How Far Would You Drive For A Good Doughnut?
Doughnuts evoke a variety of reactions from people who enjoy eating. Some people can’t get enough. Others turn up their noses. And still more people are like me: it has to be just the right doughnut.
But one thing I’ve found is that doughnuts are becoming like barbecue. People are willing to get in their cars and drive tens or even hundreds of miles for a good doughnut.
Last week, Janice Waugh, the creator of the Solo Traveler blog, came over from Toronto to speak with my students at Central Michigan University. I took Janice to a cooking class at The Market On Main, and I’d suggested seeing a movie on her second evening in town. Of course, I joked over peppermint tea in our hotel lobby, we could drive up to Clare, Mich., and visit Cops and Doughnuts. My brother had suggested I pay a visit, since Clare is just a short drive from Mt. Pleasant.
The desk clerk, a Clare native, overheard us, and you’d think I’d suggested a visit to the Eiffel Tower. We got a lengthy explanation of the history of Cops and Doughnuts, which was founded by nine police officers in Clare who were distraught at the idea of losing their favorite bakery. She was so enthusiastic that Janice and I decided we had to make the trip.
So, off we went to find that Cops and Doughnuts isn’t just a shop. It’s a multi-storefront tourist attraction. Along with doughnuts, it sells Amish fried pies, breads, and cookies. There’s a lunch counter called the Traffic Stop Diner, and a sprawling gift shop decorated with cop memorabilia from Clare, surrounding cities, and displays dozens of patches from police around the country. The walls sport a map with pins from places all over the country and the world where visitors hail from.
We got the sense that this place is packed in the summer, since Clare is considered the gateway to northern Michigan. You go right through here on the trek to Mackinac Island, and it’s an easy stop on the way to vacation towns like Traverse City, Petoskey and Charlevoix.
But Cops and Doughnuts isn’t the only good place in Michigan or the country to find doughnuts. Here’s an admittedly incomplete list of some good doughnut places that I’ve visited in my travels.
To make the list, doughnuts have to be easily available (none of those stand in line for an hour places), and affordable — my aim is to recommend places where doughnuts cost $1 or less. I also insist that the shop feature my favorite kind of doughnuts, which are glazed cakes. I don’t like overly frosted or spongy doughnuts, although I make an exception for Robaire’s red velvet doughnut with cream cheese frosting. (Janice liked it, too.)
I asked my Twitter followers to suggest some ideas. If you’re out on the road, or in one of these places for business, please feel free to nominate your favorite spot in comments or on our Facebook page.
Cops And Doughnuts, 521 North McEwan Street, Clare, MI 48617 (989) 386-2241. Doughnuts, fried pies, lunch, drinks, bread. Available online.