Date of Visit: Friday, October 17, 2008 at 2:00 p.m.
IMPRESSIONS: I’m going to be up front and tell you that this review is woefully, deliciously incomplete, because it’s really focused on one item – donuts – from a bakery. Not necessarily a breakfast place, but a breakfast item nonetheless. I have been inside Lindsey’s Bakery twice in my life, and both times it has been during the awesome Circleville Pumpkin Show. You see, the small town of Circleville, Ohio, is known for hosting “The Greatest Free Show on Earth,” which it has been doing skillfully since 1903. You could keep an entire blog just on the Pumpkin Show. It’s my absolute favorite festival (and I love festivals). Circleville shuts down for four days so that visitors can celebrate all things autumn-related (and, really, the pumpkin is the centerpiece of autumn, is it not?) and revel in quintessential American small-town-ness. My wife and I have been visiting annually since 2003; we look forward to it each year, even though, really, nothing changes.
Four years ago, we waited, along with my brother- and sister-in-law, for 45 minutes in the pouring rain to taste warm pumpkin donuts from Lindsey’s Bakery… and it was TOTALLY. WORTH. IT. Over the following years, the lines were simply too long for us to wait for them (see above), so we’ve gone without. But this year we visited in the afternoon, when the line was long but moving fast. So we stuck it out for ten minutes and soon found ourselves the proud owners of two dozen warm Lindsey’s pumpkin donuts.
Lindsey’s is decorated probably as sparsely as you can. There are about four display cases, a counter, a couple pictures on the wall, and that’s it. I’m sure that, during normal business hours, the cases are full of donuts, cookies, and cakes, but during the Pumpkin Show the lineup is narrowed down to some pumpkin rolls, boxes of cookies, and trays of warm donuts. The donuts barely get a chance to sit out, as customers buy them up by the dozen. Check out the wall of pre-boxed cookies below!
From what I’ve heard, Lindsey’s also holds the world record for the largest pumpkin pie. Traditionally, they bake this gigantic pie ever year (6 feet in diameter; 400 pounds) and put it in their shop, but I think someone, somewhere around the world broke their record. Now the pie in store is labeled “The World’s GREATEST Pumpkin Pie.” Quality over quantity, I guess.
However, if I understand correctly, Lindsey’s reclaimed the record at the 100th anniversary of the Pumpkin Show when they baked a fourteen-foot pie that required it’s own tent out front. It was an amazing site to behold – I could have made a snow angel (or pie angel, I guess) in the middle of the pie.
ATMOSPHERE: Because I’ve been only during the Pumpkin Show, I can only describe Lindsey’s atmosphere as incredibly busy. This past trip, I counted six people bustling about in the back (that I could see), plus another five out front. That’s eleven people (that I could see) running a tiny bakery. They whipped out the trays of donuts and cookies like nobody’s business.
And how about a few words:
These donuts are a hands-down the best donuts I’ve ever had. They’re the perfect balance: lightly glazed and pumpkin-y without being too sweet or too spicy. Just imagine holding a warm donut in your hands on a chilly autumn day.
SERVICE: The folks at Lindsey’s are great. During the Pumpkin Show they are completely swamped, but they seem to have a good sense of humor about it.
When Kurt and I approached the register and asked for two dozen donuts, the woman behind the counter (the one in the green shirt) rolled her eyes and said, “I was hoping for an easy one.” She only had a half-dozen in front of her, so she scooted into the back and came out with a full tray (that was quickly emptied). When I asked her how many donuts they sell over the pumpkin show, she stared at me blankly and said, “We have no idea.” That many, huh?
(Side note: the Pumpkin Show website FAQ lists “Over 100,000.”)
OVERALL: I’ll definitely be back to Lindsey’s at the next Pumpkin Show. They actually make the pumpkin donuts year round, but I’ve never made it down to pick them up, usually because the one day I can go is Sunday, and the bakery is closed. Still, if you’re passing through Circleville or hitting up the Pumpkin Show, stop by Lindsey’s. It’s quintessentially small-town America… heck, the bakery is even located on Main Street!
-> Circleville Pumpkin Show on Wikipedia