Tender Fluff, Jackson (Ohio Donut Trail)
Posted by cmh gourmand on October 17, 2016
My quest to wrap up the southern leg of the Ohio Donut Trail took me to Jackson Ohio to try not one but two donuteries. My first stop was in Jackson proper to visit Tender Fluff Donuts. The name has a decades old history in Jackson with the original location on Broadway. In 2012, Tender Fluff drifted away from the town center to slightly off the beaten railroad tracks on Harding Ave. The present location is three times larger than Tender Fluff 1.0 and it needs to be. By report the space creates 200 – 300 dozen donuts a day. In addition to customers frequenting the shop the business delivers to over 30 locations in the region.
The place does not make an impression which makes one want to “come hither”. It is a nondescript cinder block building with minimal signage and limited frontage and windows. Just a short hop away from the railroad tracks and while not at a major intersection, the area seems to be a high volume thoroughfare for the whole county – countless cars streamed past me as I was circling Tender Fluff to get a lay of the land and figure out where to park, it lacks ambiance. However the first rule of donut exploration is “don’t judge a donut by its building”.
When I walked through the door, I had the feeling of being the greenhorn walking into an old western bar. The ladies gathered around the table knew me for the outsider I was. After watching me gaze around the space and looking dejectedly at the dozens of empty plastic tubs lining the counters and tables one of the donut slingers directed me to the main counter. She guided the greenhorn to the last creme horns and random remaining donuts. The place is open until 1 pm but often sells out well before that. I came through the door just after high noon. I could tell from my clinical style observations that hours ago there had been at least fifty varieties of donuts in this space. Even the bins labeled day old donuts were bare to the bottom.
The display case had maybe thirty donuts left and since it looked like the ladies were getting ready to call it a day I was offered a deal – a dozen of any type, even the “specials” for $8. That is a good deal, especially when I was given a true bakers dozen. Among my assortment was a cannoli. I am always wary of any cannoli in Ohio. Over 95% of what I have tried in the Buckeye state have been a dismal disappointment (since my cannoli baseline is based on the Italian bakeries of old Boston, it is a high bar). Because of my past cannoli experiences, I did not bother to try the one I picked up until the next day…..and it was SUPERIOR! The key to Tender Fluff is to get to the doors early (5:30 or 6:00 am).
The other donuts and “specials” I tried were all of high quality. In particular, the simple, long thin stick donuts were melt in your mouth light and featured a thin, sweet glaze which helped these tubes of dough slight right down into my belly. The icing used as filling in two of the donuts was also among some of the best I have tried in my dough fueled travels. Another interesting feature, Tender Fluff offers both soft and hard creme horns. I have never been a creme horn advocate but in this case the soft creme horn was a game changer for me and a perfect platform for delivering large volumes of creme.
A few other tasting notes. My next destination for the day was 4 Mile Bakery a few miles away. Located at the mid-point between these two donut purveyors is a local favorite Rowdy’s Smokehouse . I, of course picked up an order of BBQ to go (to eat on my way to McArthur). Even though Rowdy’s messed up my order, I was impressed with what I consumed (over several days).
Tender Fluff on Facebook
91 Harding Ave.
740 286 6619
Monday to Friday 5:30 am to 1 pm
Saturday 6 am until all is gone