Tale of Two Donuts or should I say Doughnuts!

Being a native Hamiltonian, I consider myself to be somewhat of a donut, or should I say "doughnut" aficionado as Hamilton is home to Canada's iconic Tim Horton's coffee and donuts (3,453 franchises in Canada and 4,285 world-wide).  

Timmy's is to Hamilton what Starbucks is to Seattle. Yes there is one on almost every corner.  Did you know that Canada has more doughnut shops per capita than any other country?

However, like everything in this world, the donut, or should I say "doughnut" has gone upscale.  No longer is a plain glazed or maybe a Boston Cream enough for the foodies.  No! Today the donut, or should I say "doughnut" has to have some exotic combination of ingredients like bacon and peanut butter. Who thinks up these things?

Sex Shop

Probably one of the first upscale wacky donut, or should is say "doughnut" boutiques was in Portland. It has been ten years now since Voodoo Doughnut opened up in the Old Town district next to a sex shop.  Today, it has become a major tourist attraction and has the line-ups to show for it.  

People flock to get one of their signature Voodoo Doll donuts (or should I say "doughnut") which is a raspberry jelly filled primitive doll-shaped donut with chocolate frosting (see pics below).  

As a donut, or should I say "doughnut" loving, dessert diva/devil Brenda and I had Voodoo at the top of our "must see/must do" list. However, like all good flaneuring plans we found something even more interesting.   

While exploring Alberta Street, we came up a colourful clown-like building (see pics below) with two different entrances that looked interesting.  The sign said Tonnali's Donuts and Cream and it was time for a snack so we had to check it out.  

We were transported back to the '50s with a huge counter full of old fashion donuts like Maple Bar, Chocolate Twist, Old Fashion Glazed, Maple Buttermilk and Old Fashioned Cinnamon Crumb - none of the "what will they think of next" combo names!

Brenda had a simple glazed donut and I opted for the blueberry fritter - both were just the way we like them - fresh melt-in-your-mouth, with a sweetness that isn't over the top.  It was one of the best finds of our trip to Portland and worth the trip to Alberta Avenue, along with its indie art galleries and bohemian shops. 

We got to Voodoo Doughtnut in Old Town (there are two other locations) a few days later, but the line-up was too long for us to wait.  Next time we will get there earlier!    

Donut vs Doughnut?

Bet by now you are wonder, "How do you spell donut, or should I say doughnut?"  While a quick internet search, tells me that "doughnut" is the original spelling and dates back to 1800s.  This spelling makes sense as it is "deep fried dough."

The term "donut" came into use when the manufacturing of doughnuts became more commercial and probably originated in New York in the early 20th century - but the history is sketchy.  

If you want more detail information on donuts I'd suggest hub pages.   For example, who knew that there is a National Donut Day (first friday of June, rats just missed it) and that it was started in 1917 by Salvation Army giving away free donuts to veterans of WW1. Bet you didn't know that there are ten billion doughnuts made in the US every year!  

As an everyday tourist I may not be able to get to Voodoo or Tonnalli's again soon, but fortunately we have Modern Jelly Donuts here in Calgary that I can visit (not everyday) for that touristy doughnut/donut experience. 


This unassuming sign and building is home to one of Portland's biggest tourist attractions Voodoo Doughnut.  They say the magic is in the hole but from what we saw it wasn't the hole people were buying. 


We saw a lot of people buying the Voodoo dolls with their pretzel pins.  There are fun and each one is unique.  

Yes this is a popular place with long line ups most of the time.  We did not wait in line for a doughnut!  Things to see, places to go!

Saw this and thought this is our kind of place.  I am sucker for bright colours, especially yellow.  I also love all things bohemian and local.  This looked like something from the '50s - a good decade! 

Inside Tonalli's is exactly what you would expect a counter full of doughnut s- even in the middle of the afternoon.  What we loved is that there was none of the designer doughnuts here. 

Miss B went for the glassed cake doughnut in the traditional shape while I had the blueberry fritter (being a bit of fritter expert).  Note the classy glass of water; this is authenticity at its finest!  We both loved our selection. 

There wasn't much of a line up on the Saturday afternoon we were at Tonallis. Too bad! The Voodoo patrons could probably paid for the taxi to get to Tonallis with the money they would save and it would have taken less time than waiting in line.  

There are two entrances to Tonallis and just to cover their bases they have the "donut" spelling on one and "doughnut" on the other.