Voodoo Doughnuts have one thing in common with other doughnuts: the empty space at the center. That is to say: nothing.
What other doughnut shop sells concoctions like the Memphis Mafia (a glazed doughnut with chocolate chips, banana, and peanut butter), the Bacon Maple Bar (with real bacon), and the Butter Fingering (devil’s food, vanilla, and crushed Butterfinger)? These are just a few of the exotic creations on the menu at Portland’s Voodoo Doughnut.
The shop was opened in 2003 by Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson and Tres Shannon, two friends who decided they wanted to start a business and decided on doughnuts — though neither had ever made a doughnut in his life.
“We both came up with the idea and we both realized there wasn’t a single doughnut shop in downtown Portland,” Pogson says.
“We needed to learn how to make doughnuts. So we went to L.A. and took lessons. Then we’d drive around and give them away. One time we gave a doughnut to Brad Pitt.”
If you want to taste a Voodoo Doughnut, you have to go the source. It does not ship out of state. But it does sell T-shirts and panties around the world. And it brings a bit of the world back to Portland, with Swahili lessons in the shop every Monday night (started by one of the cooks at the shops). Other events include eating contests, bachelorette parties, and weddings (there’s a chapel on site).
Pogson and Shannon may have put the nut in doughnut, but they also recognize a profitable business when they see one. Their Cock-n-Balls doughnut (a cream-filled invention that looks as adolescent as it sounds) costs 25 cents to make and sells for $5.
The business is growing 100 percent every eight months, Pogson says, and there are plans for Voodoo II in 2008, with a larger Swahili classroom and drive-in theater.
It seems there is nothing these two won’t try — at least once. Pogson recalls the time they put together a Guava-Jägermeister-filled doughnut. But it didn’t last. “It was just plain nasty.”