Return Of The Forbidden Amish Donut

amish donutsGod bless the Amish and their otherworldly donuts. In January, I wrote a piece about the “forbidden” Amish donuts and other treats available in Cattaraugus County, New York, and this week I returned to the area for yet another feast. As I wrote in the previous piece, the Route 62 Amish corridor in Western New York is convenient to nothing and en route to nowhere, so anytime I make a trip there, it’s a serious detour.

On my last visit, I practically had to twist my wife’s arm to make the 60-mile detour, and this time, she flat-out refused to go.

“You’re going to drive 60 miles to buy a donut?” she asked condescendingly.

“It’s not just a donut,” I replied. “I’m probably going to get a whole bunch. And there’s the chocolates too.”

My mother, who lives near Buffalo, only 60 miles away from Amish country, but never goes there, was even harsher.

“You’re not going all the way down there for donuts,” she commanded. “We have a place right down the street called Paula’s, which has even better donuts than the Amish.”This sounded like blasphemy to my ears, but after noticing that the place has 38 reviews on Yelp with an average rating of five stars, I figured I had to at least give the place a shot. So my mom and I went to Paula’s the following morning and I bought a half dozen donuts.

glazed donuts paulas buffaloHow good were they? I have to admit, they were very solid. But their glazed donuts (right) are heavier, and more cake-like than the Amish ones, and most of the glazing caked off and was sitting in little bits on my plate after I finished it. Not only that, the Paula’s donut costs 15 cents more than the Amish one and is about half the size. With all due respect to Paula’s, their product is good, but it’s not a sell-your-soul-to-the-devil-it’s-so-good Amish donut.

The following day, I told my wife and mother – the Amish donut heretics – that I was taking my dad and my two sons, ages 2 and 4, to get some Amish donuts and chocolates with or without them. They elected not to come and we called it a men’s Amish excursion.

I felt nervous as we pulled up in front of the Miller family home at 12624 Rt. 62 in Conewango Valley for two reasons: I always live in fear that they’ll be out of my favorite maple-glazed donuts, and I’d printed out a copy of the Forbidden Donut story I wrote and planned to give it to them.

I’ve written close to 1,000 stories for a wide variety of publications over the years, but, thanks to email, I have never actually printed out a story, hand delivered it to the person I wrote about and then stood there as they read it. But one cannot email the Amish, and I wanted them to see what I wrote about their magnificent donuts, so this was the only option.

amish baked good shopIn the winter, the Millers sell their baked goods inside their home but in the summer, they use a shed out front, so I stepped into the little shed, surveyed the shelves and panicked when I saw no donuts.

“Please tell me you have some maple-glazed donuts,” I said to the teenage Amish girl sitting at a small counter in the shed.

“They’re all gone,” she said. “Yuri took the whole tray we baked to a wedding.”

I repeated the second half of her statement in complete disbelief. He took the whole tray to a wedding?

“What wedding?” I asked, probably sounding like a lunatic. “Where is it?”

The teen measured me and the wild look in my eyes and wisely chose to change the subject.

“Well, we do have some regular glazed donuts I could give you,” she said.

I took a deep breath and felt a huge sense of relief. I did not want to return to Buffalo with no donuts, only to have the two heretics say, “You drove 120 miles round trip and they didn’t even have donuts!?”

amish foodI bought a half dozen of the sweet, beautiful monsters and asked to speak to the teen’s mother. Her mom came out and I introduced myself and handed her the printed copy of the article for her inspection. She stood there reading it on the side of the shed as I bit into my first donut and felt overcome in a wave of euphoria. It wasn’t quite like the maple-glazed baby – damn you Yuri – but it beat the crap out of Paula’s donut and any other one available in a shop.

I watched Mrs. Miller and took delight in noticing a sly, little smile and a sense of satisfaction on her face as she read the piece. But after a minute or two, she looked up from the paper and said, “My name is not Sarah, it’s Barbara!”

I wrote the piece based upon my recollection and had confused her with another Amish shopkeeper I’d met that day. Whoops. But she didn’t seem bent of shape about it, and although she didn’t say so, I could tell she liked the article because after she read it she was beaming.




My dad, my two year old and I sat in the car devouring our donuts in the mid-day sun, as my four year old stubbornly insisted on eating a ring pop rather than the world-class donuts.

“Can we go to the candy shop?” he asked.

Only in Amish country does one not think twice about bringing kids to a donut and bake shop and then proceeding directly to a candy store, but when in Rome, right? So our happy little sweets caravan moseyed over to Malinda’s Candy Shop at 12656 Youngs Road, and I presented Malinda with a copy of the piece I wrote.

She sat and read it while we perused $3 bags of peanut butter bars, coconut clusters, chocolate covered pretzels, cashew clusters and chocolate covered Oreos and then elected to get one of each.

amish kitchenMalinda smiled as she read the article but didn’t offer a comment or opinion on what I wrote. But I knew she liked it, because when I asked to film and photograph her kitchen, where she makes the chocolates, the last time I was there she said no but this time she said, “Well, it’s not very clean but sure, go ahead.”

We made a few more stops, dodging horseshit and buggies in the region’s wonderfully quite, bucolic, hilly country lanes and then returned home to share the booty with the two unbelievers.

