrus, plenty of cinnamon flavor, and a smooth low domed top that gave them, I think, a soft, bready texture inside. We would vacation in southern coastal Maine, and many years at Wells Beach where a special treat I always loved was a warm cinnamon doughnut from Congdon's. The best!

Sent by Mark Balcom-Wolf | 9:45 AM | 8-31-2008

One day in the late 80's while driving to work, I heard an ad on the radio announcing that the local Dunkin' Donuts in our N. Florida town was offering an 'all you can eat' special for their 'eat-in' counter-customers. The thought of being able to pick out not only your favorite donut flavor, but to freely experiment with less familiar temptations sounded intriguing, but what really excited me was the thought of my 6 and 7 year old daughters sharing the adventure of eating donuts to their hearts content, without the usual restrictions of sharing a dozen between all the family members on those special occasions when we made a Saturday morning run to the donut shop. Later that week, the perfect opportunity arose- schools were closed for a teachers work-day and we had the afternoon to ourselves to go to the beach while Mom caught up on some errands. Hungry and almost dry, we walked into the Dunkin' Donuts shop and hopped up onto the stools while the few retirement age locals looked on approvingly. I responded to the request for our orders with, "3 milks and the all you can eat special!" My daughters chins dropped and their eyes opened as big as a glazed with sprinkles. I was surprised their little bellies couldn't hold more than one or two more donuts than they typically ate at home, but their excitment in choosing the next donut from the rainbow of flavors and stopping only when they were full was priceless. None of us had dinner that night, we just sat and talked and giggled about the great donut feast, the favorites and least favorite flavors alike- while Mom looked on, shaking her head.

Sent by Rick Bartley | 9:47 AM | 8-31-2008

My friend Louisa, of Pennsylvania German extraction, invited me to join her to make (and eat) fastnachts. They are raised doughnuts made to eat before the beginning of the fast of Lent. In my friend's family they are always served with Lyon's cane syrup. Delicious!!

Sent by Liz | 9:48 AM | 8-31-2008

Fav donut memory: My friend and I are 9 years old. We save milk money all week....then when the Hellman's Bakery truck comes through Sunday am....we buy a dozen donuts AND EAT THEM ALL IN ONE SITTING!

Sent by Ruth Hansen | 9:49 AM | 8-31-2008

When we first moved to the U.S. from England, I was six and had barely heard of such a thing as a doughnut. Very quickly, my brother and father and I became quite excited at the thought of getting up on a Saturday morning, heading to Dunkin' Donuts, and picking up a dozen favorites, along with "one for the road" - our choice of one doughnut in that ubiquitous wax paper bag to eat on the way home (even though home was usually less than 5 minutes away). Mine was always either the blueberry glazed or an apple fritter; my brother usually went with a jelly donut and Dad would spend a few minutes debating the merits of any number of choices before making his selection. The donuts became part of my memories of growing up in Chicago, Minneapolis and Philadelphia - part of Saturday morning youth soccer games, sleepover parties and winter mornings watching the snow fall outside our kitchen window. When I moved to Atlanta, I was introduced to Krispy Kreme - one of the original stores is right there on North Avenue near downtown - and now I always tell people that on a visit to Atlanta they have to go and watch the doughnuts on the conveyor belt at Krispy Kreme! My father will also tell you that his memories of doughnuts always include the time that he went to our local Dunkin' Donuts one Saturday morning, only to find it closed because someone had recently come in and held up the store, and in doing so, had shot the doughnuts! That always creates quite a visual for those listening to the story...

Today, doughnuts don't fit into my lifestyle - at least not with any sense of regularity. But every once in a while, I have to indulge in the memories, walk into the shop full of the scent of sugar and dough, and say, "One apple fritter, please".

Sent by Victoria Littler | 9:49 AM | 8-31-2008

with a grandfather who was one of the first Krispy Kreme franchaisees in the 1950s, I worked for three summers in Charleston, SC as a 9, 10,11 year old. Those were the days of the Real KK's.
Fried peach and apple pies made from dried fruit, the most deliscious yeast raised donuts ever(cut by hand and caught on the cutter's thumb seven dough morsels at a time). Awsome cake donuts with cinn sugarl, pow sugar and coconut and peanut. Sadly, KK appears to have gone away from the old cake donut recipe in the last 10 years. KK does not have the delicisous variety of cake donuts as it used to.

When the donut mix manufacturing plant in WinstonSalem, NC could not produce enough of the 100 pound bags of yeast donut flour, the franchaisees were intermittently forced to go back to the original recipe of cracked whole eggs, summer and winter wheat mixed, yeast, and other ingredients. I have the original formula on stationery with the KK logo and my grandfather's signature on both sides of the paper acknowledging receipt of the formula for emergencies...obivously the hand made formula had the imcomparable taste of the handmade KK donut. The current day fomula is not hand cut but extruded out of a pressurized tank 2,4,6 or eight yeast raised donuts at a time and put through a rising process for a prescribed amount of time before plopping into the fry vat for cooking.
Kripsy Kreme still has the most deliscious Yeast Raised donut on the market. Their cake donuts, as I said, are changed, and not as good in my opinion. Dunkin Donuts has very good cakedonuts and inferior yeast raised for my Southern taste. Perhaps others to the north do not agree. In the late 1950)s and early 1960)s donuts were a "nickel each, six for a quarter, fifty cents a dozen and a nickel extra per dozen for filled donuts" our old time mantra to our customer.
As an employee of KK for 10 years until 1980 and a franchaisee from 80-87 when the company had approximately 50 KK outlets, I have seen KK grow very rapidly and fall very rapidly (based on my small amount of stock) The rapid growth looked great 8 years ago but rapid growth requires potential franchaisees with access to big money and these people are not likely to spend any time working in the donut shop. The big money people were probably required to purchase an entire territory and open X number of shops, and in some cases more than the territory could support profitably.
As a current McDonald's franchaisee, KK could have taken a look at McDonald's requirement of the average franchaisee:
1. enough equity to put towards a down payment (without using your home or property as part of that equity).
2. a rigorous 1 to 2 year training program working nights and weekends in a McDonald's restaurant without pay (while working your full time job)and being required to attend 4 different week long classes during the training period to include Hamburger University.
After working extremely hard, you are told at the end of each class that your excellent score DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU ARE GOING TO BE A MCDONALD'S FRANCHAISEE. Upon completion of Hamburger University, only with an excellent score, you are then offered a franchaise.
3.franchaisee is sold only ONE restaurant in which to work day and night massaging and growing your business. Excellent inspection scores, sales growth and profitability
earn you the right for more restaurants.
If Krispy Kreme had seen this success formula, perhaps the company would be much smaller with more successful, profitable outlets.
classes including Hamburger University

Sent by Jack Pollard | 9:53 AM | 8-31-2008

As a child in Albion, Michigan, in the 1960s, after doing some chore for my grandmother, I would spend part of my earnings at the bakery downtown on Superior Avenue.

