Spudnuts (Apr, 1952)

What a great name. I’d never heard of Spudnuts before reading this but now I’m curious to try them. They seem to still be around.

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Their Potatoes Make Dough

Don’t say doughnuts to the Pelton brothers, say Spudnuts. They glamorized the lowly spud and made themselves a fortune in the process.

By H. W. Kellick

AL and Bob Pelton were suckers for sinkers—doughnuts, that is. They’d eaten glazed doughnuts, chocolate covered doughnuts and just plain doughnuts. They were also eager to make lots of money and doughnuts got them to thinking.

“Why can’t we invent a new kind of doughnut?” Al said one day over a cup of coffee and a doughnut. Just like that.

Today, the brothers Pelton never mention the word doughnut. Say Spudnut and you’ll draw a smile from them, though. For they’re out to supplant the common doughnut with their million-dollar idea—a delicious potato pastry.

As a matter of fact, the Peltons are now selling more than three-quarters of a million dozen Spudnuts per month. To date they’ve franchised 350 shops throughout the United States, Canada, Alaska and Hawaii.

When the brothers hit on the Spudnut idea, they spent endless hours planning on how to get started. If they could introduce their product they felt that they could certainly earn more money than they were getting at their respective jobs as electrical-appliance salesman and drugstore clerk.

Between them they had $75 in cash. That was enough to rent a tiny store. There, they started to work out their formula—dough tastefully flavored with potato water. The idea failed. They thought for awhile that they were washed up and their big dream shattered.

Undaunted, they continued to experiment. This time they tried mashed-potato doughnuts. After making a batch, they passed out a few samples among friends. The golden brown potato doughnuts looked attractive and the folks liked the taste of this product. Even the smell was wonderful. Everyone, who sampled the doughnuts liked them.

Satisfied with their invention, the Peltons held a minor celebration. They staged a little party and in an informal ceremony they christened their product Spudnut.

Handicapped by lack of money, the boys at first worked without modern equipment. Like Army KP’s they peeled and mashed thousands of potatoes by hand until they saw potatoes in their sleep.

Slowly, they introduced their brainchild to the local public. The customers gobbled them up and came back for repeat orders. Soon the brothers had saved enough to buy an automatic peeler and masher.

Experimenting further, the boys tried out many new methods to ease their labors. Finally, they hit on a dry potato mix that eliminated all their major troubles. There were no more tough sessions peeling and mashing potatoes.

Shortly after the Peltons got started they received many requests from local dealers who desired to handle the Spudnut product. At first, the Peltons rebelled. They wanted to hog the idea for themselves. Then the boys got to thinking. If a whole lot of dealers handled Spudnuts, they reasoned, we might get into the franchise business and thus spread our Spudnuts all over the world.

Within a few months, the Peltons entered the franchise business. The idea grew so rapidly that soon it was necessary to set up a special Franchise Department. Salt Lake City became the home base where a complete mix plant and warehouse is in operation.

Shipping to distant points became an important part of the new, growing enterprise. So the Peltons looked around for a suitable distribution area. After considering many cities, they settled on Cleveland, Ohio, to act as a pivot in handling distribution throughout the east.

Now they’re planning to build prefabricated stores which can be put up in a jiffy. The Peltons expect to be roaring into action with their ready-made stores soon. Anyone with as little as $1,750 can get started with a Spudnut Shop. For this money, the Peltons furnish a franchise and all the necessary production equipment.

Of course, the new operator must set up and pay for the decoration of his store. On the whole, the average Spudnut Shop costs $5,000 to open up for business.

Included in cost of a franchise is a half ton of mix—ten 100-pound bags, enough to produce 1,680 dozen Spudnuts. With Spudnuts selling at 50c a dozen, this represents $840 of the initial franchise fee back.

There’s no stopping the brothers now. And should you ever meet them, remember, don’t mention the word doughnut. They abhor it. In fact, they’re working on a little deal right now with a guy named Webster—they want to replace the word doughnut with Spudnut in the dictionary.

