SHELTON /STRATFORD, Conn. — As I approach the entrance of Donut Crazy, I'm struck by the scent of hot, sugary baked treats before my hand even reaches the door.
Once inside, I gaze across a full-wall selection of artisanal doughnuts topped with everything from bacon to dollops of espresso buttercream. I can’t imagine choosing one favorite, or even choosing between the Shelton and Stratford locations.
After a a few minutes frozen in option overload, clerk Nicole Smith offers me some understanding from the other side of the counter.
“My first time was so overwhelming I stood in line for 20 minutes before making a decision,” she says, supporting my eventual selections of a maple bacon and apple pie-filled seasonal special.
Smith, 29, was introduced to Donut Crazy as a customer before joining the staff. A past employee of Dunkin’ Donuts, Smith says she wasn’t the only one to migrate.
“A lot of my old regulars from Dunkin’ followed me here,” she says, explaining how people like seeing a familiar face in the morning.
As Smith details the more whimsical flavors, I realize how this little shop has so quickly become a community staple after less than a year of operation.
The Black Hawk doughnut – a chocolate glazed cake topped with Oreos and chocolate drizzle -- is named for the legacy helicopters built down the road; Anna and Raven’s Morning Show is named for a favorite radio program on Star 99.9 FM.
While winning the love of locals, Donut Crazy sparked a buzz that’s spread throughout the state. It’s a warm, sunny day in early October and Edward Ford of Hartford is driving through town on business travels.
“I travel a lot and the two things I look for in every city I go to are doughnuts and ice cream,” says Ford, between bites of red velvet and cinnamon toast flavors. Ford, 34, recalls memories of his mother bringing him for donuts as a kid.
“They’re comfort food,” he says, treating himself to a familiar snack in an unfamiliar place. Today marks his first-ever visit, but within a matter of bites he decides the birthday cake flavor is his favorite.
“On a day like this, I won’t be eating lunch.”
Donut Crazy has locations at 785 River Road in Shelton – 203-538-5560 — open daily from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and at 3690 Main St. in Stratford — 203-386-1999 — open daily 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visit DonutCrazyCT.com for more information.
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