By Dennis Seid
TUPELO – There are doughnuts and there are Shipley Do-nuts.
Since 1936, the Texas-based company has been selling its glazed, filled, covered and sprinkled creations to its customers.
The company was founded by Lawrence Shipley Sr., who came up with the recipe. Originally sold at wholesale at a nickel a dozen, the doughnuts were made available at retail stores in the 1940s.
But those who aren’t from or in the Deep South might not be familiar with Shipley’s. The company has grown to more than 250 stores, all in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama.
Those who like a Shipley’s doughnut swear by them.
It was Shipley who said, “When they bite into that hot do-nut, it will bring them back every time.”
Some say it is Shipley’s secret mix of whole wheat and potato flour that makes what the company calls “the nectar of the sumptuous hot glazed do-nuts.”
In Tupelo, Scarlett and David Wilson have two Shipley’s locations they’ve owned for 23 years, and the stores, on average, make 2,000 to 4,000 doughnuts a day.
And yes, Shipley’s spells its pastry “do-nut,” although “doughnut” is the correct spelling.
Just ask Scarlett Wilson.
“I remember I lost a spelling contest because my word was ‘doughnut,’ and everybody though I had it because I grew up with Shipley’s,” she said. “So I got up there and spelled it ‘d-o-n-u-t’ with the dash – and it was wrong. I spelled it the way Shipley’s has always done it.”
Years later, most people who buy the doughnuts or do-nuts or donuts don’t care how they’re spelled.
But making them does take time.
“We usually get here around 3 a.m. to get everything ready,” Wilson said.
As expected, the early morning hours bring a rush, and another small rush comes in around lunch. Business tends to fall off in the afternoons.
“But you never know when somebody gets a craving,” Wilson said.
By far, glazed doughnuts are the most popular.
But chocolate covered are favorites as well, followed by blueberry cake doughnuts. Shipley’s has more than 60 varieties of doughnuts, including filled, icd and sprinkled. Also on the menu are popular items like bear claws, fritters, cinnamon rolls and kolaches.
Daily Journal Business Editor Dennis Seid spent some time recently at Wilson’s Shipley’s location on Cliff Gookin Boulevard to get a peek into how the simple but glorious glazed doughnuts are made.
• First, 50-pound bags of doughnut mix are used to get things started. One bag goes into a large industrial mixer with water and yeast. And don’t bother to ask Wilson or any other Shipley’s franchise owner what’s in the mixture. It all comes from the company’s corporate headquarters in Texas.
• The dough is the rolled out to the right thickness then rolled through a metal cutter that forms hexagonal doughnuts. That’s right – the doughnut comes out six-sided. Doughnut holes do in fact come out of the middle of the doughnut and are saved for later use.
• After a little time proofing, the cut doughnuts are fried in batches of 48. They’re fried about a minute on each side, as an employees “flips” each doughnut in the hot oil to make sure they’re fried evenly.
Wilson said the oil is kept at a certain temperature to ensure the doughnuts don’t get greasy.
• After the doughnuts are fried, they’re quickly tossed – all 48 – into a white, sugary, glaze. They’re flipped to ensure proper coating, then lifted out of the bath.
The glaze is made of 50 pounds of sugar, a gallon of water, some vanilla and a special glaze conditioner.
• The doughnuts then go on a cooling rack to be sold.
Some doughnuts don’t get glazed, but are sent to another area of the kitchen where they’re either covered with chocolate, sprinkles or some other flavor. And the filled doughnuts are doughnuts that don’t have the holes cut out of them.
And there you have it – how Shipley Do-nuts are made. Time to make a doughnut run.