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Columns

March 25, 2013

Recalling days of 'Doughnut King'

In 1969, I was “The Doughnut King” in Sidney.

My father bought a doughnut-making machine, and his market was the first one in the village to make its own doughnuts (of course bakeries and coffee shops had been doing that for years). So it was my duty to make a daily variety of doughnuts in that monstrosity. I had a sign over the machine and I’d write down how many I made each day. Our customers would poke their heads in to see what I was up to. By the time my reign as “The Doughnut King” ended, I had made more than a quarter of a million doughnuts.

All kinds: plain, sugar, cinnamon, glazed, green ones for St. Patrick’s Day, pink ones for Valentine’s Day, etc. It was fun. In 1971, I moved out of Sidney, and I sadly gave up my royal scepter.

What is it about a doughnut?

People just go wild for them, and my customers back at Don’s Super Market were no different. Think Krispy Kreme wild.

During my college years in Albany, I worked at Freihofer’s Bakery. I stood on an assembly line, putting cherries on cupcakes. I watched doughnuts by the tens of thousands being scooped up out of their bubbling vats, placed on drying racks and then shipped out to stores all across the Northeast for sale.

This was a venerable Capital District bakery, started by Charles Freihofer in 1884. He delivered his baked good by horse and carriage. In fact, his doughnuts even today carry an image of that early horse and buggy on each box. They were good, too. Especially the glazed ones. I ate as many free ones as I could stomach when I worked at that bakery back in Albany’s Arbor Hill district.

Another iconic doughnut was the Spaulding kruller. They came in an unmistakable orange- and white-striped boxes. This was “our” doughnut because their bakery was in Binghamton, their distribution center was on Market Street in Oneonta and they could be found in every mom-and-pop store in every community no matter how big or how small.

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