During my annual trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I discovered my new favorite eatery: Duck Donuts. Who knew the company with the quirky name has a Central Pennsylvania connection?
The idea for Duck Donuts began on the shores of the Outer Banks. Russ DiGilio and his family from Cumberland County regularly vacationed in Duck. During a day on the beach, they began reminiscing about a stand at the Jersey Shore that served freshly
At that time, there was nowhere to get fresh donuts on the Outer Banks, so the DiGilio clan came up with an idea to change that. They did their research, experimented with recipes and opened the first Duck Donuts shop in Duck, North Carolina, in 2007. (The company is headquartered in Mechanicsburg.) The cult-like mania for the cake-style custom donuts led to other shops in Corolla, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills and Avon. Demand led to franchising; the first shop outside of North Carolina opened in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 2013. From there, it took on a life of its own; Duck Donuts is currently working toward more than 225 stores across 26 states. It’s regarded as the fastest-growing donut shop in the U.S.
As I discovered, there’s a reason for the public’s “warm” reception, and that would be the unique experience of ordering a custom donut. Unlike the traditional approach of rows of donuts waiting to be selected, you begin with a plain donut and build it your way. The possibilities are endless! You can keep it plain or choose from the selection of seasonal and traditional flavors. Then, you can mix-and-match your own unique combination of icings, drizzles and toppings. Maple icing with bacon is a personal favorite in our family.
Once you’ve made your selection, you get to watch your donuts being made. The robotic donut fryer seems to always be hard at work, dropping just enough dough into the hot oil waiting below. The bottom half of the donut cooks as it gracefully approaches the flip that ensures both sides are cooked to perfection.
The still-warm donuts are then boxed and prepared with your requested combinations of toppings. If you’ve never experienced a donut fresh out of the fryer, prepare yourself for a genuine treat. I’m already imagining one coupled with a warm cup of coffee on a cool autumn morning. Oh, and some shops have added a new thrill to the menu – donut sundaes.
In addition to creating a tasty product, Duck Donuts is also “warm-hearted.” The company supports Gabe’s Chemo Duck Program, a nonprofit organization that helps children and families dealing with childhood cancer prepare for hospital stays and surgeries. Over the past two years, Duck Donuts has contributed $140,000 to the cause. In addition, Quack Gives Back supports nonprofit and charitable organizations in communities where shops are located.
Fortunately, I won’t have to wait another year for my Duck Donuts fix. It came to my attention that there is a Duck Donuts in Lancaster (2097 Fruitville Pike), which is open 7 days a week. They also offer delivery through GrubHub, as well as catering services for businesses and other large groups.
For more information, visit duckdonuts.com. To find out more about the Outer Banks as a vacation destination, check out my feature article “An OBX State of Mind” at lancastercountymag.com/an-obx-state-of-mind/.