Winona = Donut Heaven

Know what makes Winona great? Well, a lot of things, but man do we ever have some good donuts. Not just good donuts, but the kind of good that people will write home about, that they will make a special trip for, that they will line up down the sidewalk for. Don’t believe me? Drive down Broadway some Saturday morning at about 8 a.m. and check out the line outside of Bloedow Bakery.

People who live in the neighborhood call it “Bloedow Valley” because every morning at 4 a.m., the sweet smell of donuts starts wafting from the historic shop. It’s like a hypnotic code and they all rise from their beds and go line up outside the bakery. Okay just kidding, but only barely.

Saveur Magazine, an epicurean authority of global stature, confirmed what we here in Winona have known for almost 100 years: Bloedow Bakery makes some killer donuts. As in to die for. And they told the world about it in an issue that feature a roundup of the 50 best donut shops in the country. And of course, Bloedow was in there because when you’re talking about that kind of lip-smacking heaven, word gets out.

No one really knows how Saveur heard about Winona’s little bakery, though it might have something to do with the fact that Bloedow’s was dubbed the best donut shop in Minnesota last year by CBS affiliate WCCO more than once. In fact, when WCCO polled its followers asking what the best donut shop in the state was, Bloedow’s pummeled the competition with more than twice as many votes as the next runner up. I’d call that a trouncing.

So what IS it about those donuts that makes them so dang good? I just don’t know. I mean, donuts are donuts, right? They have some yeast and some sugar and some frosting and, and… But there is some kind of magic that happens when you bite into one of those things from Bloedow’s. You get teleported to a happy place where the signposts and flowers and sidewalks are made of sugar and everyone is smiling and little birds made out of sugar are singing and you just lay on the sugar grass and savor every delicious bite…  I know. Snap out of it. But goll darn it if I wouldn’t love one of those sugar comas right now.

To be fair, it’s not all sugar coating. There is some donut in there too, and I don’t know what they cook those things in (in fact, I think it’s a secret) but sweet lord – the whole thing just melts in your mouth. My personal favorite – the maple long johns, of course. Ah-mazing. I think I can actually hear myself getting fatter when I eat them, but let’s face it, you shouldn’t go to a donut shop if you’re on a diet. I mean a serious diet. Unless you’re having a bad day, then go in for sure. Besides, Bloedow Bakery makes all kinds of stuff – breads and cookies and rolls and such. But let’s be honest here – pretty much everyone goes there for the donuts.

On Visit Winona’s Facebook page, the question was posed a little while ago – asking people what their favorite Bloedow donut was. Holy smokes. The answers were all over the place, and I found out about varieties I didn’t even know existed. Now, of course, I’m going to have to try them, and pretty soon we’ll need a wheelbarrow to get me around. But I’ll be smiling 🙂


15 thoughts on “Winona = Donut Heaven

  1. Rebecca Wolf says:

    I graduated college in 1998 and we still take a yearly trek to Winona and Bloedow’s is usually one of our first stops. My favorite is whipped cream filled with chocolate on top. My husband’s is ANYTHING maple, and our kids like them all. We usually stock up with 2 dozen and say we’re going to freeze them…but honestly? In 14 years, that’s happened twice. They’re usually gone in 4-5 days. 🙂

  2. Susan J. says:

    I love them all (I consider myself an equal opportunity doughnut lover), but I think my favorite would have to be the chocolate frosted cake doughnuts–simple and delicious! As far as what makes them so good, well . . . the only explanation I can think of is magic!

  3. Nancy says:

    Glazed-raised–a donut classic.

    I haven’t lived in Winona for 33 years, but visit each summer and visit Bloedow’s, specifically. It’s part of the “Winona Experience” for me and for my husband and children–all current Vermonters.

  4. Catherine says:

    Our Bambenek clan has long paid tribute to Bloedow’s and we don’t discriminate against kinds or flavors; however, maple long johns and chocolate cake donuts are coveted amongst my family spread far and wide. My Uncle must make semi-annual pilgrimages from Ohio with special coolers to bring back greatness to his growing family. These are no ordinary donuts! They aren’t mass-produced in some factory. Those of us who are fortunate to have been brought up on these delectable doughy desserts (appropriate at any hour) understand that you take your chances if you’re not there early enough on Saturday and some donuts are made only on certain days of the week. Bloedow’s is more than a local favorite; it represents a simpler time with flashes of childhood in every bite.

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