ButchIt was like a tsunami of memories of my hometown, Binghamton, NY in a 48-hour period, and it took me quite by surprise, since I usually don’t think that much about the place.

ITEM: There’s this guy named John who remembered my parents and grandmothers. He’s been following me on Facebook the last few months. He attended the church I attended, Trinity A.M.E. Zion in the hometown, and was in the junior choir about a decade before I was, under the direction of Fred Goodall, who was there for decades.

John had a good friend named Butch Skeene, (b. 1940) also in my church junior choir before I was, who performed in the music business from 1958 to 2013 in that area and beyond. I’m sure I’d heard him perform at some point; I know one of my sisters did quite often in our Binghamton days. Anyway, he died this week of cancer, and I was oddly saddened, as though I had lost a relative.

ITEM: I’m at the dinner table, and suddenly I remember these doughnuts we used to get when my sisters and I were kids, either white powder or plain. Three rows of four, with a cellophane top so you could see inside. I remembered that the logo was blue and white, but I couldn’t remember the BRAND name.

I wrote to my sisters and the elder of them remembered. I found this article from 2009:

After doing an Internet search, I’ve discovered a whole world of upstate New York Baby Boomers all in a desperate search for Spaulding Krullers! Apparently I wasn’t the only one hooked on these wonderful doughnuts with their delicious nutmeg flavor

More informative was this piece from an Oneonta newspaper last year:

Another iconic doughnut was the Spaulding kruller. They came in an unmistakable orange- and white-striped boxes. This was “our” doughnut because their bakery was in Binghamton, their distribution center was on Market Street in Oneonta and they could be found in every mom-and-pop store in every community no matter how big or how small.
spaulding
They mastered the art of making the sugar doughnut. Rather than just being a snowy dust ball that ended up flaking all over your new shirt, the Spaulding sugar kruller had a mysterious paste-like quality to it that allowed the sugar to stay (mostly) on the doughnut and not on your clothes. Spaulding eventually went out of business, being bought up by Stroehmanns and today is owned by (believe it or not) Bimbo Bakeries!

Spaulding krullers still come in the familiar orange-and-white-striped box that carries their company slogan, “famous for flavor.” It may be just me but now that they’re made by Bimbo they don’t taste anything like the ones that came out of the bakery on Exchange Street in Binghamton oh those many years ago.

How the heck did I forget that striped box? I DO recall that, unlike most powdered sugar donuts you’d eat now, the powder DID stay with the donut, as also noted in this piece and this one. Apparently, Bimbo has discontinued the brand at the end of last year, alas.

ITEM: My baby sister saw a name on Facebook and the surname reminded her of Binghamton, where she hasn’t lived since 1974. I knew of some of these folks too, but the kicker for me is that the very first girl I ever kissed, named Mary, had the same surname. It may have been mistletoe-fueled passion, and nothing ever came from that moment, but still..

ITEM: What’s Goin’ On in Binghamton. A newish website, about six months old.

20 Responses to “Binghamton: Butch Skeene, and Spaulding Krullers”

  • Thanks for the GREAT article, Roger. As mentioned previously, one of my many WONDERFUL mentors as a young “know it all, sing at the drop of a hat, or play ya’ a tune on my Clarinet or Sax” brat (smile)…yes a mentor for me was Mrs. AGATHA GREEN, your Grandmother…So many times, in addition to my Parents, Mrs. Green, your Dad/Mom, and so many others, I thank GOD for the influence they had on this “Little Colored Boy” (smile)…I’m sure so many are looking down on you from above..so PROUD …Hey, I’m proud of you too!

  • NICK VARANO says:

    ROGER, OUR COMMON LITTLE CITY AND RELATIVE YOUTHFUL TIME SHAPED OUR MEMORIES TO BE KIN. MANY OF US ARE DEEPLY SADDENED BY THE PASSING OF BUTCH. TO HAVE EVEN A CASUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH HIM WAS, TO SAY THE LEAST, PROFOUND. ALSO, ON THE WAY TO ST. MARY’S SCHOOL I WOULD WALK BY EXCHANGE ST. AND PASS SPAULDING’S ALL THE TIME IN THE EARLY 60s. LOVED THEIR KRULLERS. WHO DIDN’T?

