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Have you ever eaten a spudnut?
My first and only experience happened three years ago in Little Rock. Fortunately, a friend had just returned from the Spudnut Shoppe in El Dorado, a two-hour drive from the capital city, with a box of still fairly fresh confections. I remember the potato flour-based donut being distinctly better than most donuts on the market, but it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I was able to visit the actual shop and try one at the peak of freshness.
I arrived at 6:30 a.m. on a Saturday to an old-timey, dimly lit and somewhat barren donut shop. A line of six people formed at the register and extended to the front door. It was early, so low volume, half-dazed small talk amongst locals in line was the only noise in the joint. Dozens and dozens of boxes, stacked neatly against the back wall, caught my eye, but so did the overall sparseness of the place. There were a couple of tables and chairs for in-house dining, a cooler for drinks, and a coffee pot. Upon second glance, I spotted more empty donut boxes along the wall. What I’m trying to say is that Spudnut Shoppe was all about spudnuts.
The workers were quiet. One man labored over dough while another walked around, overseeing what I assumed to be the fryer in the back. A third tended the counter. It was a small, yet efficient operation, run to perfection. As the locals gabbed about each other’s family, I stared blankly at an overhead board, searching for options and prices.
A plain glazed spudnut will run you 70 cents. Other slightly higher priced items include chocolate covered, lemon filled, strawberry filled and caramel iced spudnuts, along with cinnamon rolls, eclairs, and donut holes by the dozen. It’s a simple, no-frills menu, which is about what I expected.
Except for the donut holes, I tried all of the aforementioned offerings. My bill ran about $9, a small price to pay for greatness. And while I enjoyed all of them, the plain glazed truly stood out. Most of the potato flour donuts I’ve tried in the past were thick, dense and just not very enjoyable, but the spudnut was fairly light and fluffy. A perfect fry job left the exterior crisp, yet not oily. The spudnut was soft and warm, but not hot, so I’m figuring it had set out for about 10 minutes. It was apparent what all of the fuss was about. Simply put, it was one of the better donuts I’ve eaten in quite a while.
Knowing that time was critical, and every moment counts when it comes to donuts, I snapped a few photos, got back into my car, and drove home to Little Rock. Two hours later, my family was enjoying their first spudnut experience.
That’s what I call paying it forward.
810 W Faulkner St. (El Dorado)
Phone: (870) 863-9914
Hours: Monday-Saturday 5 a.m.-12 p.m.; Closed Sunday
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