Zebra Donuts at Royal Bake Shop in Centerville, South Dakota, are a local phenomenon. When we asked the nice ladies working the day of our visit how a bakery in such a small town not only survives, but thrives, they joyfully rattled off examples of their popularity. On the previous day, the Turner County Fair bought 48 dozen of the Zebras, sold them all and ordered 48 dozen more. They typically make 300 Zebras on weekdays, 1000 on Saturdays, and are still sold out by mid-morning. We were there early on a Saturday and the one woman said with a knowing smile, “It’s about to get crazy in here!”
What makes Zebra Donuts special? They are a puffy, glazed yeast donut with a thick band of chocolate in the middle. It is topped off with fudgy chocolate icing. There is a freshness that only comes from using the best ingredients, with no oily aftertaste you often get after eating inferior donuts. One bite and we were hooked. Royal Bake Shop is so proud and protective of the Zebra that they have it trademarked.
Everything else we tried was equally dazzling. Custard Bismarks are pillowy soft, have a sprinkling of powdered sugar and are filled with sweet Boston cream. The cinnamon twist has a thin layer of glaze and easily pulls apart for eating on the go. And don’t miss the cinnamon roll: feather-light, gooey, and still warm from the oven.
Royal Bake Shop offers free coffee to its customers.