A Round of Applause for the Joy Givers: Duchess Donuts

Customers lined up July 31, 2020 to get their Duchess Bakery fix. (Nick Griffin for The Cullman Tribune)

HOORAY FOR THE JOY-GIVERS! We always need more smiles, music and laughter. This fun series salutes those seriously unsolemn people, places and things that bring joy to the world. Starting during the pandemic, an oft joy-challenged time, readers are introduced to present-day joy givers and reminded of cherished joy givers of the past. Each salute will have online links to add more opportunities for happiness in the comfort of your socially-distanced home. Many installments of the series will include a salutary food or drink recipe to add another element of pleasure.

The “SHIELD THE JOYOUS” shields, which will be given to those honored or to their family, are inspired from a passage in “The Book of Common Prayer” (1662). Prayers are lifted to “tend the sick, give rest to the weary, bless the dying…and shield the joyous.” Joy givers are precious. Let us preserve them, protect them, treasure them, smile with them, laugh with them, tap our toes with them and give them A ROUND OF APPLAUSE.


First, let’s share a round of laughs with this donut joke:  One day a policeman goes to his barber and after the haircut the cop pulls out his wallet to pay.  The barber says, “Thank you, but I can’t accept money for haircuts this week, the judge has me doing community service.” The cop says, “That seems like a good way to give back to the community. I’m impressed. I just thought that judge was another free-loading politician.” The next day, the cop brought the barber a dozen donuts and the judge was at the barber shop with his dad, two uncles, four sons, seven nephews and a dozen cronies.

Here is a round of fun things to know about donuts:

  • Canadians eat the most donuts, and their iconic donut brand is Tim Horton’s.
  • Americans eat more than a billion donuts a year.
  • Voodoo Donuts in, of course, bizarro Portland, Oregon used to sell donuts glazed with NyQuil and Pepto Bismol until the state health department made them stop.
  • National Donut Day was created by the Salvation Army in 1938 to salute the “Doughnut Dollies” who served coffee and doughnuts in the French trenches during WWI.
  • The “donut” spelling was created by the NYC-based Display Doughnut Machine Corporation to help foreigners not get tongue-tied trying to pronounce “doughnut.”
  • North Carolina-based Krispy Kreme donuts is partnering with North Carolina-based Cheerwine to make a donut-flavored soft drink, and YES, it seems like a nasty idea.
  • Spudnuts are potato donuts made with mashed potatoes, sugar and lard instead of flour, sugar and lard.
  • Jelly-filled donuts are popularly consumed by Jewish-Americans to celebrate Hanukkah; Mazel Tov and Yum, Y’all!
  • A donut shop in Michigan is run entirely by cops.
  • Oscar-winning actress Renee Zellweger ate 20 donuts a day (190 calories each) to fatten up for her role in the popular comedy “Bridget Jones’s Diary.”
  • Clark Gable taught movie audiences how to properly dunk a donut in the comedy classic, “It Happened One Night” (1934).


FREE YOUTUBE ROUND-UP OF DONUT FUN:  “Learn Your Colors With Donuts” (24:40 minutes)—an entertaining way to help stay-at-home kids actually learn something; “The Best Doughnuts In Los Angeles” (11:36 minutes, sadly “The City of Angels” doesn’t have a Duchess Donut shop, YET, but they do have some imaginative options; “Twisted Korean Doughnuts,” (15:05 minutes) a super-charming, television chef teaches us how to make her traditional, Asian sweet treat, dubbed in English.

GRILLED DUCHESS DONUTS?? Yes, it’s now a thing. I had my first and delish, GRILLED DUCHESS DONUTS at a Labor Day picnic with Susan and Ernest Hauk and Samantha and Justin Patterson. Here’s the recipe from Ernest Hauk which calls for a dozen “day-old” Duchess Donuts (good luck not devouring them for a day) and an outdoor fire grill:

Grilled Duchess Donuts by Ernest Hauk

To do anything but eat a fresh, hopefully warm, Duchess Donut straight from the bag is pure heresy. A grilled donut is a treat, but it seems those “less fresh” donuts bought from a grocery deli might be a better plan. Yet, there are always those who delight in experimentation and want only Duchess. So, heresy be damned. Here goes:

Purchase a dozen Duchess Donuts from the shop on First Avenue SE (Downtown Cullman, AL). Should they have some a day-old, which is rare, that would be helpful. It will be very difficult to abstain from eating the entire dozen of fresh ones as the smell will consume your senses. If you get fresh ones, it might be wise to put them in the trunk of your car and ride around with them for a day or two before releasing them. Once they are beyond the devour straight from the bag stage, you may choose to proceed in one or two ways.

You can slice them in half horizontally like a bagel, or, you may slice them into bite-sized pieces. Either slice can be skewered and given the marshmallow treatment over the fire. If you don’t have a fire and don’t know how to make one, you could place them in a skillet, turning frequently to avoid disintegration of the sugar.

Once complete, you have a slightly crunchy morsel with a warm, sugary crust. These may be eaten with a good vanilla ice cream or cooled a bit and popped straight into your salivating mouth. While there is nothing like the taste of a fresh, warm Duchess donut, this is an interesting and delightful way to enjoy them.

Copyright 2020 Humble Roots, LLC. All Rights Reserved.


Ben South