  • Just want to share this beautiful version of the classic song from West Side Story as done by Childhood Friend, who I have known since he was 10 and I was 8 both singing in the Junior Choir at Trinity A.M.E. Zion Church in Binghamton NY…Then later being a part of a few entertainment groups, he singing, me playing tenor sax…Then he staying “in the business” for an overall 55 years (1958-2013) …BUTCH SKEENE (1940-2014)…”SOMEWHERE”…https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=562892283807197

  • Roger, I’m glad I heard about Butch’s passing from you. Somehow it was easier to take, you know? His version of “Color My World” was IT. Always smiling, nobody’s fool, a bit of trouble with the juice – but who didn’t in those days? I sure as hell did. Butch was someone with whom, no matter how long it had been, I would always share a heartfelt hug. We were both singers, and that was a special bond… plus, of course, the hometown connection.

    Spaulding Krullers. You warned me you’d be posting on the subject. I looked at the picture of the box and almost cried again (once for Butch, once for fond food memory). The plain ones, dunked in black coffee… HEAVEN. So much better than the lightweight, greasy spools of today.

    Great post, Roger. Butch, rest in peace, my friend. Amy

  • terry ray says:

    I remember tgese from when I was a kid they were awesome they don’t make tgem like tgey used to people don’t know what tgeir missing

  • Anonymous says:

    Spaulding Krullers are still sold in the Elmira/Corning area.

  • nanook says:

    They were my favorite. I had them a few years ago but they weren’t anything like what I remembered. Hot chocolate(or chocolate milk) and krullers was my favorite snack when i was a kid. Maybe I can find a box of the original on eBay or something.lol

  • I am looking for Corny Fields,from our home town of Binghamton.I also have found memories of Bitch,he dated my cousin Patty for many years.If anybody can help plz let me know on Facebook,Maryellen Culp-Friedman.Thanks very Much.Gidget

  • I hope my comment came through…looking for Corny Fields

  • mimi says:

    I want donuts!

  • Robert watkins says:

    Former Spaulding route driver loved thekruellers I. Came up 28th the idea for a two pack krueller Spaulding went out. Business Nov 81 the krueller was sold to milbrook bakery and when thay went out stroemans bought them and bebo bought stroemans no preservatives in any of their products

  • Diane Perrella says:

    Roger, thank you so much!! I have been writing a poem for a while now and “needed” to fill it in with the Krullers… The photo brings back so many memories.

  • Mark Zieno says:

    FYI, I just bought Spaulding Krullers today at Weis Market in Binghamton.

  • Nick Potenziani says:

    Hi I was a mechanic at the Spaulding terminal in Danbury Ct until it closed in 1979 and everyone that I know misses the Spaulding Kruller in the orange and white striped box with the see through cellophane window on top.
    I have a summer home in Andes NY and I would like to know where I can buy Spaulding Krullers
    Any town in Connecticut or the Catskills , please help me find a store that sells them
    Thanks. Nick Potenziani

  • Roger says:

    Nick – back in 2009, there was a reference to them at the GIANT grocery stores in Binghamton. However, there is a real dispute online whether it’s the same recipe. I have to check it out next time I’m there.

  • Rick west says:

    Where can I purchase Spaulding donuts in the 13807 area code

  • Rick west says:

    Trying to find whe e I can purchase Spaulding Donuts in my area: loved them for a good number of years and now can not buy them here !

  • Ellen Willis Mote says:

    I grew up outside of Scranton and now live in NC. My husband and I just sat down for our first apple cider and powdered sugar donuts of the fall season and got to wondering about Spaulding Krullers. Thank goodness for the internet and hometown bloggers! I recall the donuts as full size in a single row in the box. We had a neighbor who loved to make the joke “Smells like krullers, don’t it? Thanks for the fond memories!

  • Ellen Willis Mote says:

    Maybe it was the nutmeg that made them smell so distinctive?

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