A bitter 'sweet' end to Lehighton's Persian doughnut
MICHAEL A. HEERY/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Cake artist Erica Heery, left, of La Mia Torta Bakery presents a special cake to Pam Gothard, center, and Bill "Andy" Gothard, right, on the occasion of the recent "Persian Doughnut Retirement Party." The large custom cake looked and tasted like a Persian doughnut.
Anyone who is from or who is familiar with the Lehighton area probably knows what a "Persian" is a doughnut made famous years ago by Young's Bakery.
With the closing of Lehighton Bakery, the storied doughnut is now a thing of the past but not before one last "hurrah."
A "Persian Doughnut Retirement Party" was recently celebrated at Lehighton Bakery. Originally scheduled for only one day, the event was extended to two days when over 7,000 Persians were preordered. Customers lined up sometimes out the door to pick up their doughnuts that many family members and friends of the Gothards, who own the bakery, helped to make.
"It was a good run and we'll miss it," said Pam Gothard. "But it's time to move on. All things must come to an end."
Gothard and her husband, Bill "Andy," and his family have owned the bakery for the past 10 years.
At the retirement party, the Gothards were presented with a special cake designed by cake artist Erica Heery of La Mia Torta Bakery. The large custom cake looked and tasted like a Persian doughnut.
The Persian is a cinnamon bun-like pastry covered with a vanilla or chocolate icing topped off with a dollop of cherry strawberry glaze. Lehighton's "version of the Persian" was invented by "Pap" Young.
The history of the Persian is a little cloudy. While Young's Bakery certainly popularized the pastry in the Lehighton area, a variation of the doughnut is said to have originated in the city of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. This Persian is topped with a pink icing made of either raspberries or strawberries.
Another variation is well known in Wisconsin. This Persian typically has white icing and toppings such as crushed peanuts or coconut.
According to traditional lore, the Persian doughnut was named for World War I United States General John "Blackjack" Pershing thus also being referred to as the "Pershing" doughnut. Over the years, it has become popular for fundraising for schools, churches and other organizations.
Young's Bakery was located at the corner of Fourth and Mahoning streets in Lehighton now the home of Verona Pizza House. Following a near 50-year run, the family bakery turned off its ovens for the last time on Nov. 22, 1995.
Rich Schnell a cousin of the Gothards worked for Young's Bakery. After the bakery closed, the Persian found its way to Schnell's Confections. When that business outgrew its location, Lehighton Bakery became the "home" of the storied doughnut.
"We want to thank our customers for their patronage for the past 10 years. We will miss them greatly," concluded Gothard.