The jelly-filled doughnuts with white icing were my favorite. They also had lemon-filled doughnuts.

I regret, because of the decline the Albion has undergone over the past 20 years, the bakery is no longer there.

Still, I have these wonderful memories.

Sent by Albert C. Jones | 10:01 AM | 8-31-2008

Our daughter Miriam was a student at Pomona College in Claremont, CA in the late 1990s, and when we came for a visit, she and her friends introduced us to one of their favorite treats: Krispy Kreme donuts. When she finished college, she joined the Peace Corps and went to volunteer in the Pacific island nation of Samoa. She learned Samoan language and culture, and lived and ate mostly like her Samoan neighbors and coworkers - lots of tropical fruit and fish, breadfruit and taro. Every week or two, when she could spare the time, she biked to the capital, Apia, which at that time had one Internet cafe and one McDonalds - but no place to get a decent donut.

Halfway through her two-year assignment, my husband and I were fortunate enough to be able to go to Samoa for a couple of weeks and get a glimpse of Miriam's life there. We wanted to bring her a "care package" of items unavailable in Samoa, but with the long distance to be traveled and the realities of airport waiting times and changing planes, the door-to-door trip from our home in Minnesota to her little house in Samoa took almost 24 hours. The solution? We insulated a hard-sided suitcase with some plastic-wrapped clothing and packed it with frozen food, including some of my home-made cookies and bread, a kosher salami - and a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts.

I don't know if that's a long-distance delivery record for a box of donuts, but they were still safely frozen when we arrived. Miriam suspected something strange as soon as she met us at the airport, because that suitcase was cold to the touch and sweating in the tropical heat! When we unpacked the goodies in her little kitchen, she was duly appreciative of everything we'd brought, but her face really lit up with delight at the sight of the Krispy Kremes. She shared some of the food we'd brought with other Peace Corps volunteers within a few weeks, but she kept the donuts in the freezer section of her refrigerator and strictly rationed them out, so that she was able to enjoy them for several months after we left. Not as good as the fresh, hot donuts she'd come to love as a college student, but still a comfort food from home.

Sent by Marguerite Krause | 10:19 AM | 8-31-2008

While on my walk this morning I listen to the 'donut' story which reminded me of many years ago when my sister and I were quite young. We lived by the Dixie Creame store. We saved our pennies and when we had saved a total of seven cents, we were at the store purchasing two donuts. What a treat!
Don't live near any donut store now and am quite sure there would be no donuts sold at that price. But wow were they GREAT.

Sent by Pat Hartman | 10:22 AM | 8-31-2008

When I was in college, the Red Cross would always serve Duncan Donuts at their quarterly blood drives in the student center. I gave blood as often as I could and always wolfed down two or three glazed, jelly or crumb donuts afterwards -- totally guilt free because, after all, I'd just lost a pint of blood. At some point in my junior year, the Red Cross started serving Oreos instead of Duncan Donuts. I suddenly lost my enthusism for giving blood, although I continued to do my duty - but less frequently and with less gusto. I realized that the real attraction all along had been the guilt-free donuts.

Sent by Katey Downs | 10:30 AM | 8-31-2008

My doughnut memory goes back to the 1960's, as a little girl, visiting my grandparents in Queens, NY. Sometimes, on Sunday morning, after attending church, we would stop at a bakery and get a box of donuts. On a few special occasions, I was able to go along on the trip to the bakery.
It was a crowded and busy space. I now stand over 6' tall, but I can still remember that sense of looking up, and standing on my toes to try and see the donuts.
Things were happening at such a rapid speed. Orders being shouted over the counter, money being exchanged. I was entranced by the white boxes that the donuts were put inside. They were quickly locked together by the person behind the counter. An assortment of donuts were piled into the box. Jelly donuts, powdered sugar, plain, cruellers, and cream filled. And then a string was rapidly wrapped around the box and tied. It made a perfect handle to carry the treasures home. And, it kept us from breaking into the box until we were back at my grandparents house.
The jelly donuts were like no other I had experienced. They were slightly warm. The sugar granules added a little gritty texture as I bit into the donut. Then there was the thin layer of crust on the outside of the donut, that easily gave way to the cake of donut, from which the jelly would spill out. Sweet, warm, delicious. I have never had jelly donuts as wonderful as those donuts I had as a child, visiting my grandparents.
Thank you for letting me remember a precious moment from my childhood!

Sent by Judy Dunn | 10:48 AM | 8-31-2008

My favorite doughnut story is from my best friend who is turkish, more than 20 years ago. Turgay explained one night how when he was working in New York City, he was standing in a deli line trying to figure out how to pronounce doughnut. People were getting antsy, so he thought "if tough is tuff, and rough is ruff then it must be duff-nut."

Sent by Adrienne Nemura | 11:03 AM | 8-31-2008

peoples donuts
vegan donuts made by hand delivered by bicycle skateboard punks!!!
http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=9821327

Sent by becka shertzer | 11:03 AM | 8-31-2008

My father in-law would leave doughnuts on our front porch every Sunday morning for our two young kids. He got the nickname 'Poppa Doughnuts'.

Sent by Ray Perkins | 11:03 AM | 8-31-2008

Two stories:

Growing up in Boston, we would go to Dunkin' Donuts after church on Sunday. When I moved to NY in the 70's, I discovered that most NYers ate bagels on Sunday, and wondered whether it was a fact that all cultures ate round things with holes in them on Sunday morning.....

Second, I have an elderly aunt in Italy who cooks like a 4 star chef. She visited the US years ago, and on a recent visit, told me the one thing she missed about the US were Doo-nuts!

