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Voodoo Doughnut

April 8, 2015

A year or so ago, I was having a conversation with one of my co-workers about our various travel adventures.  I had mentioned to her that my husband and I had contemplated a trip to Portland, Oregon, but that it hadn’t quite panned out.  Instead, that year over Christmas my husband and I had flown to Phoenix, Arizona.  But, before I knew that our trip to Portland wouldn’t work out, she had said to me that if I ever got the opportunity to go to Portland that there were 2 specific eateries that I should check out.  One of those was a doughnut place that she said I just had to try out for myself because it was just too weird to explain.  Since that conversation, I had seen another friend of mine who had traveled to Portland make a stop at this same doughnut shop.  So, when my husband and I were finally headed to Portland, I told my husband that this doughnut shop would definitely be on our list of places we had to check out.

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Voodoo Doughnut is the brainchild of two longtime friends who decided together that they wanted to start some sort of crazy, wacky business that would fit the weird, eclectic vibe of Portland.  The biggest problem they had was they didn’t know what kind of business they wanted to start.  After much thought, they came up with the idea to open up a doughnut shop.  With neither of them having any knowledge of how to make doughnuts, they sought out the advice and tutelage of some doughnut masters and from there learned the skills necessary to make a basic doughnut.  They then turned the basic doughnut idea on its head by coming up with some of the craziest, wackiest, and most inventive doughnut creations ever.  They established their first location in the heart of Old Town Portland, a neighborhood that they called the “crotch” of the city.  Today, Voodoo Doughnuts has grown into a cult legend and has expanded into 5 total shops, including 2 full service shops and a food cart in Portland, a full service shop in Eugene and even a full service shop in Denver, Colorado.

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With this original store located in Old Town, it may not be in the most desirable neighborhood ever, but, that’s the beauty of why the founders wanted to open their store here, to help revive the neighborhood and its surrounds.  Bordered by Chinatown, the nearby rescue mission, and a police precinct, the shop is most recognizable for its neon pink sign and its constant, never ending line out front.  We visited Voodoo on a Saturday morning around 11 am when it was cold, windy and slightly drizzly, and there might have been 10 people standing outside in line accompanied by another 10 or so people standing inside the store waiting in line.  We came by this location again on Saturday night around 6:30 pm when it was even colder and rainier and wouldn’t you know it, the line was twice as long as when we were there during the day.  We finally walked by Voodoo Doughnut around 10 pm Saturday night and the line was even longer then.  It’s crazy how much people are willing to do to buy some doughnuts.  It’s a good thing that this doughnut shop is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  I guess Portland residents and tourists just can’t get enough of the yeasty goodness.IMG_6180

Once you get through the line outside the store, you get step into a very eclectically decorated store inside complete with custom stained glass that depict some famous celebrities, and of course the famous voodoo doughnut himself.  The garish chandeliers, hanging from the ceiling and pink lighting all add to the creativity and style that have given Voodoo Doughnuts the name reputation it has.

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There’s a menu board that adorns the back wall of the store, right behind the cash registers.  The menu board lists all the different kinds of doughnuts being served in-store that day.  The doughnuts are broken down into the following different categories: cake doughnuts, vegan doughnuts, cruellers, raised doughnuts and fritters.  Below each category is a detailed description of what kind of doughnuts Voodoo Doughnut makes in each category.

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If the board is too hard to read, there are revolving glass cases up at the front of the store next to the cash registers.  Each glass case contains shelves filled with various doughnuts on display that rotate around.  If you can’t decide what you want to order when you reach the register, just look at the glass display case and point to what you want.  When you place your order, the clerk goes to the back where the doughnuts are lined up on racks and grabs what you order before it’s boxed up for you.

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Some of the fun in going to Voodoo Doughnut isn’t just for the doughnuts you order, but looking at the glass revolving display case to see all of the doughnuts are available.  There’s the blueberry cake doughnut with glaze that’s pretty easy to spot in the display case.  I kind of thought that my husband might have chosen that doughnut, but then again, its probably one of the plainest doughnuts on Voodoo’s menu.  Other familiar doughnuts include the old fashioned with glaze, the chocolate or maple old fashioned, the lemon chiffon crueller, French glazed crueller, chocolate, maple or cinnamon sugar cruellers as well.  Theres also the vanilla plain cake doughnut with sprinkles, chocolate frosting plain cake doughnut, and the chocolate bar and maple bar.  Then you get to some of your more unique, and creative doughnuts.  There’s the triple chocolate penetration doughnut made with a chocolate doughnut with chocolate glaze and topped chocolate pebbles cereal.  There’s the Tex-Ass challenge doughnut, which in and of itself isn’t that unique of a flavor as it’s just a glazed doughnut, but the challenge comes in the fact that it’s the size of 6 normal doughnuts that can be yours for free if you can eat the entire doughnut within 80 seconds.  Next to the Tex-Ass Challenge bought is the Old Dirty Bastard doughnut named after the rapper made with a raised yeast doughnut topped with chocolate frosting, Oreo’s and peanut butter.  Not the kind of doughnut you see every day.

