Lifestyle

Spudnuts, the Potato Doughnuts: Are They Gone From Texas Forever?

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The last remaining vestiges of what once was a flourishing business were apparently in Amarillo, Texas, but now even its web link reads, “Permanently closed.” The final Texas stronghold of Spudnuts is only an online memory. The Spudnuts heyday appeared to be throughout the 1950s and ’60s. Residents of Texas recall the product fondly, noting that they were wonderful—similiar to yeast donuts but even better. Many Texans even remember them being sold door to door! Can you imagine that happening now? Instead of a guy or girl showing up to survey you about your water heater costs, they instead offer you a sack of Spudnuts! What were these miracle mouthfuls of glorious carbs? Named for its potato-based mix of ingredients, Spudnuts were designed to be the perfect doughnut, in the eyes of Bob and Al Pelton, their creators.

Spudnuts, the Potato Doughnuts: Are They Gone From Texas Forever?

Photo: Instagram/freshfromthefarmbc

In Lubbock, Spudnuts were sometimes sold directly to homes in local neighborhoods. During the 1960s, students at Lubbock High School were employed as Spudnuts salespeople. Customers would often buy all the Spudnuts the kids brought to their door. So what happened to what seems to have been a wildly popular franchise with a product that was making its rounds in Texas and far beyond?

In 1939, the Pelton brothers developed the Spudnut recipe and grew it into a wildly popular brand. Within months, they had started to franchise the business. Salt Lake City, Utah, was its home base, complete with a mix plant and warehouse. Their distribution center was established Cleveland, Ohio, to ensure effective product handling for the eastern U.S. By the 1950s, one could purchase a Spudnuts franchise for a mere $2,000 (which wouldn’t have been peanuts back then, but you get the picture).

Spudnuts, the Potato Doughnuts: Are They Gone From Texas Forever?

Photo: Instagram/paigeobyrne

In 1952, there were 350 Spudnuts franchises through the U.S. and Canada. By 1968, the Pelton brothers sold their company and retired. At the time, their annual sales were $2 million. Spudnuts franchises also had combined annual sales of $25 million, and it was said to be the largest American doughnut franchise. However, 1979 truly signaled the end of what was known as a powerful (and tasty) empire. Pace Industries, the original purchaser from the Peltons, sold the company rights to Dakota Bake-N-Serv in 1973. As a result of some poor business decisions, the entire chain was defunct as of 1979. The franchisees were left to their own devices, with no parent company to support their efforts. At present, research indicates there are 35 remaining Spudnuts locations left open in nine states. Texas doesn’t appear to be one of them.

Spudnuts, the Potato Doughnuts: Are They Gone From Texas Forever?
Photo: Instagram/ebarkus

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