Sent by Mac | 11:06 AM | 8-31-2008

As a young mother, I wanted my daughter to learn good nutrition and the connection between healthy food choices and physical well being. One of her favorite snacks was french fry shaped pieces of tofu which she happily dipped in catsup. Around the age of five, she was playing with a friend and was offered a doughnut. As she had never encountered this food group, she was clueless. I quickly realized the error of my good dietary intentions, gave in to the doughnut and still laugh about this foible of parenting today.

Sent by Donna Connor | 11:07 AM | 8-31-2008

My 7 yr old daughter loves "doh-nuts" and has since she was quite young. Nothing make her happier than a trip to the doughnut shop or her dad coming home from work with a box of doughnuts in the morning. In fact, one year for her birthday she asked for doughnuts instead of cake for her party. We are fortunate in Portland, OR to have several small family run doughnut shops - our favorite makes sesame doughnuts.

Sent by Allison | 11:09 AM | 8-31-2008

Somehow my future husband jokingly got the idea that a good test of [my] cooking ability would be doughnuts, so the Thanksgiving week before he left for overseas military duty, I got out my mom's cookbook and deep fryer and made them for him. Actually, they were "fried cakes." After the combination of my mom's Thanksgiving feast and those doughnuts, he could barely get his uniform belt buckled. I've never made doughnuts since and we've been married 43 years, but we still count them are one of my memorable culinary achievements.

Sent by Barb | 11:09 AM | 8-31-2008

My favorite donut was one I often had way back in 1964-65 in the Tulane University Medical School cafeteria. It was a chocolate donut with chocolate icing. I just haven't had a chocolate or other donut since which I liked as well. Perhaps the Tulane cook is the one who made the beignets in New Orleans. It was my first job as an audiologist in the Dept of Otolaryngology after getting my masters from the Univ. of Pgh. My wife and I enjoyed N.O. and had our first child, Michael, Jr. there. Lived in an apartment complex on Perlita St. which, we think, was destroyed in a hurricane before Katrina. We were in a minor hurricane the summer of 1965 but nothing like Katrina. We have been saddened by all the destruction of Katrina and are hoping that Gustav and Hanna do not end up as bad as predicted. We enjoy NPR a lot and contribute to our Wisconsin NPR - with a local station in Wausau, Wisconsin-where we live.

Sent by Michael Brunt | 11:12 AM | 8-31-2008

My parents' closest friends are Lloyd and Marilyn. Lloyd is an unapologetic Krispy Kreme snob. He loves to eat them hot off the rack, as many as possible. But with no Krispy Kreme in sight, he reluctantly settled for Dunkin Donuts. He took his stool at the donut bar, stuck his nose in the air and sniffed like a disgusted food critic. When the young man behind the counter asked Lloyd "What will you have?" Lloyd snarled, "Who cares? Surprise me." The young man came back with an eclair and two coconut-covered doughnut holes, strategically plated and leaving the group with no doubt that the server had trumped Lloyd's snobbery with artistic flair. As Marilyn and my parents snorted in laughter, Lloyd quietly ate his plated doughnuts without comment.

Sent by Cheyney Johnston | 11:13 AM | 8-31-2008

We listen to NPR via our computer in Rota, Spain, where our Navy family has been stationed for 3 years. Danial Shore's bagel shortage story from 50 years ago, made us laugh. An hour earlier, my husband had said, "The only thing I really need to go back to the U.S. for, is a fresh bagel on Sunday morning". As far as bagels go, it is fifty years ago in Spain.

Sent by CDR Meg Smith/USNR | 11:19 AM | 8-31-2008

My 18 year daughter, Rebecca, has just begun her freshman year at the University of Colorado at Boulder, so for us it is fitting to be thinking of donuts today.
When Becca was 2 years old our nanny, MariaElena would take her on a mile walk to the park everyday. MariaElena was a recent immigrant from Mexico and spoke very little English.
One day while driving by the park, Becca pointed to the sign in front of the donut store across the street and "read" the sign, "bagels, bagels, bagels." To this day, we chuckle whenever we drive by that shop.

Sent by Jess Perlman | 11:31 AM | 8-31-2008

This story made me think of studying late into the night at UC Santa Barbara, and then driving down to State Street with Craig at 3 am to Schooner Donuts with the strains of Hotel California playing in the background. Nothing tasted quite so good as those fresh hot donuts!

Sent by LeeAnne | 11:33 AM | 8-31-2008

As kids in a more rural Poughkeepsie, NY, we used to ride our bicycles (yes, without helmets or adult supervision) a few miles away to a place called the Cider Mill. The Cider Mill, as its name suggests, made a whopping good cider from local apples at the appropriate time of the year, a cider that would ferment in the fridge. My parents would buy a gallon, and the "mother" at the bottom contributed bubbles and fizz and a slightly increasing bite as we finished it. The Cider Mill also had handmade donuts, deep-fried circles of dough with a thick, crisp, and oily but tasty crust, that came either plain or powdered, and we'd park our bikes outside and buy these and wash them down with a glass of cider. The other lure of the Cider Mill was the ambience. To get to the donut counter, we would walk through a huge, barnlike room, wood-paneled with exposed beams, a room that Teddy Roosevelt would have admired, as it was filled with taxidermy specimens - mammals, birds, reptiles and fish covered the walls and stood around the various picnic tables and benches that were scattered about the room for the patrons. Raccoons and bobcats greeted you as you walked in, moose and deer heads eyed you as you headed towards the counter, brown bears reared up and looked over your shoulder as you ordered, hawks and owls swooped above you as you ate, weasels, beaver and otters walked on the rafters, mice and squirrels sat at your table looking as if they might want your crumbs. The place was packed with stuffed creatures, hundreds of them. We never ate inside, few people ever sat at the tables that I saw, it was too strange, and the room had a musty, dusty smell that detracted from cider and donuts. We would walk outside into the sun, sit on the grass under the trees and clouds, listen to the sounds of live birds as we ate those tasty donuts, and then get on our bikes and ride home. A strange place, but I've never had donuts or cider so good.