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It gets even more creative than that.  There’s The Loop doughnut which is a raised ring doughnut with vanilla frosting topped with fruit loop cereals.  The Voodoo Bubble doughnut stands out with its pink frosting top made from bubble gum dust atop vanilla frosting with a piece of bubble gum in the middle.  How about the dirt doughnut which is a raised yeast doughnut topped with vanilla frosting and Oreos.  Next to the Voodoo Bubble doughnut is the Miami Vice Berry doughnut which has vanilla frosting topped with blue raspberry powder over half the doughnut and raspberry sprinkles over the other half of the doughnut.  Mixed in there is the Orange Tang doughnut which is a doughnut topped with vanilla frosting, Tang (to give it it’s nice yellow color) and a side of orange sprinkles.  Mixed in there is also the Grape Ape doughnut which is a doughnut with vanilla frosting, grape dust to give it a light purple color and lavender sprinkles.  And down on the bottom shelf, I spy the Dirty Snowballs doughnut which is a chocolate cake doughnut with marshmallow topping, dipped in coconut with a dollop of peanut butter right in the middle over the hole. For a fruitier doughnut, try the Mango Tango doughnut, which is a raised yeast shell filled with mango jelly and topped with vanilla frosting and tang.

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There was the Old Dirty Bastard doughnut, now here’s the Marshall Mathers doughnut, which is a plain cake doughnut with vanilla frosting and topped in mini M&M’s.  Next to that is the peanut doughnut, a chocolate cake doughnut with chocolate frosting and a peanut topping.  Towards the back is the Ain’t That a Peach Fritter doughnut which is a peach fritter topped with cream cheese frosting topped with pink and orange sprinkles.  Next to that is the Diablos Rex doughnut which is a chocolate cake doughnut with chocolate frosting, red sprinkles a piped on vanilla frosting pentagram and chocolate sprinkles filling in the hole.  There’s the Tangfastic doughnut which is a plain cake doughnut with vanilla frosting, tang for the yellow color, and three marshmallows filling the hole.  Next to that is the Arnold Palmer doughnut with vanilla frosting and a lemonade/ice tea dust on top.  For something a little more familiar, there’s the normal Apple Fritter doughnut which is just a fried doughnut with apple chunks and cinnamon covered in glaze.

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I spy the McMinnville Cream doughnut, which I was very tempted to order made with a raised yeast shell filled with Bavarian cream and topped with maple frosting and a set of eyes with a mustache.  One of Voodoo’s more popular doughnuts is the maple bacon doughnut which is basically a maple bar with strips of bacon atop it for the sweet and savory feel.  How about the chocolate coconut doughnut which is a chocolate doughnut topped with chocolate frosting and coconut flakes.  Want something a little spicy?  Try the Mexican Hot Chocolate doughnut which is a chocolate cake doughnut dusted in cinnamon sugar and a bit of cayenne pepper.  To round out the one of the more creative doughnuts, there’s the Maple Blazer Blunt doughnut which is a raised yeast doughnut rolled into a blunt and dusted with cinnamon sugar, the tip is dipped in maple frosting and red sprinkle embers to look like a lit up blunt.

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Once you’ve made your selections, you walk out of the store with the pink Voodoo Doughnut cake box.  There is no place inside the store to sit and eat your goodies.  There are, however, some tables just outside of the store that you can take your chances on as it’s Portland, which means it’s usually cold, windy and rainy!  But, as the pink box says, “Good Things Come in Pink Boxes!” and waiting to dig into your Voodoo Doughnut purchases is pretty much unheard of.

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My husband and I chose 4 doughnuts between the two of us, 2 for each of us.  My first choice was the Portland Cream doughnut.  Named after the city of Portland, it’s a raised yeast doughnut filled with Bavarian cream, topped with chocolate, and two white cream doughnuts which are supposed to represent the vision of the city of Portland.  If you know anything about me, you know that I can’t resist eclairs, not so much because of the éclair itself, but for the fact that I’m a huge lover of Bavarian cream.  So you can bet that as soon as I see a doughnut on the menu filled with Bavarian cream, I’m all over it.  A fried dough, chocolate coating and stuffed with Bavarian cream, could there be anything better?  The doughnut was delicious and fresh, and I loved the Bavarian cream inside, which was plentiful.  The doughnut was also much more filling than I had anticipated and made it difficult for me to finish my second doughnut.

