If something has the power to bring me instantly back to Portland’s atmosphere, it’s a pink cardboard box that we cut and framed above our stairs after we came back from our trip to Oregon. What contained that box when we got home? Well… nothing because its content had vanished in a few hours… before the flight back to Belgium. But previously, it was filled with nothing less than the best donuts I’ve ever tasted!
What’s the one thing you can spot either in the arms of a mother with her children, a tattooed skater or a businessman when you visit Portland? A pink cardboard box, decorated with a crazy design. If you try to trace back to the source of the pink boxes, you’ll maybe find yourself in a queue to buy some of the most famous donuts in the area. But why are they so popular? « Magic is in the hole! » would probably answer their creators Kenneth Pogson (alias « Cat Daddy ») and Tres Shanon.
Tracing back to the source of the spell
Voodoo Doughnut was created in the years 2000 by two friends dreaming to start a business together. The first thing to decide was what to sell. They wanted something that would speak to the crowds, something fun, different… What about donuts? But first they needed to learn the tricks of the trade so they met professional donut makers in Los Angeles. At least, according to their website.
In fact, it’s often hard to distinguish legend from reality when you gather information about Voodoo. We first heard about them during our food tour in Portland. Our guide told us some of their first donuts were sprinkled with some sort of medication to cure hangover. I found it hard to believe but after some search on the web it seems to be true! Donuts with a NyQuil glazing or sprinkled with Pepto-Bismol were sold by Voodoo before Health Department noticed and put an end to it.
Voodoo Doughnut is a lot more than just a place selling donuts. Well their donuts are just scandalously delicious (at least for a European newbie like me)! But even before you taste them, the atmosphere of the place in itself makes you feel high. The crazy design and the fun quotes displayed on the boxes or on posters all over the place make you feel like you’ve entered a shop run by Willy Wonka & the Mad Hatter. Their name product, the « Voodoo Doughnut » is shaped like a little doll covered with a chocolate glazing, pierced by a pretzel, with a kind of blood-like strawberry gelly inside.
Even the names of the donuts are insanely funny: « Tex Ass Challenge », the evocative « Cock-N-Balls » (shaped as a… yeah, really!) or the « Triple Chocolate Penetration » (always fun to order one of these :-D). The pink boxes where they put the donuts are collector items in themselves (now you understand why we framed one).
At Voodoo Doughnut, creativity rules. No ingredient is excluded which can bring the strangest associations to life (there even had an oyster donut but it didn’t last long). Their donuts are covered with corn-flakes, chewing-gum, M&Ms or even bacon (the famous « Maple bar » is just to die for!). They have more than 100 different tastes (they also have more traditional tastes if you don’t feel like an adventurer…).
The path to world fame
Today Voodoo Donuts has become more than a local attraction and their popularity has spread far from Portland’s borders. Los Angeles Time called them an « International Touristic Attraction » and they even featured in Simpsons’ episode…
In 2008 the Portland Creme Donut became the official donut of the city of Portland (I didn’t know a city could have its official donut :-D). The resolution expressed Portlanders’ gratitude for providing employment opportunities in the area (it’s something you usually forget: the success of a local business is not only the money it brings but also the opportunities it creates for the community).
In december 2013, Voodoo opened a new shop in Denver Colorado bringing the number of their establishments to 4 (2 in Portland, 1 in Eugene and 1 in Denver). In other words, the future seems bright for Voodoo Doughnut! And this makes me happy because I really hope I can taste more of their donuts (and of course a Maple Bar) when I go back to Portland!
Voodoo Doughnut ONE
22 SW 3rd Avenue Portland Oregon, U.S.A.
Open 24/7 except on Thanksgiving
Voodoo Doughnut Too (TWO)
1501 N.E. Davis St. in Portland Oregon, U.S.A.
Open 24/7 except on Thanksgiving
More reason to visit Portland and Oregon
We’ve fallen in love with Oregon, and not only because of Voodoo Doughnuts…