Making the case for donuts as the perfect road food

A six-day, 2,300-mile trip to the Midwest offered the perfect pretext to visit local donut shops.
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Display case at Resch's Bakery, Columbus, Ohio.

Display case at Resch’s Bakery, Columbus, Ohio.

A pit stop beckoned as we passed through Buffalo last June, en route to our family vacation in Toronto.

With a fateful swipe of her iPhone, my wife, Sara, steered us to Paula’s Donuts. It was such a delectable experience that we stopped there again on our return trip.

While I’ve yet to make good on my threat to leave home unannounced at 3 a.m. some Saturday bound for Paula’s, I do love donuts. I even love the ones that Country Kitchen mass produces, individually plastic wrapped and sold by the half-dozen, in my native Maine.

When we return from our annual summer trip to Maine, we always make a first stop at Dunkin’ Donuts. But while America may run on Dunkin’, there’s nothing like a classic local donut shop.

My recent six-day, 2,300-mile journey to the Midwest offered the perfect pretext to visit some of those shops. As I had been working hard to lose weight in the preceding two months, I vowed to limit myself to a single donut at each stop.

I held to it at the first stop, anyway.

Resch’s Bakery, Columbus, Ohio

My long-time client Royer’s Flowers has a sister company that operates three flower shops in the Columbus area. That’s where I visited Resch’s, a sixth-generation operation that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012.

I had made the six-hour drive to Columbus that morning, so it was early afternoon by the time I got to Resch’s. It was reassuring to see customers in the place and, better yet, the cases filled with fresh donuts.

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My donut was covered in powdered sugar with a big dollop of lemon jelly. The woman who waited on me explained that she was putting it in a box given its delicate nature.

That glazed goodness never stood a chance, as I had eaten nothing to that point in the day. Besides, it would have been too messy to consume it while driving. I devoured it in the parking lot, washing it down with a pint of milk.

Long’s Bakery, Indianapolis

The first thing I noticed as I turned onto North Tremont Street was the police car facing Long’s from the convenience store lot on the other side of the road. It struck me funny until I walked into Long’s and discovered a long line of patrons. Perhaps the police officer was there for crowd control, as street parking was at a premium at noon.

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The man behind me in queue indicated that it was always crowded at Long’s, which I had read about on Thrillist.com’s 2016 list of America’s best donut shops. Long’s also was on the list in 2015.

“It’s been around forever,” according to the website. “They only take cash. The lines on the weekend and weekdays and pretty much most of the time are long. But once you get a taste of their glazed yeast donuts, or the blueberry cake, or that apple one that I can only remember in my dreams, you won’t mind the lines. And with donuts being under just barely over half a dollar, you won’t mind the cash-only policy either.”

I bought two donuts and ate them fast, but safely beyond the reach of the police officer’s radar.

Jack Frost Donuts, Cleveland

The last day of my road trip brought me to Cleveland (yup, a future post). I was in the middle of foul weather, but the skies cleared enough for me to rationalize a stop at Jack Frost Donuts.

The company has been family-owned and operated since 1937, but its current location opened only in April 2016. Jack Frost offers 200-plus varieties; fortunately, I was the only patron at the time, which allowed me to be deliberate while selecting a dozen. I got two of the best-selling maple bacon.

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I knew I was heading into more inclement weather as I embarked on the final five-hour stretch. I was tired but homesick, so I persevered even as 18-wheelers parked along the highway amid the downpour.

Emerging from one of the mountain tunnels, my Subaru Outback hydroplaned for a matter of seconds, long enough for me to wonder why the heck I was driving at all.

I made it home without further incident. However, three of the donuts weren’t so fortunate, succumbing to my lack of willpower.

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