The Fractured Prune was started in 1976 in Ocean City, Maryland, and has been supplying hoards of sun screen-coated, fanny pack-toting board-walkers with customized Donut fare ever since. Founder Tom Parshall chose the name to honor a woman named Prunella who once owned much of the land around Ocean City, and who incidentally was the county ping-pong champion in 1895. She also had a penchant for more extreme sports, competing against men in ice skating, skiing and tennis. She was a brittle specimen and would often return from such events in a wheel chair or on crutches, earning her the moniker Fractured Prunella. Why Tom thought it would be a good idea to take this women's name, liken it to the fruit it most resembles and develop a horrifying purple mascot in its honor, I have no idea. Because seriously, could there be a worse name for a Donut shop? But evidently Tom knew what he was doing – his creation has since become a huge regional success, with 12 franchises in Maryland alone, 1 in Virginia, 1 in DC, and a sprinkling of others in places like Ohio, North Carolina and Florida.
What separates the FP from many of its peers is their customer-specific fare – if not happy with menu items patrons can instead chose their own glazes and toppings. It's kind of like the Prune is Wendy's and Dunkin and Krispy are McD's you know?
So over the weekend I was in DC visiting a slew of college/high school friends, many of whom remember me better for my "bagel consuming" tendencies rather than Donut ingestion. But happily I'm able to talk two buddies into accompanying me to the newly-opened Fractured Prune in Dupont Circle. First we've got ACB, a bearded cemetery historian who bears a striking resemblance in temperament and attire to The Dude. Then there's 4-beer Mikey, who earned this designation a few years back after a particularly hideous emetic episode and now enjoys positioning things on the global scale. While my companions only enjoy Donuts on a sporadic basis at best, both have well-groomed palates when it comes to unhealthy sources of energy and are more than helpful in assessing our order:
Now right off the bat I'll say that there's one major flaw in what the Prune has to offer, that being the dough. All of their Donuts are constructed of a simple cake dough with little flavor, save that generic "fried" taste generally reserved for homemade Donuts and Zeppole. But they make up for this lack with an eclectic array of mostly-satisfying toppings.
We start with the Strawberry Shortcake. The sweet and gooey strawberry glaze is a perfect representation of the macerated strawberries generally piled atop a shortcake, and is balanced in taste and texture by crumbled bits of graham cracker. The whole thing is dusted with an extra layer of sweetness in the form of powdered sugar. Our team of tasters is impressed.
Next up, the Morning Buzz. A flavorful mocha glaze covered in Oreo cookie crumbs makes for another fine Donut. But think about it, if you cake something in smashed Oreos, you really can't go wrong in terms of flavor.
The French Toast. I was anticipating this Donut most of all due to my love of both maple glaze and cinnamon-sugar mixtures – both of which smother the Fractured Prune's French Toast variety. All three of us agree it tastes nearly like the real thing.
Blueberry Hill. In true Fats style, the Prune invites diners to "Find Your Thrill" when munching on this one. But all we find is a mess of artificial tasting blueberry sludge and too much powdered sugar.
And for our final two, we create our own. First, the simple Raspberry Glazed echoes the artificiality found in the Blueberry Hill. We've now learned to avoid any unadulterated fruit varieties. And finally, the Honey Glazed with Graham Cracker Crumbs. A sweet, crunchy and wholly satisfying finish.
Before long ACB runs outside in the midst of a sugar fit in search of savory remediation at the Gyro shack next door. Mike and I are left to clean up the detritus of our feast, him gawking at the curvaceous Russian counter girl (sorry Suz) and me with a pant-load of dried glaze stuck to my camera lens.
The Fractured Prune Donut Shoppe
2153 P Street NW
Strawberry Shortcake -
Morning Buzz -
French Toast -
Blueberry Hill -
Raspberry Glazed -
Honey Glazed and Graham Crackers -