Friday, December 27, 2013

I'm Nuts, You're Nuts, We're All Nuts for Spudnuts

Going through some of my collected ephemera the other day, I came across this postcard.  

I don't recall where I picked it up, but it was most likely in a lot of postcards I bought at some garage or estate sale.

The post-WWII period was one of great entrepreneurship.  Privately-owned businesses sprung up like so many mushrooms, or in this case, potatoes.  

Spudnuts was the vision of brothers Al and Bob Pelton.  Having eaten potato flour doughnuts in Germany, they decided to bring their version of them to America.  Originally opening their first stand in 1940 (or 1946 depending on the source), the brothers franchised the  restaurant in 1947, seven years before Ray Kroc would take franchising and McDonald's to new heights.  By that time, the Pelton brothers had expanded Spudnuts to 38 states with 300  locations.  

Mr. Spudnut

According to the postcard and the ad below, they also served something called an "Orange Rufus", presumably a cousin to "Julius".

1952 ad for the Boulder City, NV store from the postcard

When the brothers retired and sold the business in 1968, sales were over $25 million making Spudnuts the largest donut franchise in the United States.  

The kitchen at Spudnuts

Unfortunately, like so many businesses, under new management, direction changed, their mascot "Mr. Spudnut" was replaced, and the company changed ownership once again.  The new owner made some bad investments and eventually went bankrupt in 1979 leaving the franchisees holding the bag (of potatoes). 

There are still about 35 Spudnut individually owned locations in business today scattered throughout the United States and Canada. 

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