“Was it worth it?” my mom asked, her mouth half full of cashew clusters.

“Damn right it was,” I said.

amish donutLong live the Amish, and their killer donuts and sweets.

Update July 17: I received a message from a reader (see photo right) who took a detour to get some forbidden donuts and they report that by 4 p.m. the donuts didn’t taste very fresh. Nonetheless, they still enjoyed the experience but this is probably a good tip. There are no preservatives in these donuts and they’re probably best in the morning, right after they are baked. The photo above is of Timmy with some forbidden donuts.



New Website Commemorates War Of 1812

War of 1812
While events commemorating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War are happening all over the country, the bicentennial of the War of 1812 has received less attention.

Now, a new website created by the New York State Museum provides information on the war and events and activities commemorating it. Much of the fighting took place along the New York-Canadian border, although battles were fought as far away as New Orleans and Washington, D.C., which got burned by a British invasion force. The image above, painted on the spot by George Munger, shows the White House as a gutted ruin.

The War of 1812 website offers a wealth of information on the conflict, including a timeline, biographies of key figures, and important documents. It’s also open for submissions if you have written something about the war or you have an ancestor who was affected by it. Of interest to travelers is the resources section, showing upcoming events such as reenactments.

New York State Museum celebrates 175th anniversary

New York State Museum, mastadon
The New York State Museum is getting old enough to be a museum piece itself. At 175 years it’s the oldest state museum in the country (and the largest), yet it’s constantly renewing its exhibitions and is anything but old and stuffy.

To celebrate, the museum is having a special exhibit called From the Collections, which shows the museum’s origins from an 1836 survey of the state’s geology, plants, and animals. Some of these original collections are on display, including minerals, the baleen of a whale, and information about some of the early researchers who got the museum going. One popular item is the Weebermobile, a one-cylinder car built in 1903 by Christian Weeber Jr. He began building cars in Albany as early as the 1890s.

Then there are the regular displays, such as the Native American art, a collection of Shaker artifacts, photos of Harlem in the 1920s, and a mastodon, shown here this photo courtesy Bob Keefer.

From the Collections runs until 1 April 2012.

Free condoms in New York City? Safe sex is only an app away, so tap that app today!

condom, condomsThe New York City Health Department is serious about safe sex. So serious, in fact, that it gives away a staggering three million free condoms every month. Now they want to make sure everyone knows where to find these little packets of joy. They’ve come out with an app for the iPhone and Android phones that shows you exactly where the five closest distribution points are. And with more than a thousand locations all over the city, you won’t have to go far to ensure a lower risk of pregnancy and STDs.

The NYC Condom Finder not only tells you where the distributions points are, but also their hours of operation, and what other safe sex products are available there. To get it, users of Android or Apple mobile phones should search for “NYC Condom” in the Android Market or the iPhone App Store.

Despite the title of this post, safe sex is serious business. HIV is still a deadly problem, as are numerous other STDs. Consistent use of a condom seriously reduces the risk of catching these infections.

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley says, “Using a condom every time you have sex protects you and your partner from contracting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Condoms also prevent unintended pregnancy.

Well said, Dr. Farley. So if you’re going to play, please play carefully.

Birthplace of Memorial Day offers festival and small town charm

Back in 1865, Henry C. Wells, a druggist in Waterloo, New York thought that honoring all American soldiers who died in a war was a fitting gesture. The following year, Waterloo threw the first Memorial Day celebration on May 5. The holiday caught on, and in 1966 Lyndon Johnson signed a Presidential Proclamation declaring Waterloo the “Birthplace of Memorial Day,” something the town takes quite seriously.

Instead of focusing only on Monday, the town includes the entire weekend for festivities. Located in between Cayuga and Seneca Lakes in the Finger Lakes region of New York, this would be a place to head to for a mix of the outdoors and history. Unlike Ithaca that wants you to stay away for Memorial Day festivities because of Cornell’s graduation that adds plenty of people to Ithaca’s streets, Waterloo wants you.

As a person who is a festival hound, Waterloo looks like the perfect way to kick-off the summer season of festival hopping. All the trimmings are there and most activities are free, or budget friendly. Events start this weekend and finish up on May 30, the official date of Memorial Day.

Activities are family friendly and include a breakfast buffet, 5-K run, car show, bike rally, a concert stage with multiple concerts and acts, an arts and crafts show, plus a Memorial Day Commemoration by Waterloo veterans. Of course there’s the parade that anyone can join in and fireworks. For the schedule, click here.

There are also special events for the younger crowd. At the Kids’ Korner there are games, crafts, goodie bags, animals, a clown and a juggler, depending upon the time you’re there.

One item in particular caught my eye. Bubblemania, a one-person performance by Casey Carle will be on the Layfette Stage. According to the info on the festival Website, Carle has been performing in India on a 16-day tour. I’m always curious to find out how performers from various countries end up performing where they do, whether they are from the U.S. and end up overseas or groups from other countries that end up here, particularly on a small town stage. If you see him, ask him.

If you head to Waterloo, also check out the National Memorial Day Museum, and the American Civil War Memorial and take a ride on the Finger Lakes Scenic Railway.