Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Britt's Donuts, Carolina Beach-- Part 5

During the height of the summer season, you can often find a long line of folks waiting for their sugar blast at 8:30 a.m. when the garage doors open.  (Remember, I told you, the doughnuts are not that good the next day unless you know about the microwave).  And, throughout the day, there is a steady stream of customers.  There were 10-12 in there when we went in July 8th at 12;30 p.m..

On the busiest days, Britt's will have three of four guys back in the kitchen cooking batch after batch.  Then there will be at least two girls to work the counter.  Business is so brisk on the 4th of July weekend, that Maxine Nivens cooks meals at home so the employees can eat on site.

Summer season, Memorial Day to Labor Day, is when Britt's does the most business.  These are seven days a week during this time.  The shop is also open weekends-only from the end of March to Memorial Day and after Labor Day until the beginning of October.

I know for a fact that I have occasionally been greatly disappointed to go there and find the place closed.

--Man, I'm Getting a Sugar Rush Just Sittin' Here and Typin' About It.  --RoadDog

Britt's Donuts, Carolina Beach-- Part 4: Britt's Recipe

The Nivenses don't know where the recipe originated, just that H.L. Britt bought it from someone in the 1930s.  They bought the recipe from Mr. Britt and they keep it a close secret.  Just the two of them know it, not even their daughters.  They note that the recipe is tucked away in a safe.

Whatever it is, there are no preservatives in those doughnuts.  I remember one summer when I came up with the brilliant idea of ordering a dozen the night before, intending to have them for breakfast.  They were not good at all.  You have to eat them as soon as possible to get all the goodness.

We have found that a few drops of water and a 7-8 second stint in a microwave does bring back some of the sugary sweetness the next morning.  But, don't wait two days to eat 'em.

This past July when we went, the three of us ordered a dozen of them and ate six.  We bought the last six back to the Topsail Beach place and when cousin Vicki found out we'd gone to Britt's earlier in the day, her first words were, "Did you bring any back?"  That took care of two of them.

So, You CAN Have Your Britt's and Eat 'Em the Next Day.  --Roaddog

Monday, September 1, 2014

Britt's Donuts, Carolina Beach, N.C.-- Part 3: A History

H.L. Britt opened the shop in 1939 just across the boardwalk from its present-day (since 1969) location.  Current owner Bobby Nivens worked for Mr. Britt (from Goldsboro, N.C.) during the summers of '54-'56.  In 1974, Bobby and his wife Maxine purchased the place.

At the time, he thought maybe there'd be a Britt's in every town in the country.  But working seven days a week from Memorial to Labor Day soon changed his mind.

They have 12 employees, many of whom have been with them many years.  All of them, when we were there in July were, at one time or another, deep into cell-phone gazing.

Kevin Lawrie has been with them for 23 years.    The  Nivens'  daughters are also working at the place.

And, they run the place pretty much like Britt did and continue to use almost all of the original equipment.  Says Bobby, "I try not to change anything that I don't have to."  That especially applies to H.L. Britt's doughnut recipe.  Britt bought it from somebody back in the 1930s and it is, of course, a closely guarded secret.  Only Maxine and Booby know it.

 Three Donuts for Me.  --RoadDog

Britt's Donut Shop, Carolina Beach, N.C.-- Part 2

And, if you're looking for dining in fine surroundings, it's not going to happen here.  The place is essentially just two garage doors that are open when the shop is open.  If they're down, it's closed.  Then there is that blue and white awning over them (the sight of which means, "You're here."

No table dining, just two long counters running the length of the building.  The main counter has large windows that give you a look at the kitchen where the delights are being made.

There are no conveyor belts, just one somewhat small fryer capable of making 36 doughnuts at a time.

And, of course, with the open garage doors like they have, no air conditioning.  There might be a fan or two, I don't remember.  And, it can get warm  inside between the people, outside air and frying doughnuts.

They use long sticks to grab the doughnuts through the hole and lift them out of the fryers.

And, Oh So Good.  --RoadDog

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Britt's Donut Shop, Carolina Beach, N.C.-- Part 1

From the July 2009 Our State Magazine "Sugar Rush" by Kathy Grant Westbrook.

Britt's Donuts is a must-try food spot in the Old North State

"Variety may be the spice of life, but at Britt's Donut Shop in Carolina Beach, they don't like things spicy; they like them sweet.  So forget about the variety.  Britt's sells glazed doughnuts.  And drinks, of course--milk, coffee and soft drinks (in N.C., they call pop soft drinks).  That's the menu-- period.  No chocolate-iced doughnuts.  Or lemon-filled.  Or cream-filled.  Just glazed."