Sent by Martha Wild | 11:36 AM | 8-31-2008

Our 2 children are adults now but were born and raised in NYC. When they were young, there were very few donut stores in the neighborhood and few opportunities to enjoy a fresh fluffy glazed donut. One day with excitement, we obtained some fresh donuts for breakfast. Our 3 yr old son sat at the table, took one bite, looked up with a quizzical expression and said, "This is a funny tasting bagel".

Sent by Lily Young | 11:46 AM | 8-31-2008

after reading these tales i'm now singing a song from my childhood!

i went doddle do and i ran around the block
and i ran right in to a donut shop
i picked up a donut out of the grease
and i handed the lady a five cent piece
she looked at the nickle and she looked at me
she said kind sir can't you plainly see
there's a whole in the nickel and it goes straight through
says i there's a hole in the donut too
thanks for the donut
good night!

my mom would sing this to us when we were going to bed. no wonder i crave donuts when i wake up!

Sent by barbara nowlin | 11:58 AM | 8-31-2008

Unlikely Juxtaposition Department: Doughnuts and Delta Blues
--Dick Lourie

As a sax player and poet, I've been visiting and writing about the Mississippi Delta town of Clarksdale for more than a decade, resulting in a book of poems about Clarksdale and the Delta to be published next year.

My labors in Clarksdale have always been fueled in part by the heavenly menu at the historic Delta Donut shop, located at the famous "Crossroads of the Blues." As we all know, the best doughnuts come from a local place whose proprietors open up and start preparing them about 4 in the morning, and where there's enough filling in one jelly doughnut to make two or three of those anemic Dunkins.

Some years ago, inspired by Sherman Alexie's novel, Reservation Blues, I wrote a poem about the doughnut shop, the Crossroads, and blues legend Robert Johnson. It is said in Clarksdale that this intersection, where Highway 61 crosses Highway 49, is the very spot where he allegedly traded his soul to the devil in return for guitar prowess. At the start of Alexie's novel, Johnson--not dead as has been thought, but eternally on the run from his fate--walks onto the Spokane Indian reservation and hands his guitar to a young man named Thomas, who promptly starts a rock and roll band. In my poem, Johnson returns to the Crossroads and encounters the doughnut shop.

Since I put the poem on a poster a few years ago, hundreds of copies have been given away at Delta Donut and other places in Clarksdale. Last month, as I made my semi-annual visit to hang out and play in the Sunflower Blues and Gospel Festival, the Delta Donut owners came up with a new wrinkle (Don't try this at home, unless you live in a small town). Suppose we have our DJ friend at the local radio station announce a contest: Go to the festival tomorrow where the poet will be playing the sax, phone the radio station first thing Monday morning to tell us what the poet was wearing on stage, and you'll win a framed autographed copy of the poem, plus a dozen donuts.

Hopeful and curious about my fifteen minutes of fame, I made it to the WROX studio at 7am Monday to join the DJ for the big event. Sure enough, that dozen was gone in less time than it takes to say chocolate glazed. For the record, my fuel that day was one jelly (raspberry) and one vanilla creme.

Here's the poem:

Development at the Crossroads
For Sherman

Note: In a well-known blues legend that after awhile attached itself to Robert Johnson, a young musician, weary of being scorned by older colleagues for his lack of talent, goes at midnight to "the crossroads," presumably somewhere in the Mississippi Delta, in order to meet the devil, who???in return for his eternal soul???will make him the best blues guitar player in the world.

"The Gentleman held the majority of stock in Robert Johnson's soul and had chased Robert Johnson for decades. Since 1938, the year he faked his death by poisoning and made his escape, Johnson had been running from the Gentleman, who narrowly missed him at every stop."
--Sherman Alexie, Reservation Blues

of course no one knows at exactly which
intersection Robert Johnson is said
to have taken the most costly guitar
lesson in the history of the blues

but legend says that the exchange occurred
somewhere near here so Clarksdale has staked its
own modest claim right where Sixty-one meets
Forty-nine and this attracts visitors

which is important since Clarksdale's poor--few
casinos to boost the tax base like elsewhere
in the Delta (speaking of deals with--but
that's another story) so it's no shock

to hear prominent local businessmen
speak of upscaling the crossroads which is
marked now only by a signpost bearing
as coat of arms two blue guitars crossing

one entrepreneur was heard to say that
there's nothing at this dusty spot but "a
gas station and a doughnut shop" an in-
cautious remark I see Robert Johnson

road-weary years of dodging the Hellhound
on his trail he's come home to the crossroads
it's 4 a.m. he looks around slowly
"hmm nothing here but a gas station and

"a doughnut shop--but that fragrance--more like
Heaven than Hell" Delta Donut has just
opened for the day Robert Johnson steps
in gently lays down his guitar weeps for joy

the kind counter woman helps him choose a
dozen for his travels: the delicate
glaze lemon-filled ??clair apple fritter
and of course devil's food she knows he's poor

and desperate for him the coffee's free:
he smiles slings the guitar across his back
takes the white box in one hard hand hot cup
in the other walks down the road and looks

back it's dawn: then--his voice like the knife's edge--
"a curse falls" Robert Johnson says "on those
who mess with this place blessed by me Delta
Donut abides here beneath my outstretched wings"
##

Sent by Dick Lourie | 11:58 AM | 8-31-2008

My mother's doughnuts were the best! When I was a child she made them mosr Saturday mornings. In the summer, as the aroma of doughnuts filled our small neighborhood, it was amazing to see how some men had to "stop by" to see my father. My mother, of course, could see right through this but they always got a warm, fresh doughnut. When they were cool I would put a few in a small brown bag to shake powdered sugar. Have not tasted a doughnut like heres since.

Sent by Germaine Ruderman | 12:04 PM | 8-31-2008

I love donuts but they do not love me. My most memorable donut moment was one fine Father's Day, one which included a day at Idlewild, a local amusement park in the Laurel Highlands of PA. Well I had the donut and went for a quick bike ride. During the bike ride I experienced the worst chest pains I never experienced in my life. I had been having some problems with heartburn but never this bad. So off to the local hospital er, mentioned chest pain and off to admissions we go. Needless to say that donut got me in the hospital for an overnight and heartmonitoring and a stress test. It was a donut induced GERD attack with an ulcer. As far as gastrointestinal discomfort, why are donuts so apt to cause this. Besides tomatoe based sauces, I have never experienced so much pain because of a food.

