Looking through the lens of a devout donut aficionado, it is clear to see donuts continue to evolve from their early days as a flavorful dough piece flavored by rich spices. The following description from Smithsonian Magazine speaks to the origins of the modern donut, which came to America under the Dutch name of olykoeks, or oily cakes.
“Fast-forward to the mid-19th century and Elizabeth Gregory, a New England ship captain's mother who made a wicked deep-fried dough that cleverly used her son's spice cargo of nutmeg and cinnamon, along with lemon rind. Some say she made it so son Hanson and his crew could store a pastry on long voyages, one that might help ward off scurvy and colds. In any case, Mrs. Gregory put hazelnuts or walnuts in the center, where the dough might not cook through, and in a literal-minded way called them doughnuts.
“Her son always claimed credit for something less than that: putting the hole in the doughnut. Some cynical doughnut historians maintain that Captain Gregory did it to stint on ingredients, others that he thought the hole might make the whole easier to digest. Still others say that he gave the doughnut its shape when, needing to keep both hands on the wheel in a storm, he skewered one of his mom's doughnuts on a spoke of his ship's wheel. In an interview with the Boston Post at the turn of the century, Captain Gregory tried to quell such rumors with his recollection of the moment 50 years before: using the top of a round tin pepper box, he said, he cut into the middle of a doughnut the first doughnut hole ever seen by mortal eyes."
The first doughnut machine, the magazine continues, did not come along until 1920, in New York City, when Adolph Levitt, an enterprising refugee from czarist Russia, began selling fried doughnuts from his bakery. By 1931, the New Yorker offered the following update: "We can tell you a little about the doughnut-making place in Broadway," and described how "doughnuts float dreamily through a grease canal in a glass enclosed machine, walk dreamily up a moving ramp, and tumble dreamily into an outgoing basket."
Future innovations came and went, but today we reach the latest chapter in this evolving story about donuts in America, following the wake of a spell of double-digit losses in donut sales at grocery and retail store nationwide – the stinging result of shoppers’ reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. The past year has been tough for donut makers. Yet the tide is now turning, and to no surprise it is turning because of bold introductions of new products and packaging that return the delicious donut to its pedestal.
Exhibit A is the 2-ounce steamed cake donut from Tiffany’s Bakery in the Center City region of Philadelphia, which in June introduced the Doyo®. “Pronounced dough-yo, this unique donut is our latest offering and might just be the best donut you’ve ever had,” the bakery’s owner Frank Pantazopoulos says with a smile.
“This is a healthy option,” he adds, “and what differentiates us is we spent last July to this May working on bringing it to the American palate – something that Americans would respond to instantaneously.”
But what if consumers didn’t like steamed donuts, or what if the bakery couldn’t make the production process work. “It took a long time to get rid of the buts in that equation,” Pantazopoulos says. “You get a more gentle heat with steam.”
Having enjoyed a dozen of these magical treats (shipped overnight from Philadelphia to my home in Topeka, Kansas), I can attest these donuts are, indeed, fabulous, lasting for the following two days and still great for another three. And that kind of shelf life is not something I had witnessed from a freshly made donut.
“It is most flavorful, rich-textured donut I’ve ever had, and we are so proud of it,” the owner remarks. “The Yo is for Philly, and we put a trademark on the name. The Doyo is ultimately a product that sounds too good to be true.”
A second-generation bakery owner, Pantazopoulos launched the new product on June 4, National Donut Day, giving away several hundred free samples to eager, hungry customers.
Since that time, the bakery is selling 15 times as many donuts per week as they did before, delivering daily within a 25-mile radius. They take orders up until 6 p.m. for delivery the next day. They bake overnight so everything is fresh. The handcrafted donuts are shipped in a traditional white window box, and here’s the kicker: it’s a six-count box because “you don’t want dozen donut box with donuts flopping around inside. We really took time to plan this out. Now everyone is ordering dozens for delivery because it is something so special.”
Tiffany’s Bakery is a traditional family bakery, previously known best for its delicious strawberry shortcake. The Doyo is not a factory donut; the only machinery involved is a Belshaw depositor.
There are more than a dozen flavor options, including the following: Cinnamon Sugar, Chocolate Covered,
Vanilla Glazed, M&Ms, Sprinkles, Maple Bacon, Double Chocolate Covered, Chocolate Glazed, Chocolate with Reeses Chips, Chocolate with Sprinkles, Chocolate Oreo, Red Velvet, Strawberry, Raspberry, Lemon Poppy, and Coconut.
The Doyo is made in a steam oven for starters, giving it a moist and tender profile. Compared to a fried donut, the Doyo has a cleaner flavor, and with as many as 25% fewer calories and as much as 50% less fat, it’s an indulgence you can feel good about.
“I am the ultimate donut fan, and this is the donut I have been dreaming of my whole life,” says Pantazopoulos. “The fact that it also happens to be healthier is a source of pride since it means you can enjoy this treat more often; and we all need as much happiness as we can get these days.”
Tiffany’s Bakery is a Philadelphia favorite for iconic products like its strawberry shortcake, spectacular themed cakes and all the treats from fan-favorite Danish to cookies and cupcakes.
Family owned and operated since 1977, they have taken pride in serving generations of Philadelphia families. Pioneers in bakery e-commerce, their website allows for customization and next-day ordering, all delivered door-to-door. Corporate clients love Tiffany’s for on-time delivery and honestly delicious local catering trays. With two convenient Center City locations, Tiffany’s is on a growth path and on a mission to bring homemade bakery nostalgia just like you remember, to today’s customers who expect superior convenience and value.