52 comments
  1. mckenzie says: May 24, 20067:10 am

    There’s still at least one Spudnut shop operating, here in Charlottesville Virginia. And I’ll tell you, as a big doughnut lover (dad was a cop) they’ll the best.

  2. John Watson says: August 10, 200612:27 pm

    There is a Spudnuts here on Orangethorpe Ave in Anaheim California. But, I am having a difficult time getting straight answers out of the owners as to whether this was from original franchise or is the name free domain?

  3. Mary Taylor says: August 10, 20062:41 pm

    My daughters remember Spudnuts from highschool(1940′s) and were thrilled to find one in Richland, Wa. Are there any shops in the Spokane,WA/Coeur d’Alene,Id area?

  4. Randy Nies says: September 9, 20076:38 pm

    Hi to everyone, My name is Randy Nies and I own a spudnut shop in Dumas Texas,and I must say that I also have eaten what is called spudnuts in the past that im sure are not, I also have bought the recipe for the spudnut donut and I think that we should have a donut cookoff and see who really has the best and true spudnut… any comments please send Thanks

  5. James says: December 25, 20079:28 pm

    In Milwaukee WI during the late 60′s and early 70′s there was a Spudnut shop on Milwaukees north side.With a family of nine.My father would treat us on saturday mornings by purchasing 2 boxes of spudnut doughnuts..You will never forget the taste of this product..We still talk about them to this day and thats is 25 years ago..

  6. Wanda Carwile says: March 28, 20082:33 pm

    Saw the following post and wondered if Franchises are still available or if the recipe can be
    bought. We had one of these back in the early ’60′s in my hometown in Alabama and I loved them.
    They just melted in your mouth. I would love to have the recipe just to bake them for special
    occassions for my family. Any information available. Thanks, Wanda

    “Hi to everyone, My name is Randy Nies and I own a spudnut shop in Dumas Texas,and I must say that I also have eaten what is called spudnuts in the past that im sure are not, I also have bought the recipe for the spudnut donut and I think that we should have a donut cookoff and see who really has the best and true spudnut… any comments please send Thanks”

  7. George Mathis says: April 20, 20088:50 am

    My grandmother ran a spudnut shop in Logan, West Virginia in the 1950′s. I saw a T.V. program this morning (April 20, 2008) that reminded me of that shop. This led me to do some research to see if today’s products cost $$$$ would allow going into that business. What do you think?

  8. Larry DeWees says: April 23, 200812:25 am

    I am located in New Mexico and would like to start a Spudnut Shop like to one that was in my town when I was a boy. It seems like it is a big secret when trying to find out about franchise information. If anyone knows how I can find out the ins and outs of the Spudnut business would they please respond. I thank you in advance.

  9. Jamie says: June 2, 200812:28 pm

    My Dad starts his morning every day with a trip to spudnuts. He says every destination starts from spudnuts. He won’t go anywhere else and he’s been going there since before I can remember. I have to admit, it holds fond memories for me as well, since he would quite often take me there after school or a doctor’s visit. He has recently settled for wafflehouse since the spudnuts in Mentor, Ohio is not open everyday for him.

  10. Mike says: June 5, 20085:06 pm

    Ah! – Spudnuts – Memories – Time period 1954/55 – Door to Door selling
    As a young kid I remember someone had a franchise in the Austin, MN area.
    They hired a few of us to sell Spudnuts door to door in the Rochester, MN area on Satuday mornings.
    I had a regular route – sort like a trap line – lots of fun.
    I did it for a few months – good memories. Great experience meeting people / selling / etc.
    Moved on to being a “paper boy” ( today – delivery person )for a couple of years.
    For some reason today I recalled the term: Spudnuts – wondered what had happened.
    Like life – things go in cycles – Someday someone will rekindle the “flame/embers” for those wonderful spudnuts on a national basis. As I see from the websites – They are still available in limited areas of the U.S.
    “Memories”
    Mike

  11. Brenda Forman says: June 6, 200812:59 am

    Well, I too grew up on spudnuts in a little town called Pampa Texas and have always wonderd why the franchise didnt. Lasts..

