Thursday, July 28, 2011

I present to you: The Maple Long John

During the summer my lunch time options have revolved around simple sandwiches. 2 or 3 slices of meat (most of the time seasoned turkey), 1 or 2 slices of cheese (Colby Jack!), some mustard, on a piece of bread broken in half to form the two sides. This has been working great, honestly it has been working for the last year. Inspired by Brian at LM, I went out and got a sandwich Tupperware. It is exactly what you think it is. It is a plastic container in the shape of a piece of bread. Brian pointed out that you waste a lot of money and trash on plastic sandwich bags. I got my sandwich holder for about a dollar or two at Walmart.

Ok, I am digressing from my story. Most of the time I use Larry's bread, seeing as I only use 4 or 5 slices of bread every week. And Larry normally buys a bag every week, and only uses half of it. At one point we had 3 half loves of bread in our kitchen. This has become the one single thing that I eat of Larry's, everything else is separate. But for whatever reason he has stopped buying bread. So on Tuesday I realized that I had used the last piece of decent bread. Then I forgot to stop by the store... and I found myself Wednesday morning breadless. So I packed my lunch meat, cheese and mustard in to my bag and headed off to work. I stopped by a Giant Eagle in Greensburg to pick up the bread I needed.

I realized while I was there that this was the very first time I had been in a Giant Eagle before noon. Ever. And I walked past the bakery section, and out of curiosity I had to stop and look at the Donut options....

Their so called "Maple Long John"
... And there it was. The closest thing to a Maple Bar I have seen outside of the west coast. On the donut rack there was a prominent display of Chocolate Long Johns, and 4 or 5 'maple' ones underneath. For the sake of science I had to get one.

For those of you who think this is a silly thing to be posting about, it is not. This is amazing. This cultural distinction of the Pacific Northwest fascinates me. Even more than how people get their panties in a wad about Pop or Soda (we called it both... or as Chelsea taught me 'bolth'), Even more than 5 Guys vs In-n-Out. Even more than Creek and Creek (it is creek, not crick). This anomaly gets me. I became aware of this when I was describing Donut Parade to Bill in college. I was telling him that Russ, one of his friends and I polished off a dozen super fresh Maple Bars. For you people in Spokane, if you have not been here, you should make it a point sometime soon, it as amazing. Back to the story, Bill looked at me funny and said: "What is a Maple Bar?" This question seemed so out of place. That was like asking what is a snickers bar? Or what is a Banana Split? Maple Bars are ubiquitous in Spokane. I would argue that 1/3 of Donut sales in Spokane are Maple Bars. Bill really had no idea of what I was talking about. Through an amusing discussion for both of us, we determined that in Kansas City, a donut most similar to a Maple Bar was a Long John. It was distinctly different in that Long Johns have Chocolate Frosting, and are often filled with cream. When I told him that what he was describing would be called a Chocolate Maple bar in Spokane, and that it would never be filled, he laughed at me. Eventually Bill did go to Donut Parade with his parents (who had never had a maple bar before either) and it became a family tradition from then on out: whenever Bill's parents were in town they would all go to Donut Parade.

So this factoid subsided. I just assumed that Kansas City was weird. But then one day, 3 years later at Lockheed, Jordan and I were talking about Spudnuts a local donut shop in Richland, when Mike over heard us talking about how good their Maple Bars were. Mike, a Michigan native, asked what a Maple bar was, and honestly thought we were pulling his leg. At that point I did a little research, aka a Wikipedia search, and found out that Maple Bars are unique to the Pacific Northwest. Yes, Yes, they have flooded in to California, but they just copy everything we do anyway.... This blew my mind. I had no idea that we were so special! I don't know how the rest of the US lives with themselves without the glorious Maple Bar. It is always great when describing what a Maple Bar is to someone to let them know that they can be served with Chili according to the Spokane School lunch system for the past 50 years.

Note: If you search for Maple Bars on Wikipedia now, you will get a very short 2 line page saying they are a donut. It used to have a lot more information about the Maple Bar, including a reference to Voodoo Donut in Portland, but since the WikiNazis have cleansed the page of anything interesting.

Oh! And as for the actual donut that I ate yesterday. It was fine. It was a little weird that it had filling inside of it. This kind of over powered the maple taste. Thinking back, I don't really remember eating that many donuts... I would say once a month or so I would end up eating one. Like at coffee after church, or vendors would bring them to LM when trying to sell us something.... But I did not expect that I would miss a Maple Bar as much as I did. It was a good substitute, but nothing can beat Donut Parade's Maple Bars. The rest of the world does not know what they are missing.

7 comments:

  1. ...mmmmm and as a kid the incredible "Texas Doughnut" maple bar style. An awesome 14 inches by 4 inches and covered with yummy maple frosting! As I recall the cost was $0.25. :-)

    TheforK

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  2. I knew what a maple bar was growing up (just had never heard of it served with chili!) But I have heard that Donut Parade is the best and that you need to add it and Calico Kitchen with Russ to your list of "to do" in Spokane in a few weeks!!!

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  3. I had to have this conversation with a coworker from Seattle the other day. You weird northwesterners and your 'maple bars'.

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  4. I made sure Andrew experienced a Spokane maple bar when he was here (though it was from Mike's, my personal favorite over Donut Parade)! Actually, he had one in Portland covered in bacon too.

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  5. That makes me so happy.

    I still have not been to Voodoo, but really want to.

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  6. Rachel PacNW to PackerOctober 23, 2012 at 10:34 PM

    Love your blog post!! I'm a Spokane native transplanted to SW WI and worked a few years in a Chicago suburb. NOBODY here knows what a maple bar is. When I've ever mentioned them, people think I am talking about a chocolate bar (i.e., candy bar) that is made out of maple candy. A few months back my local Walmart had some maple glazed long johns that actually had the right maple icing on them....then I would see them by the dozens on the clearance racks..oh Wisconsinites, can't see the maple-y goodness through their love of cheese, beer, and brats! I haven't seen them in the store for many months and they seem to have been replaced by caramel iced doughnuts. Not even close!!! Thanks for the fun read. Oh, and we did have a family tradition of chili and maple bars, especially in autumn and ALWAYS on Halloween night!

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  7. The ones we had in the school cafeteria were baked so not a true doughnut. They were always served with Texas chili and you always wanted a corner or edge maple bar out of the pan cause the maple frosting was thicker. It was the same bread mix they made cheese zombies kind of sweeter on the mix like a Hawaiian sweet bread. Cheese zombies were a little more savory and always served with tomato soup. To this day if I make chili at home I've got to have it with a store bought doughnut maple bar. Something about that sweet and spicy savory coming together that is just party in your mouth.

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