A gallon of gas cost 35 cents in 1969. That same year, a pound of Chiquita bananas was selling for 12 cents, a pound of butter cost 77 cents and a pound of ground chuck was 89 cents. That same year, a new doughnut shop, Donut King, opened at 3913 Chouteau Trafficway.
I'm thinking that a dozen doughnuts probably cost about 69 cents in 1969, but what do I know? I wasn't buying doughnuts back then. I was just a bratty kid eating them. Still, a 69-cent doughnut sounds like a pretty good deal in the current economy, and that's what the iconic Donut King shop — celebrating the grand opening of its new location at 2320 Armour Road — will be doing all day tomorrow: Friday, October 14, from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.
"We're selling all the doughnuts, from glazed yeast to long johns, for 69 cents," says co-owner John Cone, who purchased the original Donut King in 1996 so that he could run a business with his wife, Lauren. The two young entrepreneurs met a few years earlier, working at McDonald's. Oh, a trivia note: in 1969, a McDonald's hamburger cost 18 cents.
When Chouteau Trafficway was widened, the Cones — along with partners Jeff and Kristen Linder — moved the business this past April to 2320 Armour Road.
The move was a good one for the 42-year-old business. Cone says traffic has increased now that the doughnut shop is closer to Cerner — and the casinos.
Cone says Donut King plans to be making doughnuts all day and into the night on Friday, so none of the popular varieties, including the current seasonal pastry, the best-selling pumpkin doughnut, will be in stock. Cone is the in-house idea man for Donut King. He introduced the shop's pumpkin doughnut several years ago and concocted the eggnog-doughnut batter for the seasonal treat that begins being sold after Thanksgiving, when pumpkin-doughnut season ends.
Not all of John Cone's creations have worked out: "I've never been able to make a great Coca-Cola-flavored doughnut," he says. "And a holiday candy-cane doughnut didn't work out because the sharp pieces of candy cut into people's mouths. A pina-colada doughnut sounded great, but no one bought it."
Cone's best-selling innovation has been his peanut-butter doughnut, which is now a regular offering at the store every third day. The new Donut King has expanded its repertoire. Kristen Linder, Cone's sister-in-law, oversees the shop's new selection of fresh iced cupcakes and muffins.
The new pastries are selling well, Cone says, but Donut King's bread-and-butter business comes from the same products that were best-sellers in 1969: glazed doughnuts and filled long johns.