Sent by Donna Bridges | 12:06 PM | 8-31-2008

Ode to the chocolate covered. The chocolate doughnut has become a relic of the doughnut. I suppose a sign of the times; like Route 66, inexpensive gasoline, etc. The chocolate doughnut has gone way to the "fluffy" doughnut; the other kind. I remember the endless late night drive on Northern Boulevard to Duncan Donuts in Roslyn anticipating; one -- will they have them. Needing the extra time, ingredients and know how to make; meant they didn't always have them. Imagine a doughnut needing specialized training -- now that's a doughnut that separates itself from the rest. But because of this, at times, I would have to settle for, in my opinion, an inferior doughnut like the chocolate glazed. Two -- would they have enough of them, did I time it right. Having to settle for one or two was not easy for me. I'd buy six or maybe a dozen. Freeze the rest for later. And three -- having to tell the doughnut specialist behind the counter that it didn't matter, I didn't mind paying more for the chocolate doughnut. Ah, but like I said, the chocolate doughnut really doesn't exist any more. Time consuming. Expensive. No longer in vogue. Maybe just as well, my doctor instructs me to eat like a rabbit -- only vegetables. So long chocolate covered doughnut. I solute you.

Sent by Joe Visma | 12:18 PM | 8-31-2008

I have never been a big doughnut fan, which probably explains why my favorite doughnut memory is actually (to me) horrific! Eight years ago, we threw a party for two staff members who were retiring from the school where I worked. As a thank-you gift, these generous ladies brought doughnuts for everyone on the staff. From my classroom, across a small courtyard, I smelled the greasy sweetness. During recess I went to investigate: I had never seen so many doughnuts in one place, outside of a doughnut shop, of course -- there must have been a gross, (a particularly descriptive term, given its other meaning), of doughnuts: glazed and frosted, French egg and old-fashioned, cinnamon twist and jelly-filled. I turned and left, not even remotely tempted. I remember exactly what I was wearing -- a sleeveless "t-shirt" dress -- because what happened at the end of the day was so astonishing: as I got in my car to drive home, I could still smell doughnuts! I sniffed my dress and, sure enough, it was impregnated with that same greasy-sweet smell. I confess that, before that time, I had occasionally succumbed to doughnut temptation. But since that fateful day, nor doughnut nor relative of such has ever touched my lips!

Sent by DJ Whaley | 12:59 PM | 8-31-2008

My favorite doughnut is Top Pot. It is a local (probably soon to be national) company in Seattle. They are a wonderful, plump, cake doughnut, very unlike the squishy, too sweet, Crispie Cremes. My favorite Top Pot is the Pink Feather Boa (white cake with pink frosting and shredded coconut. Yum.

Sent by Sharon Greenberg | 1:03 PM | 8-31-2008

My favorite donut tale is that of my nephew, probably right around 4 years old (he is now 15 and dating!). My sister used to say to him jokingly, "Alex, you are driving me crazy!". His replied was always "Mom, you are driving me nuts!"; their cute little refrain. Then one day, she started it out "Alex you are driving me crazy!". With out missing a beat Alex replied, "Mom, you are driving me doughnuts!". Needless to say, that is a common comment in our household when someone is exasperating...."you are driving me doughnuts".

Sent by nicola Vruwink | 1:07 PM | 8-31-2008

The econ teacher at my high school played this stock game that everyone loved. At the beginning of the semester, every student got to pick 3 stocks to follow. On Thursdays, we'd look at our stocks and the student who had the biggest gain, as well as the student who had the biggest lost, would get a prize. This prize was a doughnut--not just any doughnut, though: a gooper. A gooper is a concoction that the econ teacher got the bakery at the local grocery store to make. A gooper is filled with all of the doughnut fillings available at the store, as well as all of the toppings available. One gooper was 6,000 calories. To this day, it remains simultaneously one of the most delicious and yet somehow grossest pastries I've ever eaten.

Sent by Dawn Drake | 1:08 PM | 8-31-2008

I lived in Orange County for a while where it seemed there was a doughnut shop on every corner. The donuts all seemed the same, regardless of the shop. Do they all use the same pre-made dough?

Sent by garth johnson | 1:08 PM | 8-31-2008

I have a charming story that illustrates the power of the doughnut for my neice Nichole, who was barely 3 at the time.

I bought Nichole a gift; a beautiful and colorful toy dragonfly. I brought the gift to her in a plain brown paper bag. I told Nichole I had a gift for her, showed her the paper bag and asked her, "What could it be?" She replied hopefully, "Doughnut?"

Little did I know that a family friend had been bringing her doughnut treats in a plain brown paper bag and now she associated this style bag with doughnuts.

She opened the gift and happily started playing with the dragonfly. About 15 minutes later, a long period of time for a 3 year old, my brother exercised his parental duty to teach Nichole good manners and asked her, "What do you say to Aunt Suzanne for bringing you this nice present?"

Nichole stopped, looked at me seriously, and without skipping a beat said, "Not doughnut."

Sent by Suzanne LaPierre | 1:08 PM | 8-31-2008

I have special memories from childhood about doughnuts, particularly plain old-fashioned and jelly-filled gems (being the youngest, I didn't get that one very often). We were fairly broke in those days and doughnuts were thus a special treat. I think the source was likely the Winchell's chain store down the street in midtown Sacramento, California. I shudder now at the taste and texture of current standardized Winchell's product and won't eat them, but it was heaven in those days.
Another nostaligic memory in centered on the doughnut cousin apple fritter. When we moved to So. California when I was 8, I had my first Disneyland experience. The cafe in New Orleans Square (The River Belle?) made amazing fritters for which there was always a long line and I believe that was my first ever experience of this amazing pastry. All I remember is the fat cinnamon-laced chunks of apple and thick crunchy layer of sugar glaze that exceeded any food experience before or since. To this day, I look for the perfect fritter and am rarely met with one that I consider adequate. Of course now most stores make these immense plate-sized giants and I feel too guilty for my health to down one of these with regularity. But at 43, it is still my number one comfort food.

