Is it “doughnut” or “donut?” No one ever knows, and by no one I mean me.
If you’re curious as to why there are two spellings, I did some investigating and have an answer. “Doughnut” is the traditional spelling, but “donut” gained popularity thanks to Dunkin’ Donuts’ success. For the sake of this article, I will use the traditional spelling.
Yes, I know it was National Doughnut Day last week. Yes, I know there are a ton of other doughnut articles. Yes, yes, yes. But doughnuts are delicious and they deserve coverage.
So I sat down with Alex Beebe of Pepperbox Doughnuts in his native habitat of Plaza Midwood. Beebe has been in the restaurant and baking industry for 10 years. He uses his knowledge of flavor profiles to come up with new menu items for his doughnut pop-ups at breweries across Charlotte.
Pepperbox is still relatively new, it just started at the beginning of the year, but Beebe said opening a brick-and-mortar storefront is the end goal.
Beebe is passionate about his craft, but said doughnuts are meant to be fun and a little bit messy. I agree.
“Nothing snooty,” he said. “We might use nice ingredients and everything, but don’t call us gourmet.”
I took a group of friends with me to his pop-up at Legion Brewing last month. There was no arm twisting or begging to get them to go — say “doughnuts” and the masses will come.
They will cost you three bucks a pop and are made from a yeast dough that Beebe perfected two years ago.
The menu changes every time, but here’s the menu from last month:
Blackberry Candied Kiwi
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Rhubarb Vanilla Bean
Bacon Apple Fritter
Pepperbox is delicious. The dough is somewhat savory and pairs well with the sweet toppings, which makes Pepperbox different from other doughnuts I’ve tried. The Blackberry Candied Kiwi doughnut is the best-seller. I was skeptical at first, but after trying numerous flavors this was my favorite by far.
While the doughnut market seems saturated, especially here in Charlotte, Pepperbox has the opportunity to make a name for itself.
“I think it’s a good middle ground between some of the places that are leaning more high-end and some of the places that are like chain and service,” Beebe said.
Here’s where you can find PepperBox this month:
6/12 — Tip Top Daily Market at 2 p.m., 2902 The Plaza
6/18 — Triple C Brewing Co. at 2 p.m., 2900 Griffith St.
6/26 — Red Clay Ciderworks at 12 p.m., 245 Clanton Road
Fun fact: Beebe eats a doughnut everywhere he travels. He recently took a prolonged trip to the Midwest, mostly to visit VooDoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon.
“That was like my doughnut mecca,” he said. “I had to make the trip up to the holy land.”
I adopted his traveling doughnut idea and am now on the hunt for the best doughnut everywhere I go. The first thing I marked off my list was a doughnut from Five Daughters Bakery in Nashville.
Have doughnut suggestions? Don’t be shy, send them my way on Twitter.
Photos: Sarah Headley