Like they say, you can have anything you want to eat as long as its glazed.  And, who would want to order anything else.  It's like going to Springfield's Cozy Dog and ordering a hot dog or hamburger.

Owner Bobby Nivens says they have no problem with the lack of variety.  People know what to expect when they come into the non-air conditioned shop with its garage doors open.

Britt's doughnuts are always fresh and warm "and no matter how gingerly you hold it, it is impossible not to compress it between your fingers and thumb."  Even worse, a few flecks of that glaze is gonna fall onto the counter or your lap.

And, due to their lightness, like Jay's Potato Chips around Illinois say:  "You can't eat just one."

And, it is right on Carolina Beach's famous boardwalk.  But not the boardwalk along the ocean, but one "street" in, across from what use to be the bumper cars.


Friday, August 29, 2014

Got My Sugar Rush at Britt's Donut Shop at Carolina Beach, N.C.

On July 28th, Mom, Bob and I took a trip to Carolina Beach and points south, but the big reason for going to Carolina Beach was to stop at Britt's Donuts for some of those melt-in-your-mouth donuts.

We were hoping they would be open since this is the summer high tourist season, and they were.  The place was crowded as usual with a big turnover.  And, they were celebrating their 75th year in business.  I doubt that anything in the place has changed in that time either, other than, of course, the price of those sugar delights.

They now cost 95 cents.  A half dozen goes for $5.95 and best deal is a dozen for $7.99.  I happily forked over the money for the dozen, figuring two apiece would leave us with six for tomorrow.  Drinks of fountain Coke were $1.25 in a very, very small Styrofoam cup.  Kind of a rip-off, but then, there were those donuts.

You get them within minutes of making them in the fryer, sometimes right out of it.  Be careful of burned tongues and lips.

Tastes today, just like it did when I first went back in the 50s.

What You Can call a Well-Balanced Lunch.  --RoadDog

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Take US-45 between Milwaukee and the Illinois Line: A Drive in the Country

Returning from the Indy Fest in Milwaukee, well, West Allis, a suburb of Brew Town, we decided against taking I-94.  It wasn't much fun driving north on it and, with the traffic jams we saw going south on it, I-94 just wasn't an option.  Plus, all that traffic from Flatlanders (Illinois residents) returning home from Chessehead Land (Wisconsin) on Sundays.

Let's find an alternative and US-45 it was.  US-45 goes from Mobile, Alabama all the way to Michigan's Upper Peninsula and we have drive all of it from Mobile to Champaign, Illinois, and from the Chicago suburbs to Appleton, Wisconsin.

We picked up US-45 by Hale's Corner.  Once past Muskego, it was essentially that beautiful southern Wisconsin hilly and farm driving.  And, not very much traffic.  The biggest town was Union Grove, a very pretty one.

Like driving Route 66 through Missouri, only closer to home.


Milwaukee Indy Fest-- Part 6: Jokers at the Gates

We stayed around and talked with Bob, Paul and Terri after the race, since we were finally able to hear one another.  Always great to talk with old comrades on the front lines in teaching.  I taught with all of these people for at least 20 years each.  Like in the rest of the business world today, people don't stay at one teaching job for their whole careers anymore.  Either by choice or districts looking for newer, less expensive teachers.

Paul got to the race just a short time before us and had to park as far away as you can, so we all walked and walked and walked to the other side of the fairgrounds.  Surprisingly, there were still lines of cars waiting to get out, even though there couldn't have been more than 500 people around for the winners circle ceremony.

There was a long line of cars waiting to get out to the east and we saw a short line waiting to leave to the west so drove over to it, but just as we got to it, the workers closed the gate with big smiles on their faces and very rudely told us we couldn't get out that way.  And, with big smiles on their faces.  Obviously, no tips for these jokers.  And using the word workers is using the term very loosely.

We decided to not take I-94 back as on two occasions we saw huge backups in the southbound lanes, so drove around Milwaukee as we were finally able to get away from the fest traffic several miles to the east.  We finally got out west of the bypass and on 100th Street, with its mile after mile of shopping and traffic.  Took it out to US-45.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Racing at the Wisconsin State Fairgrounds

There was no racing at the fairground track between 1942 and 1945 because of World War II.  The last winner before the war, in 1941, was Rex Mays who also was the next one to win in 1946.

It became known as the Rex May Classic between 1956 and 1979.  he didn't race, but he had a team which won many times.

Indy cars first raced at the track in 1980.  It sounds as if there almost wasn't a race this year, but someone must have stepped up and caused it to happen.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

About This Past Sunday


Thanks to Saturday's Northwest Herald's McHenry County (Ill.) Community Calendar page, I became aware of two activities that we went to: The Pancake Breakfast fundraiser at the McHenry Moose Lodge on Il-31, a benefit to support the Alzheimer's Association.  We did that at 11:30 and got in on some raffles.