Sent by Greg Veneklasen | 1:12 PM | 8-31-2008

I listened to your stories today about donuts. I am sure my story is not what you had in mind however heroes can be found everywhere. I had a much less than perfect childhood. I remember as a three year old going to pick up donuts with my mother. I climbed onto the round stool at the counter as my mother waited for someone to come out from the kitchen. A young man rushed through the swinging door and said to my mother "Ma'am the shop is on fire and we are waiting on the trucks you need to get out of here." My mother rushed from the shop and I slid off the stool following her. The heavy glass door swung shut separating us. I was not strong enough to move it and I watched my mother reach the car and open her door. I pressed my face against the glass my small muscled arms shoving with all of my might. Surely this was the moment her neglect would kill me. I was too small to know that not all children were treated this way so I was stunned when I was suddenly airborne and in the arms of the donut man. The door was open and now I could smell the smoke coming from outside of the building. He was calling to my mother and I remember her snapping eyes and grim tight lips. I was in trouble for lagging behind. Now that I am a mother I realize these five minutes exposed my mother. In her own fear she forgot me. I find donut shops warm and cozy. I always feel a little safer there. Tucson, AZ

Sent by Katharine Reed | 1:19 PM | 8-31-2008

I have fond memories of family summer vacations in Wellfleet, Cape Cod, Mass. Every morning, my father would make a run to the Donut Shack and bring back a dozen assorted doughnuts. We six would then happily devour them before heading off to the beach.

Sent by Valerie | 1:35 PM | 8-31-2008

My family called me "The Health Nut": granola, yoghurt, veggies and fruit, no red meat. I was determined to raise my kids in like fashion. All was going well when until we vacationed at Cal Berkeley's Lair of the Bear family camp in the Sierras. The first morning a platter of donuts was placed on the table, my five year old snagged a glazed, bit into in, and sighed, "Mommy, this is the best bagel in the world."

Sent by Donna Foliart, MD | 1:38 PM | 8-31-2008

When I was growing up in Charleston, SC, in the 70's, my sister and I would sometimes spend the weekend with our grandparents while our parents were away. Our grandfather, Pop, would make a trip to the neighborhood Krispy Kreme and get us a dozen doughnuts, including plenty of chocolate-covered and kreme-filled ones. This was back when Krispy Kreme hadn't spread much geographically. Their glazed type of doughnut was far superior to any cake doughnut I've tasted since.

I don't remember my grandparents eating any of the dozen. My sister and I would tear into them and often finish them off in one day. It was that wonderful kind of indulgence that grandparents do. Both of them have now passed away, my grandfather just last year, but I have fond memories of weekend Krispy Kremes with them.

Sent by Lee Baker | 1:42 PM | 8-31-2008

When I was growing up in Decatur, Georgia back in the 40's I was a Camp Fire Girl. We sold doughnuts as our fundraiser and being in the Atlanta area Krispy Kreme doughnuts were the one and only sort of like Coca-Cola was. I had a big sweet tooth back then and still do, so, with stacks and stacks of unsold boxes before me, I started in on a dozen glazed doughnuts and one wasn't quite enough. Two more were really delicious, and then three or four more until the whole dozen were gone. I found another box and since I wasn't quite satisfied, I ate six more doughnuts. I had eaten eighteen doughnuts that day! I don't remember having a belly-ache, but I'll never foreget that doughnut feast and those great glazed Krispy Kremes.

Martha Post, Bartow, FL

Sent by Martha Post | 2:25 PM | 8-31-2008

As a young entrepreneur (paper boy), I was fortunate to have a doughnut shop conveniently located along my route. Sometimes the only thing that would kick me out of bed for those early Saturday and Sunday editions was the idea of dropping by for my favorite, a Pershing of the largest magnitude. No kidding, those things were as big as a Radio Flyer wagon wheel. What kid wouldn't love that? Thank God for Doughnut World!

Sent by Jon Bartel | 2:33 PM | 8-31-2008

Correction to experts statement concerning Krispy Kreme's entrance into the grocery store and convenience store markets...this began in 1969/1970 when a young, energetic A.L. "Buzz" Tilley talked Mr. Rudolph into going into the grocery stores and convenience stores.

Sent by jack pollard | 2:48 PM | 8-31-2008

We grew up in Asia, and every few years we'd return to the USA on home leave. In 1964 when I was twelve, my grandparents, who lived in Portland, Oregon, took us to the Oregon State Fair where we sampled, for us, exotic foods such as corn dogs, cotton candy, salt water taffy, and candy apples, but our favorite treat by far were the delicious morsels produced by the Mini-Donut Stand. Batter was poured into forms in metal trays, lids were clamped on, and in a few minutes the attendant popped the lids off and out fell the fragrant tender hot little rings. My sisters and I gorged on baker's dozens of these mini-donuts. Finally we could eat no more, but one lone donut remained in a paper bag. We took it home to my grandparents' house and put it on top of the refrigerator for later.

A week passed, and my grandfather took the donut out of the bag. "By golly", he said, "this thing has set up hard as a rock!", and he rapped it on the kitchen counter to prove the point. He was a collector of oddities, so he took the donut to his basement workshop, and set it on a shelf "to see how long it would last".

In 1970 I returned to Portland to attend nursing school, and while I was staying with my grandparents again, I found the donut sitting on the shelf. "Yep", said my grandfather, "six years and still going strong!" From time to time over the next few years we'd look at it and comment on its state of preservation. Eventually I got married, and my husband and I left Portland and I forgot about the "donut that would not die".

By 2000, both my beloved grandparents had died, and my mother and I were finally going through their house, clearing it out before selling it. I was sorting through innumerable boxes in my grandfather's workshop, and in the bottom of one I found the donut, a little dusty, but otherwise none the worse for the 36 years it had spent in that room. Sentimentally I put it aside with other "treasures" I was saving for my sons. When I returned home to New Mexico, I took out the donut and told the boys its story. We marveled at its resilience, and wondered what ingredients had gone in to it. Then we put it in a box for safekeeping.

The problem is, I am as much of a pack rat as my grandparents were, and that box joined a multitude of others in the basement, or maybe the garage, or is it in the storeroom? Well, our boys know the story of "the donut that would not die". One day they'll find it when they're going through our boxes. Maybe they'll show it to their kids, take it out, rap it against a counter and say "So many years and still going strong!"

