Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Best Doughnuts I've Ever Had

It's midnight in Hagerstown, Maryland. I drive my car through the lightless alleys trying to remember where it is. Finally, I find it. Standing in an unmarked alley shines a doughnut shop, a beacon of light and decadence.

Krumpe’s Donuts began in 1934 with a real guy named Krumpe—Rudolf Max Albert Lewis Krumpe to be exact. The former German merchant marine opened his first doughnut shop in Harrisburg, PA. But with food rationing and the boycotts of German establishments during World War II, Krumpe's outlets were forced to close and Max enlisted in the Coast Guard.

In 1950 the Krumpes bought a home on Maryland Ave. in Hagerstown. They set up shop again in the garage behind their house, where they’ve sold doughnuts nightly ever since. Although Max passed away in 2000, his two sons and one grandson continue the Krumpe’s tradition.

Krumpe's has the best doughnuts I have ever had—not a declaration I take lightly. I've always thought that the lighter-than-air glazed of Bountiful, Utah joints like Dick's Market, Parson's Bakery, and Carmack's (RIP) were second to none. Maybe it's because I was raised on Utah fare, but the offerings of East Coast chains like Dunkin Donuts and Krispe Kreme have always seemed like heavy and over-labored.

While a Krumpe's glazed is heavier than Utah's best, eating one is unlike any other experience I have ever had. After the initial bite hits my tongue with delicious sweetness, a second wave of delight hits the back of my tongue every time I chew. I can't explain the physics, but Krumpe's tastes better and better as you eat them.

There are other flavors that the locals love, but I’m a one flavor kind of guy—glazed is synonymous with doughnuts. And Krumpe’s octagonal delights are the only doughnut I want to eat for the rest of my life. Driving away I was literally banging my hands on the steering wheel, unable to believe what I was tasting.

Did I mention that they're dirt cheap? About $2.50 for a half dozen. Good thing, too, because I can’t eat less than three at a time.

Summary: If you find yourself in MD, PA, or VA, make the trip to Krumpe's.
Rating: The best. Really.
Details: Krumpe's is open from 7 P.M. to 2 A.M. and, yes, it really is in a dark alley.