The name Fractured Prune tells us two things. First, inside jokes don’t travel well. Because as many times as the company tells its tale about Prunella Shriek, the athlete who had a knack for injuring herself playing “men’s” sports, it still sounds more like a joke than anything else. Second, the doughnuts have to be pretty good to overcome a name that bad. Just how good, I decided to find out.
Fractured Prune, which started in Ocean City, Maryland nearly forty years ago and just opened a shop at 1102 South Colorado Boulevard, is a portmanteau of concepts: part Krispy Kreme, with its hot doughnuts now, and part frozen yogurt shop, with fifteen toppings lined up in rows. Only the Prune has managed to one-up them both. Here doughnuts are made to order, so they’re always hot now. And those toppings aren’t wasted on frozen yogurt, but lavished on a doughnut, surely one of man’s finer creations.
While my kids and I puzzled over the options, a friendly employee gave us the lowdown: Doughnuts cost $1.79 and come with your choice of glaze and two toppings. After considering the merits of such frostings as key lime, blackberry and mocha, and debating combinations such as peanuts and bacon, we filled out a form similar to a sushi menu, settling on a mix of custom creations and pre-set favorites.
At that moment, and not a second before, enough batter for our nine doughnuts was squirted out of a mixing bowl into a vat of hot oil prominently situated behind the register. In less than two minutes, the fat rings puffed and bobbed their way to a fine state of golden. Plucked by a gloved hand, they were speedily dipped upside down into the glazes we’d chosen, then swiveled – still upside down – into brightly-colored candies, sprinkles, vanilla wafers, cinnamon sugar, etc. The system seemed like it would put your peanut butter in my chocolate, and your chocolate in my peanut butter — and I said as much to the girl making our doughnuts. “We have to clean them out a lot,” she said, not looking up from the toppings because at this stage in the game, every second counted. Her goal was to deliver hot doughnuts, and hot they were as she handed over our box.
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They were still hot by the time we reached the car — so hot, in fact, that they crumbled like a sand castle after one bite, a tasty freefall of tender vanilla cake. (Despite all the glazes and toppings, there’s only one choice of base.) My kids inhaled their creations: maple glaze with vanilla wafers and sprinkles; caramel glaze with mini chocolate-covered candies (aka generic M&M’s) and sprinkles; and chocolate glaze with more knock-off M&M’s and bacon. I, however, found them a shade — or three — too sweet, preferring the simpler OC Sand, with honey glaze and cinnamon sugar.
We’d over-ordered; it’s hard not to at Fractured Prune. But hours later, when I pulled the box from the car after a few Doors Open Denver tours, I found I liked the doughnuts more than ever. No longer hot, the cakes had firmed up enough to support the toppings, the chocolate chips that had melted into a gooey mess had re-solidified and, most important, the shells were still deliciously crusty but less oily to the touch.
Fractured Prune’s name will never grow on me, but its family-friendly doughnuts already have.