Sent by Nonna Crook | 2:51 PM | 8-31-2008

Who needs commercial donuts? Not me. The best donuts I ever ate were the ones I had during my summers in northern Maine in the 1950's and 60's. I worked as staff at Camp Natarswi, mostly as a guide for backpack and canoe trips. Whenever I brought a unit of girls to Roaring Brook Campground, the beginning of a trip to the summit of Mt. Katahdin, the ranger, Wilbur Smith, would appear on his cabin porch and motion me to come inside. Mrs. Smith would be at the stove frying up donuts for me. If I protested that I couldn't eat any more, she would say, "Then fill your pockets for later." They were just plain old donuts but they got me three miles up the trail to the next campground-and I never gained an ounce of weight.

Early one morning, on a canoe trip, my group was unable to cross a lake to access the stream we were looking for. In the fog we made out a large log boom filled with acres of 4ft. lengths of pulp wood. We could not safely paddle canoes through that. A tug boat, "Toot-toot" was heard and a boom boat appeared through the fog. Boom boats were something of modified tug boats that towed these huge acres of wood across the larger lakes. The boom boat pulled alongside us. Lumberjacks aboard the boat lifted us, one by one, out of our canoes and onto the deck. Then they lifted our fully-loaded canoes out of the water and onto the deck. As the boat made its way through the logs toward the stream, the cook called to me from the galley below. He needed extra hands to help serve the montrous breakfast (we had eaten breakfast earlier) he cooked for us, including those same great donuts I was used to having at Mr. & Mrs. Smith's cabin.

You can't beat those donuts and I thought I'd never have them again after I left Maine. Last October the DownEast magazine published a donut recipe along with some other Franco-Canadian recipes. Could it be? I tried the donut recipe and found myself feasting on those same wonderful donuts from my past years in Maine. Yum!

Sent by Barbara Lucas | 3:40 PM | 8-31-2008

My most vivid Dunkin' Donuts experience was in the Manila airport in the Philippines in 1986. I was there photographing the Marcos/Aquino "snap" election and flew out to the southern islands several times. On every flight the overhead carryon bins were packed with DD boxes because people from Manila were bringing box upon box upon box of the breakfast pastries back to family members in the hinterlands. The Americans on the flights were the only ones NOT carrying the pink boxes.

Sent by Jack Kurtz | 5:15 PM | 8-31-2008

An Absolutely Perfect Donut: The Cream Stick
From Orlando to San Diego to Seattle I have traveled and failed to find a comparable donut. The Cream Stick is the stuff that dreams are made of: their lightly textured dough, the top, iced with chocolate and filled with never-enough, pure-white cream. This perfect donut is a rare breed for it can only be found in the remote vacation town of Geneva-On the Lake, Ohio. It's life-span is short, for Madsen's Donuts is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
When I was a child, my mother rationed these desserts. They were far to rich for breakfast. Hence, I've literally dreamt of these donuts, yet I never get to eat them, for, even in my dreams there is no substitute for this delicacy.

Sent by Kelly McMahan | 5:30 PM | 8-31-2008

When I was in grade school in Kansas City, Missouri I walked to school each day. The big excitement during my fourth grade year was the opening of a doughnut shop right along my regular route to school. On opening day I stepped into the source of what would become a lifelong addiction. Well, two addictions actually. At the moment I bit into the first glazed doughnut of my life the radio was playing what some regard as the first rock 'n roll song - Dance With Me Henry. In that instant I became a willing slave to any combination involving tasty food and equally tasty music. The highligt of my year is a trip to New Orleans for the Jazz and Heritage Festival. Aah, heaven.

Sent by Sheldon Roth | 9:30 PM | 8-31-2008

I used to live in Americus Georgia. Whenever I had a free weekend, I would drive 35 miles to Albany to get my Krispy Kreme fix. On a salary of a beat reporter at the local daily, all I could afford was three or four plain glazed, unfortunately these never last more than 20 min even when I rationed out my bites! Now I have the means to afford much more but I live no where near a Krispy Kreme! sigh...

Sent by Wee Nam | 10:49 PM | 8-31-2008

In SC one Sunday morning, I observed a well dressed polyester clad couple devour an entire dozen Krispy Kreme, at their main plant in West Coumbia. It was an Edward Hopper, with a backdrop of sun streaming through conveyors of donuts.

Sent by Morgan Smith | 11:21 PM | 8-31-2008

One of my fondest memories, growing up, was being taken to a small donut shop in my hometown of Borger, Texas. They served what was referred to as a "Spud-nut", or a donut made from potato flour. I remember them being extremely fluffy and of course delicious. Strawberry and chocolate glazed were my favorites. They put all of the finished donuts on tall roll-around carts and I remember thinking about devising a plan to roll one of those racks right out of the door and into my parents awaiting car. Hey, what can I say, I was only 5 at the time. Anyway, later on in my adult life our youngest daughter, now 16, learned this cute little song at her daycare. She was only 3 at the time. It's loosely sung to the tune of "Turkey in the Straw"...

Well I walked around the corner and I walked around the block, and I walked into a doughnut shoppe. And I picked up a doughnut and I wiped off the grease and I handed the lady a 5 cent piece.

Well she looked at the nickel and she looked at me and she said this nickel is no good you see, there's a hole in the nickel and it goes right through...

(spoken)
Well lady there's a hole in my donut too!!!

I originally was going to call in to listener voicemail and attempt to sing this little ditty, but it just doesn't sound the same unless it's coming from a 3 year olds mouth, plus I figured that I would spare the audience. I'll just have to wait until our grandaughter, who's now one, gets old enough and we'll have to call it in then.
Now, I think that it's time to go and try to find a "Spud-Nut"!!!

Sent by Kevin Caddell | 11:35 PM | 8-31-2008

My Donut Story ~~~~ Motherhood and Donuts ~~~
We adopted our son from Russia when he was 16 mos old. He's 17 yrs old, now.....a senior in high school, on the varsity soccer team and very sweet, handsome, healthy and bright. By his own admission, he does not like to be the center of attention. He's quiet, reserved, thoughtful. About once a month during high school his day starts with homeroom. The kids bring snacks for everyone [ when they remember]. Over the past 3 yrs of high school my son has faithfully taken donuts for everyone. We stop at the store and buy dozens of fresh donuts. I'm told that the kids are giddy with appreciation. My son is the hero of the hour. They're a room full of kids on a sweet sugar happy high. As I drive to work I ,too, feel that high, without a donut touching my smiling lips. These sugar highs of motherhood always seem to happen in the most mundane of moments. I love these monthly early morning trips to the store with my son, when I savor the pure joy of motherhood........when I'm hit upside the head by the simple sweet happiness of being a mom.
P.S. I'm a health-food nut and haven't had a donut since high school !

