By Julie Ann Madden
The first Friday of June is National Doughnut Day across the United States.
According to several websites, the reason for this national day of eating the sweet, fried dough confectionery came about in 1938 when The Salvation Army created this event as a fundraiser for the Chicago Salvation Army to help those in need during the Great Depression and to honor the women from World War I who used to hand out donuts to the soldiers behind the front lines in France during the war.
Today, it’s often a marketing competition between national donut chains like Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme.
In Akron, freshly made donuts — hot out of the hopper — are available seven days a week at Casey’s General Store, located at the intersection of Iowa Highways 3 and 12.
Casey’s “Doughnut Ladies” Joyce Toben and Marcia Dewey begin work at 2 a.m. — long before many are craving the sweet treat for breakfast.
Joyce has been making doughnuts at Casey’s for 11 years now while Marcia, who works on the days Joyce is off, is nearing her first anniversary at Casey’s.
“I had never made doughnuts in my life,” Joyce told The Akron Hometowner. “When I started making doughnuts, it was really difficult.”
“I had to work with it every day until I got it the way I wanted them to be,” she said. “It took a lot of training and a lot of know-how to do this.”
“Now, this is play to me,” said Joyce.
Although they begin with a pre-measured mix, they must make sure the water they add is the right temperature, said Marcia. “At the right temperature, the doughnuts won’t be too flat or too fluffy.”
The batter is placed in the “hopper,” which plops out perfectly round same-size doughnuts — no donut holes here. The hopper drops the spherical shapes into a tub of hot grease where the batter is fried.
In just a few seconds, there is a perfect cake donut, ready for frosting and other toppings such as sprinkles, nuts or coconut.
“One batch makes 60 doughnuts,” said Marcia.
On a week day morning, the donut ladies make 180 donuts, and on weekends, they make 200, said Joyce. “On rainy, cloudy days I know I have to make more, and if it’s a sunny day, I make a normal run.”
“On weekends, they go really fast,” she added, noting they also take orders for doughnuts. During her tenure, she has filled a request for 40 dozen and another for 25 dozen.
In addition to cake donuts, they also bake “yeast” donuts in an oven.
Whether you spell it the traditional “doughnut” or popular shortcut, “donut,” there is probably a doughnut for every single delectable desire.
At Casey’s the donut ladies make chocolate, strawberry cake and regular cake doughnuts, premium rings, rectangular long johns, triangular-shaped cream-filled doughnuts and French egg pinwheel “tractor wheel” doughnuts. In addition, they have strawberry cream cheese flips, brownies, muffins and apple fritters. In the fall, they also have pumpkin-flavored doughnuts.
The doughnuts are frosted with chocolate, white, caramel or glaze icings. Some are “swirled” with more than one type of frosting and some are topped with nuts, sprinkles, and coconut.
Joyce’s favorite is the “chocolate chocolate cake doughnut with white frosting and Marcia’s is the “regular” cake doughnut with caramel frosting.
“People just like our doughnuts,” said Joyce when asked why people like Casey’s. “They are more light, and some like them crispy — (baked) more dark.”
And it may be that the donut ladies take special orders over the kitchen “door.” Both can name a few customers that come to the door if they don’t see their desired doughnut in the case.
“We don’t get too many unusual requests,” said Joyce. “I make them whatever.”
They even box up doughnuts not sold the day before for those customers who prefer “day-old doughnuts.”
Now, if the sugary treats are not your favorite breakfast treat, the donut ladies also prepare an extensive breakfast menu, including breakfast croissants, biscuits, burritos and pizzas.
They also make “snack cups” of cookies, including chocolate chunk, macadamia nut and pecan caramel. Their newest snack cup treat is called Peanut Butter Bites, similar to a chocolate-frosted rice krispie treat or scotcharoo. They also make decorated sugar cookies.
By 5 a.m., the displays are full so stop by and thank the “doughnut ladies” of Akron this week.