The Secret Ingredient in Portland’s Voodoo Doughnuts is…
After months of lust, I finally got to sneak my fingers into a coveted pink box. Within lie the sort of wonders preteen boys dream about. Sweet, lickable, a little confusing and not at all what I expected.
Yes, I just visited Portland’s infamous Voodoo Doughnuts.
Like all epic achievements, I had to suffer through smaller quests before reaching my goal. Lo, did the rain pour down upon me and the other tourists during our half hour wait. Verily, did the beggars work the cash-only line, and yea, were there rumblings of a riot when tray upon tray emerged from the tiny shop only to be loaded into a food truck.
Everyone from Anthony Bourdain to Adam Richman has gushed about Voodoo Doughnuts, which makes me wonder if the shop has some kind of deal with the Travel Channel. There’s no question these are good doughnuts, but are they great? No. However, they are clever.
There’s nothing wrong with clever. Heck, I make my living coming up with clever ways to make food look like it belongs in a Sci Fi flick. The signature Voodoo Doll Doughnut is a basic raised yeast bar with nubby little arms and a face. That would be cute, but they make it geeky by adding raspberry filling and a stake through the heart. Vampire? Zombie? Regular human who happens to die from cardiac arrest? Use your imagination. Both in looks and taste, this was my favorite offering.
Things started to go downhill from there. I also tried the Mexican Hot Chocolate Doughnut, which was supposed to be chocolate cake topped with cinnamon, sugar, and cayenne pepper. I love a little heat in my chocolate – especially on a day cold enough the rain was laced with hail – but mine turned out to be a pretty plain chocolate doughnut with red sprinkles instead of pepper. Disappointing, to say the least.
The Lemon Chiffon Crueller really brought home the gimmicky nature of the donuts. Instead of a nice lemon flavor, it tasted like they poured some Country Time Lemonade into vanilla frosting mix. I don’t expect they’d mind that comparison, since they proudly serve a Mango Tango doughnut topped with powdered Tang and a Grape Ape with purple sprinkles and a grape dust made from kid’s drink mix.
In fact, They are totally unapologetic about the fact that this is kid food. You can get a plain yeast doughnut topped with a fist full of Fruit Loops or Captain Crunch. Chocoholics can get their chocolate doughnut stuffed with Coco Puffs or topped with crushed Oreos. No ten year old boy alive could resist Voodoo’s Offerings.
To me, Voodoo Doughnuts 24 hour menu of sugary cereals and artificially flavored powders seems perfect for both small children and drunk adults. If you go in expecting subtlety, you clearly didn’t read the part of the menu where it says they’ll custom make your cock and balls doughnuts.
If you don’t want to wait in a tourist filled line for half an hour, just get ahold of one of the boxes. You can cheaply recreate the effect with a grocery store box of Entemann’s, a tub of whipped vanilla frosting, and fist full of your favorite cereal. There only secret ingredient is child-like whimsey.