    Funny Randy from Dumas, Texas. My daughter was born there in the mid 80′s and is no Gluten
    intolerant (celiac disease). Which means she will never eat a doughnut ever aging without severe
    health problems. ut she can have potatoes, rice, corn. Is there anyway to get the recipe or ingrediants for franchise info. we live in SE texas now .. Maybe the franchise thing could come back.

  12. Barry Drufner says: July 4, 20087:26 am

    I owned and operated a Spudnut Shop in New Orleans,La. from 1955 until 1970.A lot of fond memories anda hell of a lot of hard work.You were married to the Spudnut Shop.Never had a day off for the
    first ten years and never took a vacation. Switched my operation to making Buscuits(1/4 the
    prep time.

  13. Wanda says: July 4, 20081:05 pm

    I too am wondering why everything is so hush, hush about the Spudnut franchises. Are there not any available anymore? I’ve heard from several that would love the start a shop in their hometown.

  14. Leah says: August 2, 20081:43 pm

    My name is Leah Skinner and I grew up in Richland Washington where one of hte most successful Spudnut shop is still open. I no longer live in Washington and would like to open up a Spudnut shop where I live. I too am having a hard time trying to find out franchise information. If someone who owns a shop would be kind enough to contact me I would appreciate it. [email protected]. Thanks

  15. Scott Umland says: August 8, 20089:46 am

    I think Spudnuts would be a great addition to the New York City area. I would like information about every thing involved in starting a Spudnut franchise.
    thanks

  16. Strong says: August 10, 20083:34 am

    We had one in Jamestown NY during the 50s. A great family treat was heading over there with my father to bring home a dozen. You can Google to find a list of the remaining shops…mostly on the LA area.

  17. mike says: September 17, 20081:06 pm

    Back in the late 1950′s to about 1963 I lived in Columbia MO – I was 9 in 1958 and I sold newspapers on the street, the Columbia Tribune and the Columbia Missourian – plus many other odd jobs such as cleaning gutters and weeding gardens and collecting soda bottles at the building site of the hospital – there was a spud nut shop near the red campus where I picked up papers for the Columbia Missourian – I loved them ( the spud nuts )- one day I asked the owners if I could load bags of them in the baskets of my bike ( front and bothe sides ) get them on credit and then sell them door to door – they said okay and I sold them on Saturdays all over town for quite some time – I bought a tent, camping gear, clothes, indian lore craft items(leather, beads, feathers etc ) and balsa wood and an xacto set to make fishing lures and the best thing – a pure bred Irish Setter for $75 ! wow I still look back on that with great fondness

  18. Anne says: September 17, 20082:43 pm

    For everyone who’s been looking for info about Spudnut franchises, a little seaching turned up this page:

    http://ruthvenphotos.co…

    Which, among other things, says that Spudnuts is no longer a national company. Spudnuts shops still open apparently have their own recipes, because they’re no longer getting their mix from anyone.

    If you want a mix to try to make some at home http://sbuddies.com/ sells their own version.

  19. Mickey says: November 15, 20087:05 pm

    Oh the memories of hot spud nuts! They were absolutely the most lucious treat. The only spud nut shop in the Miami/Coral Gables area was located on Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, Florida. And how we all flocked there back in the 40s and early 50s. We couldn’t get enough of the warm crisp exterior and light as a feather interior. My favorite was always the glazed. Are there any such product in the South Florida area?

  20. Mike says: November 16, 200810:09 am

    You can do an internet search for various recipes.

  21. Eddie Scott says: December 15, 200811:52 pm

    I do remember the Spudnut shop in my hometown of Montgomery, AL circa 1945-53. I loved those things
    but in reading all above, I didn’t realize how much preparation time it took. But a friend sent
    me these comments and it brings back thoughts of our youth. If I could find a Spudnut shop in Tennessee, where I now live, I would like to refresh my taste. They were better than the typical glazed doughnuts now sold.

