Last weekend, Mrs. Grub Guy and I made a quick weekend trek to the northwest suburbs of Philadelphia to retrieve our eight-year-old, who spent a couple of weeks there visiting with his grandparents. The plan during our brief trip was, aside from spending a couple days with family, that we would also try to take advantage of the time by grabbing a bite at some of our favorite spots in town (we used to live in that area before moving to Columbus, so we’re pretty familiar with many of the local restaurants.) We made sure to hit up the stellar Shady Maple Smorgasbord near Lancaster, PA, for their breakfast buffet on Saturday morning (which you can read all about here), and before we started the eight hour drive home on Sunday morning, I knew I definitely wanted to drop by Suzy-Jo Donuts in nearby Bridgeport.
Suzy-Jo Donuts is a small, mom & pop donut shop with a rich history of serving up fresh, delicious donuts since 1955. They have a total of three shops in the general area, all within approximately 20 minutes of each other, with Bridgeport being their original location.
The shop itself is a tiny storefront located on one of the main streets through town, and is easily accessible by both auto and foot traffic. Stepping through the doors of the small, unassuming shop is like taking a step back in time. Suzy-Jo’s is a no frills – walk up to the counter, get your donuts, and walk out – type of place. There are no tables or stools for seating (not that there’s room for such nonsense anyway), and that’s how it’s always been. It’s straightforward and it’s simple. While I was at the shop, I took just a minute or two to observe a few people come and go: A father and his young son coming in to get their Sunday morning donuts together, a special trip they had obviously made many times before…an older man stopping in for a newspaper, a donut and his usual coffee, a combo which the young man behind the counter had memorized…and an elderly gentleman in his Sunday best, grabbing a dozen glazed to-go on his way to church. There was just something incredible about it. The beauty of a beloved local business is having the opportunity to build your own traditions with it and around it, and Suzy-Jo Donuts is obviously that business for many of the local people.
But tradition isn’t the only thing that’s great about Suzy-Jo. There are, of course, the amazing donuts. Overflowing with a variety of over 40 different flavors and styles, their cases are famous for being stocked with some of the freshest, tastiest treats in town. They offer many unique flavors that you really don’t find very often, and some I had never seen before – flavors like coconut custard, peach-filled, strawberries and cream, “hard chocolate” (kind of like the chocolate shell stuff you put over ice cream, only on top of a donut!), peanut butter fluff, and cherry cheesecake-filled.
More choices than you can wrap your brain around….
Two of their monstrous specialties are the cinnamon rolls and the scrumptious-looking apple fritters. I am a huge fan of the fritter, and these were simply enormous (the picture doesn’t do them justice). I’m still kicking myself for filling up my box too quickly and not leaving room for one of these dudes.
Alas, it was decision time. I tried to keep in mind that I was buying to share with several other people, so I tried to get a variety and not just all of my favorites. I ordered a box of twelve ($9.25/doz), and had lots of fun choosing them.
I knew I wanted to try Suzy-Jo’s version of the maple bacon donut, and had to get a couple of their famous “Cream Stix”, which are essentially powdered long johns filled with white cream. The maple bacon donut was sweet, airy and delicious. The icing was not too sugary, but was mild and smooth. The bacon on top was cooked just enough to be done, but not too crispy, which I liked. They definitely rank high on my list of great maple-bacon donuts…if not possibly the best I’ve had.
The Cream Stix were very nicely done, and were much better than many cream-filled long johns I’ve eaten. I’ve never been a big fan of powdered sugar though, simply because I can’t seem to not get it all over myself.
Rounding out the rest of the box, I chose several “filled” yeast donuts like the coconut custard, a basic white cream-filled, a strawberries & cream, and a cherry cheesecake-filled donut. I also went with some nice cake donuts such as the chocolate-iced Devil’s food, a white-iced coconut, and a plain donut for my FIL. And of course, for the kiddies – sprinkles!!
There is very good reason why Suzy Jo Donuts is a beloved gem in an East coast world that’s been overrun with chain shops like Dunkin’ Donuts (I swear, they’re everywhere out there!!). These donuts have character and are made with love and pride – you can see it and you can most certainly taste it. The difference in the two is not only evident in the quality of the end products themselves, but also in the fact that the people who’ve loved these local shops for decades still make it a point to continue their routine traditions of support, and are passing it down to the next generation.
That’s what this blog is all about, and that’s what I’m all about.
Well done, Suzy-Jo.
Suzy-Jo Donuts is located at 49 E. Fourth St, Bridgeport, PA 19405 (Map), with two additional locations around town. They’re open from 6:00 am – 3:00 pm, 7 days a week. For more info, check out their Facebook page here.