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My husband’s first choice was the signature Voodoo Doll doughnut.  Made from a raised yeast doughnut, it is filled with raspberry jelly and topped with chocolate frosting.  Each Voodoo Doll is hand decorated with a different personality and is meant to be representative of a real Voodoo Doll.  The final part of the Voodoo Doll is the pretzel stake that is driven through the Voodoo Dolls “heart.”  In my husband’s case, his Voodoo Doll was decorated as a long, pink-haired girl dressed in a yellow bikini.  Quite comical, and cute.  Of course, my husband decided to enjoy his Voodoo Doll by eating off her head first in one fell swoop, er bite.  The frosting on the doll was sweet, but the raspberry filling and the chocolate frosting were good and tasty.  It was the characteristics of the Voodoo Doll that was the most entertaining, especially seeing this yellow bikini on a drizzly, windy cold day in Portland.

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For my second doughnut, I chose the Memphis Mafia doughnut.  This doughnut was way more massive than I had anticipated and much more filling, especially after having just finished off a Bavarian cream doughnut.  I was stuffed to the gills.  The Memphis Mafia is fried dough mixed with banana chunks and cinnamon and then covered with a glaze with chocolate frosting, peanut butter, peanuts and chocolate chips on top.  The cinnamon with the banana chunks and fried dough was reminiscent of what an apple fritter would taste like, except this had bananas instead of apples.  The entire doughnut was heavy, and dense from the combination, but tasted wonderfully.  Not too much cinnamon to overpower the taste of the dough and the sweetness of the bananas.  Then you go and top the whole thing with a mixture of chocolate, peanut butter, peanuts and chocolate chips to take the whole thing over the top.  This doughnut is the perfect combination of creamy, salty peanut butter, sweet chocolate and fruity banana.  Though it was dense and heavy, it’s probably one of the better doughnuts I’ve ever tasted.

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The second doughnut my husband chose was more because I dared him to order it.  If he wasn’t going to order it, I was going to.  After the Voodoo Doughnut, this particular doughnut may be Voodoo’s best known creation.  This is the cock-n-balls doughnut.  Voodoo makes this doughnut two ways, either plain like the one we bought, or customized.  The customized doughnut comes with phrases written on the doughnut using frosting, phrases such as “bite me” and other colorful phrases.  The cock-n-balls is essentially a large, raised yeast doughnut triple filled with Bavarian cream and topped with chocolate frosting.  I don’t think I need to go into any details as to why it’s called a cock-n-balls doughnut, just look at the shape.  What surprised me about the doughnut itself was just how large it was.  The thing was massive, literally.  It was more like the size of 2.5 or 3 of my Portland Cream doughnuts put together.  As far as the doughnut itself goes, it’s essentially the same as the Portland Cream doughnut I had, so the taste of the doughnut was the same, just on a much larger scale.  Luckily, my husband is also a fan of Bavarian cream, so the more cream in the doughnut, the better.  And I admit, it was funny seeing him bite into this big cock-n-balls doughnut.

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Was Voodoo Doughnut as a doughnut shop any better or more spectacular than any other doughnut shop I’ve ever been to?  My husband and I agree that we weren’t blown away by the taste of the doughnuts alone.  But, where Voodoo Doughnuts makes their mark on the food scene is their creativity, and artistry in the design and flavor profile of their doughnuts.  The originality of the names, the designs and shapes of the doughnuts and the design and creativity in decorating the doughnuts is what makes Voodoo Doughnut standout from everyone else.  There’s a memorable quality to biting into a doughnut shaped like a Voodoo Doll or a cock-n-balls or a doughnut named after Marshall Mathers or Old Dirty Bastard.  It’s an experience you just don’t forget.  Couple that with the eclectic design of their stores with the stained glass and the display cases and the chandelier and the pink box of goodness, and this is definitely and experience from my trip to Portland that I’ll definitely recommend.  Ultimately, is this a bit of a tourist trap?  Sure it is.  But hey, as my husband pointed out to us, we were tourists visiting Portland, so why not?  When in Rome, or in this case, Portland…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Heather Morrow permalink
    April 8, 2015 9:58 pm

    Sounds like a lot of fun to pick a doughnut.

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