  22. Mike says: January 24, 200911:04 am

    I used to sell Spudnuts door-to-door after school and on Saturday in San Antonio Texas in the late 50′s. I was probably in the 5th or 6th grade. Someone would pick us kids up and take us around town and drop us off and pick us up later in the afternoon. We used a wire basket with a shoulder strap to carry the 18 or so 1/2 dozen bags. The 1/2 dozen bags were 35 cents each and we made 5 cents on each bag we sold. The best part was having the option to sell the last bag and keep the whole 35 cents or just keep the bag of Spudnuts for our own enjoyment!

  23. ML Cornett says: March 4, 200910:24 am

    There was a Spudnut shop in Morgantown, WV in the late 50s and 60s. I was a studen at WVU and we loved our Spudnut Shop and spuddies (the cake doughnut) was wonderful as well.

  24. Carol Ludlum says: March 8, 20094:07 pm

    I have been making spudnut for years , I work at a school and I make them for school and for hospitality room at ball games and I make them for our Church after Church social time. And I have been ask many time why I didn’t open a spudnut shop and I would just laugh, but I did not realize that there was a franchise of spudnut. and I would like more information. I have worked as a school cook for 30 years and am retireing but since I do enjoy making spudnut I just intested in what it would cost and what it would take to start a spudnut shop. Do you use potatoe flour or do you use mashed potato in your dough. Thanks Carol Ludlum

  25. Doug Bagley says: March 11, 20098:30 pm

    Relax. I have the original mix sold to the franchises. I bought the whole recipe book from Will Bellar who was the Executive V.P. and General Manager of Spudnut International in Salt Lake City from 1971 to 1974. There were 6 Spudnut recipes in the book. Only 1 was used with the retail stores. I have got that recipe now, and it tastes exactly the same. There are no trans fats in our version, and if you fry the product in vegetable oil, there are no transfats anywhere. We are selling the mix in 6 lb. bags if you want to taste the product, or 50 lb. bags if you want to sell them in a store. We ship out of St. Louis, MO and Salt Lake City. Hey, someone had to bring the product back, and I did. We currently have the name Spudnut under a trademark. We’ll let you use the name if you buy the product. I’d rather not have franchise fees, as this donut belongs to America. Pretty soon you can find us on Spudnutdonut.com. Our website will be fully operational by the end of March, 2009. email me at [email protected] We have a trainer, can sell you equipment for any size operation, and the original mix with all the great flavor that people will come back for. Thanks for reading this.

  26. Steve Meyers says: April 18, 20093:01 pm

    I enjoyed reading these comments and stories of the famous Spudnut Doughnut. I also grew up in Columbia, Mo duing the 1960′s. I remember every Sunday my father would drive to the Mizzou campus stop by the Spudnut, get a dozen of those famous doughnuts and a Saint Louis Post Dispatch newspaper. Wow, what a taste!! Well I had not thought of Spudnut in a long time, until recently. We were on vacation in Panama City, Fl driving down 23rd street and suddenly this Spudnut doughnut shop appeared! I nearly ran off the road! Well, they were closed, so I went back the next morning to get a dozen or so, and they were nearly sold out! I bought a dozen, took them back to my family in hopes to get a new family tradition started. Only one problem, not enough Spudnuts left. Thank’s to that Spudnut In Panama City in refreshing an old memory!

