Now this may seem like a blog post about food, but it isn’t. It’s a post about community. It’s a post about the many small local businesses in every town that could disappear unless we support them.
One of those businesses in the Triangle NC area is Baker’s Dozen Donuts on Buck Jones Road, part of the old South Hills Mall on the border of Raleigh and Cary.
Although I’ve driven by the place for years, I had never heard of it until a week or so ago. Someone posted on our neighborhood’s NextDoor app about this hole-in-the-wall donut shop. Like many food businesses, it struggled during the Coronavirus shut-down for many months. Also, it is owned and operated by people of Asian descent who have apparently experienced some harassment and anti-Asian negative comments from people who came into their very modest facility. Then it got vandalized by someone who smashed in its front windows, although it seems to be a case of mental illness rather than a hate crime because the person arrested broke some other windows as well.
The original poster simply suggested that people support the business through these difficult times. But then the love started pouring in. Post after post came from people who said they had the best donuts in the Triangle, bar none. As all these rave reviews showed up, I wondered how I could have missed such a gem in my neighborhood! Donuts seem like a kind of old-fashioned treat. We have three bakeries in downtown Cary, and they all carry breakfast pastries, but things like croissants and bear claws and danish and apple fritters, etc. There is not a fresh donut to be found.
So this morning, in honor of National Donut Day, I got out of bed at 6:30 and made the 10 or so minute drive over to support my local donut shop. My son organized a get-together with his high school friends who are now home from college for this evening, so I bought a dozen for them as well as some for our own consumption.
Look at those! Don’t they make your mouth water?
The yeast donuts, like the glazed, have such a light dough that it amazed me. It looks like they would be doughy or bready, but they taste as airy as a Krispy Creme glazed donut:
The cake donuts are denser but still have that unique texture that makes them donuts instead of cake. This example, which was called devil’s food, had such a rich and pronounced chocolate flavor as well:
The national chains are all offering a free donut today, but do yourself and your community a favor and go get your donut at a local shop, even if you have to pay for it. Your tastebuds will thank you for it. And we can’t take our local businesses for granted. It’s actually been forever since I’ve eaten donuts, because let’s admit it, they aren’t the healthiest food. But if I’m going to indulge, I would rather do so with something so fresh and delicious and different at a place where more of my money stays in our local community.
And for some educational content…where in the world do you think they have the most donut shops per capita? In the US, the epicenter for donut shops is the Northeast. Donuts were supposed brought to the country by the Dutch, who called them olykoeks or “oily cakes.” Since the Dutch settled mostly in New York and surrounding states, it’s not surprising the donut tradition is strongest up there. The top 10 donut shops per capita cities in the US are:
- Providence-Warwick, RI
- Worcester, MA
- Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA
- Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT
- New Haven-Milford, CT
- Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT
- Springfield, MA
- Scranton–Wilkes-Barre–Hazleton, PA
- Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
- Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY
However, neither the US nor the Netherlands are the top countries in terms of donut shops per capita. The top honor goes to Canada, which has FIVES TIMES as many donut shops per capital compared to the US. The country with the second most donut shops per capita is Japan…which was a surprise to me. However, their donuts are different than ours, being filled with red bean paste instead of, say, bavarian cream (the US #2 choice in favorite donut flavors after the best-seller, glazed).
Finally, for those who can’t eat donuts for health reasons, here is a sweet substitute:
As I drove home with my fresh, warm donuts, traffic on the street that leads to Cary High School stopped for a few minutes allow this gaggle of geese to cross the road undisturbed. It may be hard to tell from the picture, but there are quite a few of what looked like “teenage” geese following their mamas and papas. By the time they had all passed, there were about ten cars waiting. But everyone was patient; no one honked their horns or tried to squeeze through a gap in the line.
I guess everyone is in a good mood on National Donut Day!