Next stop was the second annual Patriots in the Park at McHenry's Veterans Memorial Park downtown.  This was hosted by Joe's Wish, a McHenry-based organization to raise money to meet the needs of local military personnel and their families.

There were lots of vendors selling their wares and we bought an NIU Huskies dish and a 50-caliber bullet fired in Iraq that had been turned into a bottle opener.  Enjoyed talking with friends from the PLAV (Polish Legion of American veterans) who are trying to raise money to rebuild their building which was badly damaged in a Mother's Day fire.

Talked with Jerry (the former mayor of Tom's Cafe) and Jim.  Enjoyed listening to Frank Band and the Secret Stash band play.

Next stop was Captain's Quarters on Fox Lake for our favorite local band, Soda, and then we went to Never Sink Inn and Antonio's in Spring Grove.

A Fine Day Was Had By All.  --RoadDog

Milwaukee Indy Fest 2014-- Part 5

Winner of the race was Will Power who had finished #8 at the Indy 500 in May.  he led for 229 of the 250 laps, including the last 59, although much of it I was unaware of because of the usual race confusion (for me).  He only gave up the lead during pit stops.

He finished the race in 1 hour, 44 minutes and 49 seconds with an average speed of 145.243, the fastest-ever race time on this track.  At the end, he was challenged by Tony Kanaan and Juan Pablo Montoya.

After the race, and with the stands essentially empty, Will Power of Australia, who leads the Indy Car overall race, received customary champagne and Wisconsin State Fair Cream Puffs, the latter mostly in the face.

Tradition, You Know.  --RoadDog

Milwaukee Indy Fest 2014-- Part 4

We tried as we could with the ear plugs, but I was somewhat unsuccessful as the buzzing bees (what the Indy cars sound like) were still too loud.  It was joy when the race finally ended.  Pull those ineffective plugs out and talk with those friends.

Try as I do, I just don't think I'm ever going to be much of an Indy car fan, or any sort of auto racing for that matter.  I have too hard of a time knowing who is in first, second, etc.  Perhaps if they come up with lights atop the cars showing first, second, etc..

Also, perhaps having everyone pull into the pits at the same time and leave in order.  Possibly, once a car gets lapped, it's out of the race.

Anything, Something.  --RoadDog

Monday, August 25, 2014

Five Things We Love About State Fairs-- Part 5: The Giant Cabbage

GIANT CABBAGE CONTEST:  Alaska State Fair in Palmer, August 21-September 1.

Blame it on summertime's 24 hours of daylight.  Alaska, the nation's largest state, boasts fertile ground and grows some seriously oversized produce. The Giant Cabbage Contest was introduced at the fair in 1941.

The manager of the Alaska Railroad sponsored the first contest and awarded Max Sherrod a $25 prize for his 23-pounder.  Scott Robb won it in 2012 and got $2,000 prize for his Guinness World record whopping nearly 138-pounder.

They have a picture and, man, that is one really, really big cabbage.

Corned beef and Cabbage Anybody.  --RoadDog

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Five Things We Love About State Fairs-- Part 4: Pronto Pups

PRINTO PUPS--  Minnesota State Fair in St. Paul, August 21-Sept 1.

Pronto Pups are plump hot dogs dressed in crispy cornmeal-fried batter and have been been eaten since 1947.  They were the first hot food eaten from a stick says franchise-owner Gregg Karnis, 60, of Becker, Minnesota.  His late father, Jack, first introduced the tasty treat.

Each year, they go through nearly 110 tons of batter and 22 tons of hot dogs while making tens of thousands of Pronto Pups.

I can't help but think this sounds a whole lot like Springfield's Cozy Dogs.  Perhaps there is some coincidence here.  I'll have to check into it.

Cozy Dog/Pronto Pup?  --RoadDog

Five Things We Love About State Fairs-- Part 3: Taking the "I Do" Plunge on a Coaster

CLASSIC COASTER--  Washington State Fair in Puyallup, Sept. 5-21.

Since 1935, the Classic Coaster-- the only remaining wooden fairground coaster in the U.S.-- has been thrilling fairgoers with its steel-railed dips and turns.  Rising 55 feet above ground in the midway, it was originally built of Douglas fir beams carried to the grounds by horse-drawn wagons and bolted into place with a Model A Ford (not exactly sure what this means).

Of interest: Dozens of couples entering a local radio station's annual wedding contest have said "I do" while taking the plunge.

Sounds like a roller coaster I could actually go on.