Donut forget Paula's
Paula's Donuts has become a staple for doughnuts in Buffalo
Cupcakes are crumbling. Doughnuts are dominating.
People were going crazy over bakeries that solely sold cupcakes, like Crumbs Bake Shop that closed all its locations briefly and reopened. But places like Doughnut Plant in New York City and Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon have started to create a new culture of specialty doughnuts.
Even a BuzzFeed article recently said, “Doughnuts are the new cupcake.”
These shops invent creative doughnut flavors, like cashew and orange blossom from Doughnut Plant, and even base these doughy creations on cereal like the Captain my Captain doughnut from Voodoo that takes it inspiration from Captain Crunch cereal.
There is, however, a place in Buffalo where you can take part in the doughnut craze, but also enjoy a good old fashion doughnut – Paula’s Donuts.
Most Buffalonians are aware of Paula’s. But when I first discovered it, I was in love.
One day, my roommates and I were driving down Sheridan when I passed the huge red blocky sign.
Inside, the air smelled like glazed sugar and coffee. Most of the flavors were simple or classic like jelly and chocolate frosted (which is my particular favorite). They even offered more adventurous ones like strawberry shortcake and maple bacon. But even with these other flavors, the doughnuts remain incredibly classic. The interior diner-like seats create a comfortable air that makes it acceptable to just sit and eat a donut and nothing else.
Even the bags the doughnuts come in a paper bag with friendly drawn-on doughnuts people.
On days when my roommates and I were especially stressed, we would drive down to Paula’s and order a couple doughnuts to sit and eat.
I would consider myself a semi-doughnut connoisseur. My addiction first started with my first job at a Dunkin’ Donuts in the summer after ninth grade, way before this recent craze. It’s hard being surrounded by racks of the treat and not become a little obsessed.
With a fellow doughnuts lover, I even once timed a nine-hour Amtrak trip from Buffalo to NYC to arrive before a doughnut shop closed so we could try a new flavor. I probably should be a little embarrassed, but I have no regrets.
When I first came to Buffalo from New York City, Tim Horton’s was already a new experience for me. One summer taking classes at UB left me very familiar with their doughnuts, as Tim Horton’s was one of only two places open on campus.
But eating doughnuts from Tim Horton’s or Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t give the same feeling as one from Paula’s Donuts. One can taste the mass production in the sprinkles.
I know it’s almost sickening to think about eating too many doughnuts, and I agree they should be eaten in moderation. As someone who actively creates meals around “superfoods” like kale, lentils and tofu, I am completely aware of the health effects of a doughnut. But what is the point of the culture of food if we don’t indulge, and doughnuts are my indulgent sin.
Even comparing the specialty places I’ve tried in New York City, Paula’s Donuts now holds a special place in my heart. Paula’s reminds me of my favorite doughnut store by far, a neighborhood store simply called Donut Shoppe. It’s a store I will continuously go back to every time I’m home.
While no place has been able to trump my neighborhood store, it’s comforting to know that Buffalo offers a little reminder of the comforts of my favorite sweet treat.