By M.V. Moorhead
Eric Davis prides himself on being a creative person, and he’s also a veteran of the doughnut industry. This makes Davis just the right guy to work at one of our area’s favorite gathering spots for those mightily popular—though undeniably sinful—baked delights known commonly as dunkers.
It isn’t just the deliciousness quotient, however, that gives these entrepreneurial venues cause for joy: there’s a whole part of this particular culinary fiefdom that seems to have accrued social implications.
“With our unique way of making doughnuts,” says Davis, “we get families in here making memories.”
Davis crafts specialty and custom doughnuts, served warm, behind the counter at the local area’s only Fractured Prune bakery on Ray Road in Chandler.
It’s one of about a half-dozen or so of the Maryland-based franchise’s locations that have sprung up around the Valley over the past couple of years. The chain, which began 1976, took its odd name from an eccentric 19th century woman with the improbable, Charles-Addams-ish name Prunella Shriek, who was fond of participating in athletic events well into her 70s.
As a result she often suffered sports injuries, and became known locally as “Fractured Prunella” Ms. Shriek’s insistence on doing things her own way made her a natural namesake for this particular doughnut shop.
Fast forward to Eric Davis.
A Lodi, Calif., native who has lived in Gilbert since ‘92, Davis comes by his fondness for interactive, creative enterprises naturally.
“My dad used to own a wrecking yard business called U-Pull-It Auto Parts,” Davis recalls. “He was always there to help me be creative, and he taught me to always find a way to have your ideas help people.”
Music was his first love, and Davis played bass for years in a rock band. Later, a school assignment led him to design flyers for rock shows, in turn aiming him toward a busy career promoting musicians and bands. Overlapping this, however, Davis paid the bills for several years by working at that titan of the fried dough world, Dunkin’ Donuts.
“Time to make the donuts,” was the slogan of the Dunkin’ chain back in the ‘80s, muttered by the sleepy baker on his way to work in the wee hours of the morning, to ensure the product’s freshness and quality. The phrase eventually caught on in common usage, as a weary-but-determined declaration that it was time to get to work.
But by the time Davis was working for Dunkin’, he found the process less hands-on.
“The way they do it now,” he says, “a lot of the doughnuts are premade and frozen.”
For Davis, the Fractured Prune method is far less prefabricated.
Happily, the Prune’s specialty doughnuts respond to practically any imaginable whim, allowing customers to create their own combinations from a long list of glazes and toppings, assembled under each patron’s watchful eye.
On a recent visit, I tried the Key Lime with graham crackers and powdered sugar, along with a combo of my own devising: cherry glaze with chocolate sprinkles and mini marshmallows. My daughter had an éclair full of Bavarian cream, and a custom-assembled item of chocolate and cinnamon and caramel that I couldn’t keep straight.
We inhaled them while we chatted with Davis and, delicious as they were, we agreed that two of these potently sweet treats at a sitting might have been overambitious.
“It’s your world,” offered Davis of his role facilitating these creations. “I’m just here visiting it.”
It has, however, allowed him to observe some of the demographic side of doughnut-making.
“Adults, they know what they want,” says Davis. “Give me the chocolate, give me the cinnamon, whatever. Anyone under the age of, I’d say, 12, they’ll have the M&Ms, marshmallows and rainbow sprinkles. The younger the audience, the more color they want.”
Considering the mini marshmallows all over my bright cherry glaze, this makes me feel a little childish.
Fractured Prune is at 4910 W. Ray Road in Chandler.
Call 480-820-5438 for details.