  27. Bev Holt says: June 28, 20095:25 pm

    All the while we were married (49 years) my husband used to talk about the wonderfully delicious
    “spudnut” donuts he has as a boy growing up in Montana; he practically drooled every time he
    mentioned them…we could never find a spudnut donut shop in California, so I am surprised tofind this
    web site. Unfortunately my sweetheart has passed away so it’s too late for him. However, I’d like to
    try the spudnut myself as well as share with our grandchildren…any spudnut shops in Southern California?
    Bev Holt

  28. Firebrand38 says: June 28, 20096:03 pm

    Bev, look here http://spudnutshop.com/

  29. Firebrand38 says: June 28, 20097:39 pm

    And specifically for your question http://maps.google.com/…

  30. George Mathis says: June 29, 20097:12 pm

    My grandmother had a Spudnut shop here in Logan, West Virginia in about 1952-1955. I can remeber the smoke burning my eyes from the cooking grease.

    I still have the urge to get someone to set up another shop here. I do have some friends with a bakery. I haven’t discussed that with them. They make good donuts and other pastreys.

    I have a recipe somewhere. Is there any Spudnut recipes vailable out there?

    Thanks….

    George

  31. Bev Holt says: July 1, 20091:46 pm

    Hi: thanks for sending all the locations of spudnut shops here in Southern California. I was wondering if anyone
    knows of a spudnut shop in Montana where my husband was raised. It would seem like it should have been somewhere
    in the 40′s as Dick and his folks didn’t move to California until 1949. He used to talk lovingly about a spudnut
    donut shop somewhere in Montana..they lived in Miles city, Dick went to college in Bozeman after he got out of
    the Army. Bev Holt

  32. John Authement says: July 31, 20099:54 pm

    About 1955 I started selling Spudnuts door to door in the New Orleans area. I was wondering if Barry Drufner hired any young boys to deliver them during that time.

  33. Barry Cammack says: August 6, 20099:13 pm

    Just today I was having fond memories of my period of being the “spudnut boy” in my neighbor-
    hood of northeast kansas city,misssouri in the 1950′s. trouble was, i usually ate most of my
    profit. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  34. Paul Cornish says: August 11, 200910:04 am

    I was 10 or 11 years old (1958-59) when I first discovered spudnuts. Then they were sold out of a horse drawn wagon on a back road near my house in Mansfield, Ohio. Going price was 25 cents per dozen. My mother was horrified I associated with “gypsies” and was convinced I was going to be taken in the night and turned into a thief, vagabond, or God forbid, a spudnut salesman. Over the years since then, I’ve come across spudnuts here and there across the country, but none compared with the gypsie’s product. Closest I’ve found was a small shop outside Fort Meyers, Florida….close, but not a home run!

  35. Nancy (Crossley) says: September 7, 200910:28 pm

    I remember going out on Halloween “Trick or Treat”, and the Spudnut Shop on W 3rd St in Jamestown, NY would give kids a donut…Dad often brought a boxful home, what a treat.

  36. Diane says: September 8, 200912:50 am

    My husband and I use to buy Spudnuts, but I can’t remember where. We use to live near Kingston, NY from 1968 – 1971, before moving to Las Vegas, NV. From there we in Reno, NV from 1984 – 1991. I just saw a clip of Spudnuts on the Food Network channel. That triggered a spark in my memory bank that my husband loved those donuts. I can not recall where we were when we bought them. Can you tell me if there was a franchised store in any of the places we lived. Thank you. Diane Gormley

  37. spudnutlover says: September 18, 200910:30 am

    >Is there any Spudnut recipes available out there?<

    There’s a link to a recipe on this page – http://spudnutinfo.com – by a chef, Chef Bari.

  38. W. Summerfield says: November 5, 20092:42 pm

    I’m looking for a spudnut cafe near Chatham Ontario Canada. Can you tell me where that would be? Thanks. Wes

  39. Dennis speth says: November 9, 20093:33 pm

    I remember eating spudnuts in bettendorf, ia as a kid. dad would take us kids to the store on state street on saturdays

  40. Tom Sorrells says: December 11, 20092:09 pm

    Hi -Reference to the April 18th post from Steve Meyers in Columbia Mo – my best friend growing up in Prairie Village Kansas was Steve Meyers who moved to Columbia in 1962 – Steve if this is you find me in the Kansas City phone book!

