For over 20 years my wife has been dragging me back to Indiana for one thing or another. Usually it’s your typical family functions; holidays, birthdays, graduations, weddings and funerals.
Our journey together started in Indiana, and after all these years I thought I knew every one of my wife’s friends and every one of her haunts around the state. That’s why it was such a shock when I found out about Mary Lou. Throughout all of our years together I’d never heard of Mary Lou. Not once. And from what I’m finding out, she’s known throughout the state. Of course to most she’s known by her full name: Mary Lou Donuts.
Mary Lou Donuts has been a Lafayette, Indiana institution for over 50 years, about as long as I’ve been on earth, but until recently I had no clue. How could this be? We travel back to Lafayette regularly. That’s where most of my wife’s immediate family lives. Her parents have lived in Lafayette for as long as we’ve been together. (Okay, technically they lived in West Lafayette when we first started dating, but the difference between Lafayette and West Lafayette is only apparent to the people who live or go to school there.)
But not once was Mary Lou Donuts ever mentioned in a conversation. Now to be fair, when we head back to Indiana we don’t often eat donuts. Saturday breakfast is usually reserved for another Lafayette institution, The Downtower (where Yolanda nearly hands you your regular drink as you walk in the door).
Over the years if we did get donuts, her folks usually made a quick trip up the road to Corlew Donut Company, another local doughnut baker. Now don’t get me wrong, I can’t remember the last time I ate a donut I didn’t enjoy, but I also can’t remember anything special from the few times we’ve had donuts from the Donut Company.
So how did Mary Lou finally enter my life after all these years? Her name actually came up by accident just a few weeks ago. My wife and I were on one of our weekend trips, this time traveling on Route 66 in Illinois. We had started our day in Joliet, IL and stopped at Joliet’s award winning Homecut Donuts for a quick breakfast treat. As we enjoyed our donuts my wife mentioned that one of the Homecut Donuts reminded her of the donuts from Mary Lou’s. Mary Lou? I had no clue who or what my wife was talking about. She looked at me like I was crazy. It was at that point she finally realized I had never experienced the donuts from Mary Lou’s. She promised me that the next time we were in Lafayette she’d get up early and grab a dozen or two.
Well, the wait to meet Mary Lou wouldn’t be much longer. We already had our next Indiana trip on the books. We were going to be in Lafayette to celebrate our nephew’s first communion and my mother-in-law’s birthday just a few weeks later. I’d been in the dark about Mary Lou Donuts this long, I could survive just a few weeks more.
Now I wouldn’t say that I’m a doughnut aficionado, but I’ve eaten my unfair share. There aren’t many people who get to be my size without enjoying a donut or two…..dozen. Apple Fritters, cinnamon rolls, glazed, jelly filled, cream filled, I honestly love ’em all and wanted to see if Mary Lou’s would live up to my new expectations.
So last weekend, as promised, my wife got up early (before we headed to breakfast with the whole family at The Downtowner) and stopped by the small Swiss chalet style building that nearly everyone in Lafayette (but obviously NOT me) go to to get their doughnut fix. It’s just a few miles from her parent’s house, so it wasn’t long before my wife returned with the goodies. She bought a couple dozen (for the whole family not just me) and got an assortment so I could get an good idea why everyone in the area loved Mary Lou.
I had a couple right then, and have to admit I did enjoy them. Were they the best donuts I’d ever had….no. Were they better than average, without a doubt. Will it be 20+ years before we visit Mary Lou again? I can guarantee you that we’ll see Mary Lou again VERY soon. How my wife had ‘forgotten’ to mention Mary Lou Donuts I’ll never know, but I’m glad that I finally met this Lafayette legend.
I wish I could share them with you right now, but in all honesty I don’t often share my donuts. I have to keep up my physique. But I am willing to share a few pictures with you! Here’s just a sample of what Mary Lou has to offer 6 days a week. So far, my only complaint about my new friend Mary Lou…. she’s closed on Sundays. Click on the image to see these beauties up close. And make sure to have a napkin handy!