Schneider’s Bakery: Early Morning Donut Run
Posted by cmh gourmand on January 11, 2011
Food nourishes the body. When it is really good it nourishes the soul as well. It also creates memories that connects us to people and places that endure longer than the meal itself. Good food can become great if it is paired with a palatable memory. Therefore, a mere donut can be a life defining thing when combined with the bonding that happens best in college. Early in the morning while there may be better things to do such as sleep or study, eating a donut or a box of them with friends is an event that memories and maybe legends are made of.
Schneider’s Bakery is a legendary landmark in downtown Westerville and a late night destination for Otterbein College (now University) students since 1957. Owner Jeff Hamler has been around awhile as well. He bought the bakery in 1987 after starting work there as a teenager in 1974. Several friends mentioned Schneider’s with a sense of reverence and nostalgia and often used the phrase “nothing beats one of their fresh donuts, hot out of the oven at one in the morning.” The late night aspect had me intrigued indeed. It seems that Schneider’s opens at 1:30 am Tuesday to Thursday and 1:00 am on Friday and Saturday. That seemed interesting – but not critical until this happened (see below).
I arrived about noon on a weekday. No donuts. Well, there was one. The nice lady at the counter let me have it for free since she felt sorry for me….and the lonely donut. She told me that they often run out of donuts early in the morning and such was the case today. This was not such a bad thing, since I had time to look at the rest of Schneider’s offerings. Schneider’s is a bakery that offers donuts instead of a donutery that is an exclusively donut maker. These are some of the items Schneider’s can supply customers: cinnamon rolls, muffins, bread (buns, loaves, rolls: butterflake, cloverleaf and Parkerhouse, white, whole wheat, rye, French, Vienna) cookies, brownies, Danish, sweet rolls, croissants, cakes (in any variety serving up to eight people), cupcakes and a few more things. One of those things comes in the form of Coffee cakes (I counted multiple types) with the best looking of the bunch being the sour cream version. I grabbed a couple pecan sandies that were the diameter of a volleyball and left with my culinary tail between my legs vowing to come back at 1 am for donuts.
And that I did. I arrived at 12:50 am on a Saturday morning. The facade was dark as the cold night I was freezing in. I saw no signs of life. I twittered away on my iPhone thinking that perhaps I was a dumbass. I looked up a few minutes later to see twenty-five or so Otterbein students queued up for their sugar fix. Yet still no sign of life or light or donuts inside. At 1:01 am, the lights flashed on, the doors opened and the first wave of sorority girls surged to the counter. I found myself in the second wave, standing in front of a drunk or cognitively impaired (or both) middle-aged fella who seemed to be mostly amusing himself repeating the same joke over and over again until someone would laugh. I only felt slightly less out of place in my very non-hipster warm clothing vs. the jeggings and other warm weather fashions the rest of the kids were sporting. The importance of this moment was best summarized by two young lads standing outside in the cold. (Lad #1) “Dude, why are we doing this?” (Dude) “Because they (donuts) are awesome.”
Schneider’s offers a good late night deal for the kids. For $1 you get a donut with a glass or chocolate or regular milk. Every person (twenty) in front of me opted for that option. Then came me. I threw the whole process out of whack. I was here to get a box of donuts. In between Sophie’s choice level decisions about what and how many of each type of donut I needed, I was asking questions and snapping photos on the fly. To the members of the class of 2013 that froze longer because of me I offer my apologies and a word of wisdom – don’t wear flip-flops in the winter.
(see my selections below)
Schneider’s donut selection is pretty impressive. The guy behind the counter goes out of his way to make sure you get the freshest of the fresh of any donut selected (since you did stay up late / get up early to come see him). The crowd favorites seem to be the glazed blueberry cake donut and the standard yeast donut hot out of the fryer. The donut selection is deep in the raspberry, lemon and custard filled categories so I picked up several of those. I was intrigued by the Davy Crockett a massive, roundish cinnamon fried donut with maple icing. I sampled my donuts later in the day with a twitter based tasting team. We found the donuts to be consistently good. None could be as good as the hot donut I had at one in the morning. If you want to create a memory for yourself, hit Schneider’s for an early morning donut run.
6 South State Street
Tuesday – Thursday
1:30 am to 6:00 pm
1:00 am to 6:00 pm
1:00 am to 3:00 pm
(Donuts at your own risk after 6 am)