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In Search of Lost Donuts

Pasadena, California
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In Search of Lost Donuts

More than 40 years ago, I attended UCSC. We had a finals-week ritual, of driving to a donut place in the middle of the night, where, in a kind of bleary-eyed, amphetamine-and-coffee- stoked fever, we would gorge on hot donuts just out of the fryer. There was this one donut: whole-wheat (possibly), spice-laden (certainly), with a batter that included applesauce (probably). Lightly glazed, just enough for a slight sugary crunch.

I haven't thought about those donuts in decades, but a conversation with my son at lunch today (as he munched on a Winchells and we discussed the merits of cake vs raised) summoned that donut from the mists of time.

Rather than writing a 2000+ page novel, I decided to search Google. Turned up a place called Ferrell's, which rings a bell. But the website states that the "Original" Ferrell's was founded in 1976, years after I left Santa Cruz. The place we went to, on a sort of highway, was an institution by the early 1970s.

Anyone know if the place I am thinking of still exists? And if so, is the glazed/cake/apple spice donut still available? I've eaten a lot of great food since my late teens. But this donut remains one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted.

Generally, I don't like donuts. And I was not happy at UCSC. But I'll make a special 2 a.m. detour for that donut, if it still exists.

Edited: 25 October 2014, 05:14
San Jose, California
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1. Re: In Search of Lost Donuts

Sounds like an apple fritter donut. I don't know of the donut place you are talking about though - if you went there as a UCSC student, it is/was probably on the west side and I grew up on the east side, and therefore, not very familiar with west side institutions. It is a funny idiosyncrasy of SC life :-) If the apple fritter is indeed the type of donut you are talking about, they have got to be very common in SC because they were sold on campus at my high school. Apple fritter and a coke - breakfast of champions :-)

Dublin, California
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2. Re: In Search of Lost Donuts

40 yrs? That place has probably become a naan and curry place.

And seriously, amphetamine?

Santa Cruz...
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3. Re: In Search of Lost Donuts

On a sort of highway? Do you mean Ocean Avenue as it comes into town from Hwy 17? When I moved here in 1970 there was doughnut shop on a corner which had been there for a long time.. It is now a Ferrell's, but I don't remember if it always was named that. There are now also two Ferrell's in the area, one on 17th Avenue and one in Scott's Valley. My husband used to like their donuts, (he is a retired prof from UCSC) but he said he tried some earlier this year and they were terrible.

Another long time one is Allbright's on Water Street near Seabright. There is a bad review of that one here, alhough it is very popular with old guys who fill it up when they have their coffee and donuts in the morning.

It may be that the 'day of the donut' is long past.

Pasadena, California
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4. Re: In Search of Lost Donuts

Thanks for the help. It wasn't an apple fritter, November Moon; more like an applesauce spice cake batter, made into a donut. You might be right about the location, Puter; I don't remember. It will have to remain a memory, and probably better that way. That longing for the past recaptured rarely works out.

San Francisco, CA
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5. Re: In Search of Lost Donuts

I was also a UCSC student in the early 1970s, and I remember the tantalizing smell of Ferrell's donuts in the middle of the night. I remember the shop being on Mission, but as Puter says, there is a Ferrell's on Ocean now.

Pasadena, California
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6. Re: In Search of Lost Donuts

So it was Ferrell's! Thank you! The website indicates an opening date of 1976; but the 70's now being ancient history, it stands to reason the current owners could be off by a decade or so. Since Puter's husband says the quality of their donuts has declined, I guess I won't make that detour next time I'm in the bay area.

United States
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7. Re: In Search of Lost Donuts

Old fashioned "Apple n Spice" donuts were popular in the late 60s, early 70s. We had them growing up in New England, along with "Squash Donuts".

Ferrell's is listed at 2227 Mission street and from the photo on google maps it looks like it probably hasn't changed much since 1970.

Pasadena, California
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8. Re: In Search of Lost Donuts

With the mid-century stuff getting all trendy (mac 'n cheese, anyone?), maybe those donuts will make a comeback. They sure were delish. Never saw a squash donut, but that sounds good too.

Santa Cruz
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9. Re: In Search of Lost Donuts

The donut shops around here have changed hands at least twice each that I can remember - and that is from the late 70's til now.

The Ferrells' on Mission St. Donuts was recently shuttered for a while until a new family bought into it several years ago. Boy I remember similar times with friends going out late to get donuts - I usually could resist, and watched them eat them. I did however buy buttermilk bars and maple bars at least weekly it seems at Santa Cruz High in the 80's.

I found a post on a blog that mentions some of the history. Plus in city records it lists the first (of many) Ferrell's Donuts was opened in 1951 by E.P. Ferrell. They provided donuts to Santa Cruz City Schools. Their first location was where Allbright’s Donut Shoppe is now...

Pasadena, California
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10. Re: In Search of Lost Donuts

Thanks for that, Cruzmon. I guess we've got a whole history of Ferrell's Donuts now, 1951-present. Somebody ought to bring back those applesauce-spice glazed donuts.

Recently read an article on unusual donut flavors in India. An idea for a travel article: "Around the World in 80 Donuts".