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HOPE: Road tripping for donuts

I asked my husband to give me a bouquet of donuts for Valentine's Day. I have my priorities straight. Donuts are just about a perfect food. They can be cakey, they can be yeasty, they can be frosted, and they can be sprinkled. And even the holes ...

1291974+Jackie Hope.jpg
Jackie Hope

I asked my husband to give me a bouquet of donuts for Valentine's Day. I have my priorities straight.

Donuts are just about a perfect food. They can be cakey, they can be yeasty, they can be frosted, and they can be sprinkled. And even the holes in the middle are little bites of deliciousness.

Donuts have been with us a long time. They were probably brought to America by Dutch settlers in New York. The Dutch called them olykoek, which translates as "oily cake."

I totally prefer Washington Irving's name for them, dough-nuts, in his 1809 book, "A History of New York from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty." Ol' Washington must have been pretty impressed with those oily delicacies, if he thought them important enough to include in his history of New York.

Doughnut was shortened to donut in the early 20th century, and Dunkin' Donuts was the first company to use the abbreviated spelling. Dunkin' Donuts has been frying up their delicacies since 1950, and we recently began a long-distance love affair with Dunkin'.

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We have been doing a lot of driving back and forth to Rochester, MN lately. And on our first trip we discovered Dunkin' Donuts just around the corner from our hotel.

There were Dunkin' signs and arrows in the hotel lobby, pointing us toward the basement level food court and shops. In the hotel basement we found more signs and arrows, directing us to keep walking past the fancy-schmancy boutiques. We finally came to the end of the shops, and more signs pointed us through tunnels under the hotel.

Then we entered a narrow service hall, with tiny doors that looked like something from "Alice in Wonderland." Strange? Oh yeah. But we were hot on the trail of donuts.

Finally we emerged into another basement shopping area, and Dunkin' pointed us up a flight of stairs and into the back door of donut nirvana: our first experience of Dunkin' Donuts. Two French donuts, one chocolate donut, and one old fashioned cake donut later, we were hooked.

But our donut greed did not stop with Dunkin'. As soon as we left Rochester, we were jonesing for more donuts.

Now, there are little Casey's General Stores in nearly every small town in Minnesota, South Dakota, and eastern North Dakota. And in every Casey's Store there are freshly baked donuts. We stopped at the first Casey's just west of Rochester, and we each bought one donut. At the second Casey's store we each bought two donuts. By the third Casey's store, we were on such a sugar rush that we didn't dare stop the car.

Several hours later the donut high had worn off, and we were desperately looking for another Casey's. But OMGoodness, there was not a Casey's to be found. In total desperation, we made a quick trip to the Quick Trip store in Hutchinson, MN. Quick Trip had a Wall of Pastries. Donuts and fritters and cookies. Oh my.

We now have our Donut Route to Rochester and back finely plotted.

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We exert extreme will power, and wait until we get to Valley City, where Petro Serve has maple frosted cake donuts to die for. In Minnesota the Casey's Stores have prime quality French donuts, and Quick Trip is great for jelly donuts.

But our first love is still Dunkin' Donuts in Rochester. A long-distance love affair, to be sure, but so worth the 700 mile trip.

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