  41. Teresa Thompson says: February 10, 201012:55 am

    I grew up in Borger, Tx. in the 60′s and 70′s. The Spudnut shop is still there on main street and still in business, I believe run by the same family. Spudnuts so good they make your tongue slap your brain out!! Boy I miss living close enough to still buy them. When my dad visits, he always brings dozens of them for the whole family.
    The operation is in plain sight of the counter. You can sit and watch YOUR donuts making their way from station to station and finally into your hands. Still hot and melting in your mouth GOOD! Ok, now I am really craving a spudnut!

  42. SpudnutIinfo says: February 10, 20101:16 am

    Hello Teresa Thompson; can you provide a specific name and address for that Spudnut shop in Borger, Texas? I’m unable to find anything about it on the internet. The only current Spudnut shops in Texas that I have information about are in Amarillo, Dumas, Pampa, and Plainview.

  43. Mary C. says: June 5, 20108:02 am

    I grew up in El Paso in the 50s and 60s. There was a wonderful Spudnut shop there. Those Spudnuts were delicious! I talked to the former shop owner years later to find out if there was a recipe. Of course, he told me there was a mix that they used. Unfortunately no one knows what the recipe of the mix is. He thought the Peltons might have sold the recipe, but who knows. I understand the current Spudnut shops are all different. I looked up some Spudnut recipes on the internet, and they all seem to be missing a special ingredient that the original Spudnuts had.

  44. Firebrand38 says: June 5, 201011:32 am

    The recipe was bought by this guy http://www.sbuddies.com… he sells bags of the mix.

  45. bobby pearce says: August 8, 20107:09 am

    my brother and myself use to sell spudnuts on saturday mornings in san angelo, texas. they were very good and not to expensive so everyone back then could afford them. the people who ran the shop were very good to work for. i dont know if it is still in business or not. well that is about it i wish there were one in the mesquite texas area. oh well.

  46. bobby pearce says: August 8, 20107:11 am

    oh a post comment spudnuts were ummmmmmmmm good with ice cold milk.

  47. Dave O says: November 29, 20103:14 pm

    When I was a kid in the 50′s there was a Spudnut Shop in Halifax, NS Canada. It was a special treat to travel to Halifax once a year with my parents for Christmas shopping and to get a dozen Spudnuts.
    All I remember is you could get plain ones, glazed ones and chocolate coated ones. We always got a mixed box. Years later my mother picked up a Spudnut recipe somewhere that involved mashed potatoes mixed into wheat flour. They always turned out light and fluffy, just like the Spudnut Shop of years ago. Fond memories from a 64 year old kid.

  48. Tom Welte says: December 20, 20106:54 pm

    I grew up in sw Wisconsin and my parents owned a Spudnut shop in Richland Center. I worked at the shop all through highschool, 1979. I wish I I could open a Spudnut shop now. They were the best all my friends still tell me so. If I do open a new store it will be in Branson, Mo.

  49. Brewster K says: January 27, 20112:51 pm

    I grew up in Seattle and in the early 50′s I remember the Spudnut Man coming door-to-door late Saturday afternoon during the winter when it was drizzly and dreary. For me, any day like that is a Spudnut day, and I try to convince my wife to bake a cake or make cookies.

  50. Carol Anderson says: March 1, 20121:09 am

    Can you tell me if there are any Spudnut Donut Shops in Spokane area or in Idaho? I am going on a road trip soon and would like to be able to purchase some on my way home. Thanks so much, also are there any in Kennewick,Pasco area of Washington State?

  51. SpudnutLover says: March 1, 20126:15 am

    There’s a well-known Spudnut shop in Richland, Washington, not exactly near Spokane, and also three shops in Idaho that are supposed to have Spudnuts. See http://spudnutinfo.com for a list of all Spudnut shops and other information on Spudnuts.

  52. redtexan07 says: October 25, 20146:40 pm

    That spudnut shop in Borger, Texas is called Mr. Treat. It’s still there, and I visit every time I’m in town!

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