Sent by E. Saunders | 11:16 AM | 9-1-2008

My childhood memories of doughnuts are linked to the Dunkin Donuts on Sunrise Highway in Valley Stream (Long Island), NY just across the border from NYC. (This store is still there, by the way, and I'm over 50 yrs old.) It was one of 3 landmarks that my mom use to keep us six kids patient for just a short while longer til we got home. (The other landmarks were the Howard Johnson's - now gone, and the White Castle's - shifted a hundred yards but still there.)
Whenever my dad worked the graveyard shift at JFK (then Idlewild), he would surprise us kids with a dozen doughnuts in the morning when he got home and we were waking up. We always wondered how the jelly got inside, and one time getting near home after midnight from a summer vacation trip, he convinced my mom that even though we were really close to home that we should stop so that us kids could watch the doughnuts being filled. And we did!

Sent by Lydia Young | 8:06 PM | 9-1-2008

Personally I love apple fritters. A true deep fried sweet treat. And it is a treat for me. I by no means eat them every day or even every month. But when I have one I am in culinary extacy, I get them from my local Safeway store here in my east Bay Area community. And the are the best. Never dry, ever freshly made. Oh Starbucks, leave the doughnuts alone. They are dry and somewhat stale before you even get them. Crispy creme was a total disappointment. They flunked out in this area I live in. A good apple fritter is comfort food when I am really broke and want to feel good about a good thing.

Sent by Raverna Wynne | 3:12 PM | 9-2-2008

For longer than I've been alive (I'm 31), my grandmother worked in a doughnut shop. Some of my fondest memories as a small child involve spending hours at her shop, Papa Jake's, listening to the endless chatter of the "regulars" (a group of senior men who always sat at the same places, around a huge round table). I would help her close up shop, and loved every minute of it.

My grandmother passed away a few years ago. One morning, about a month afterwards, my wife and I picked up doughnuts for our Sunday School class at our local doughnut shop. As soon as I walked into the shop, the characteristic odor immediately took me back to my childhood. I burst into tears! For a few moments, I was a small boy again, helping my gramma fill napkin holders and sweep floors.

Sent by James | 3:29 PM | 9-2-2008

I come at doughnuts from a different angle--I worked at a bakery in high school. I would get up at 5:00 on weekend mornings and my poor father would drive me the ten minutes to the Wyckoff Quality Bakery. All of the teenaged girls who worked behind the counter would arrive in our yellow polyester uniforms, hair tied back in ponytails, and be greeted with the delicious smell of the fresh baked goods. "I don't know how you girls stay so thin, working here". I can tell you I got that comment more than once. I think it had something to do with being 16 more than anything else. My most clear memory of the doughnuts, however, is the proper doughnut packing that we got. Every morning, Gert, an adult who worked there would lecture us on the proper way to put donuts in a box. "Always, always, always put paper on the bottom of the box." "Never, never, never put the chocolate glazed doughnuts on the bottom." To this day, I am horrified when a young bakery employee packs the doughnuts 'incorrectly'. I still firmly believe that chocolate glazed doughnuts should never be put in a bag. I have seen my daughters unhappy enough times with smeared doughnuts to realize Gert was 100% right!

Sent by Beth Hendry | 4:51 PM | 9-2-2008

My story about doughnuts: When my husband and I first started dating,he was on a serious diet. People at our work would occasionally bring doughnuts. He has never really cared for them except for the apple fritters which he says are the only true doughnut.I had a agreament with him that I would watch what I was eating also, for I wanted to lose about ten pounds. I love doughnuts by the way. I couldn't rezest a doughnut one day and he caught me red handed. He proceded to digest about six doughnuts as fast as he could and then walked out of the room. There was another fellow in there that commented; (Boy! Chip sure likes doughnuts!)

Sent by Lynne Robinson | 5:59 PM | 9-2-2008

My first job was at a "mom & pop" donut shop. I started by coming in after school to clean the shop from top to bottom. It was definitely a dirty job, but the perks of free coffee and donuts were well worth it. The summer after my graduation, I picked up additional hours at the shop by becoming a glazer and order packer. The shift ran 9pm until 5 am. I would glaze, frost, fill, powder and pack donuts all night while negotiating the thin line of customer service in the wee hours of the morning with the less than desirable drunks. I continued my clean-up shift as well. This meant that I would return 7-8 hours later to spend 4 hours cleaning up the mess I had made the night before. It was hard work. The pay was minimal. The smell of donuts was everywhere - my car, clothes, bed, school locker, etc. I learned a lot about responsibility. I made enough money to pay for my first year of college thus putting off the dreaded student loans. And...I fell out of love with donuts. To this day, I rarely eat a donut, but the sight of them reminds me of that summer, school and the once intoxicating and now repelling smell. I owe my finer education to the donut, but forgive me if I don't share one with you on a Sunday morning.

Sent by Kevin Conner | 10:04 PM | 9-2-2008

After having read, or scanned the many donut stories, I was amazed that no one wrote about the best in Santa Clara, Ca. - Stan's Donuts. They won blue ribbons for their donuts. There light and fluffy, hand kneaded donuts ranked at the top of the valleys' (Silicon Valley) best list while Krispy Kremes, in comparison, came in last - they are THAT GOOD. The first time I drove by I thought I must have found the wrong place. It was tiny. I heard about them being the greatest ever. Only until a year later when I tasted these incredible edibles at a friends house did I find out that lines routinely ran the length of the counter and out the door.
I went back to this little hole in the wall size shop and was a regular till we moved to Monterey, 50+ miles south. Now, whenever I am in town - early - I stop by for a great treat. If they were actually good for you I would seriously look for a partner to franchise their operation - everyone needs to experience a Stan's.

Sent by Brooke Macarandan | 2:13 AM | 9-18-2008