Why Wall Drug frosted cake doughnuts became a South Dakota food favorite – Sioux Falls Argus Leader

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This article is about one of 18 South Dakota food favorites.

Wall Drug doughnuts: Frosted cake doughnuts handmade at Wall Drug. The original recipe had a cinnamon flavor, but it’s since evolved into a light lemon cake doughnuts with Sprite. 

Vickie Willuweit once overnight shipped Wall Drug doughnuts to a couple in California as part of a surprise cake for their wedding. 

The cake included 75 doughnuts and traveled 1,401 miles “from Wall Drug to you,” a sign read on top of the cake. 

The story is a testament to how important Wall Drug doughnuts are to South Dakotans. Willuweit said the groom in the wedding was originally from South Dakota. 

“Wall Drug is such a part of South Dakota and the doughnut’s the icon of Wall Drug,” she said. “I can’t imagine South Dakota without Wall Drug.” 

But the famous doughnut didn’t originate in Wall. The original recipe is from a bakery in San Bernadino, California. 

According to Rick Hustead, owner of Wall Drug, his grandparents were visiting family in the mid-’50s when they stopped in a bakery in San Bernadino. His grandfather, who founded Wall Drug, was so impressed with the recipe that he asked the man for the recipe and offered to send his son, Hustead’s father, out to California to learn how to make the doughnuts. 

“It was a gentleman’s agreement,” Hustead said. “They shook hands.” 

Once Hustead’s father learned the recipe after a week, the Hustead family ordered the equipment and ingredients needed to make the Wall Drug doughnuts. Eventually, the doughnuts’ reputation grew so much that it became one and the same with Wall Drug. 

When Hustead joined the family business about 39 years ago, the first thing he learned how to do was make the Wall Drug doughnuts. Now, 12 people are on staff making doughnuts each day to meet demand, which is about 348,000 doughnuts a year. 

“We advertise on the highway that we give free coffee and a doughnut to U.S. military veterans,” Hustead said. “We advertise that and we can never, ever run out of doughnuts. We never do.” 

Willuweit grew up in Wall and remembers getting drugstore doughnuts for treats as a child. While every part of South Dakota has a particular food in the state it’s known for — chislic in southeast South Dakota and kuchen in German-populated areas — Wall Drug doughnuts represent part of western South Dakota, she said. 

“I’ve always loved making the drugstore doughnuts because they’re an icon,” she said. “It’s just been part of my home.” 

The top 18 South Dakota foods

  • Bison
  • Chili and Cinnamon/Caramel Rolls
  • Chislic
  • Cookies ‘n Cream Ice Cream
  • Gabubu Bread
  • Indian Tacos
  • Kolache
  • Kuchen
  • Pheasant
  • Pickle Beer
  • Red Beer
  • Rushmore Mountain Taffy
  • Tiger Meat
  • Wall Drug Doughnuts
  • Wall Drug Water
  • Walleye
  • Wasna
  • Wojapi

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