Selling ‘100 dozen a day’ -- Fresh doughnuts available twice a week in Winchester

Posted: November 13, 2013

The Winchester Star

Frank Emswiler takes orders out of the window in the Strite’s Donuts trailer he operates two days a week near Winchester. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)
Strite’s Donuts founder Carl Strite (left) and trailer owner Frank Emswiler fill an order. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)
Emswiler cuts doughnuts in his Strite’s Donuts trailer. He sets up his trailer-based shop in Winchester every Tuesday and Friday.
A variety of fresh doughnuts is available at the Strite’s Donuts trailer.

Winchester — Making doughnuts is about as far from driving a gasoline tanker as Frank Emswiler could imagine.

But making that transition in the last year has been one of the best things to happen to him, he said.

On top of being decidedly safer — as long as he is careful of the hot cooking oil — and the freedom to be his own boss, owning Strite’s Donuts Trailer #3 has been a great move for his family, said Emswiler, 35, of Mount Jackson.

“I get more home time with my family now. My children can be in the trailer with me during the summer,” he said. “It beats being in a truck 12 hours a day by myself.”

On top of that, he gets the satisfaction of knowing he is feeding sweet treats to potentially several hundred people twice a week.

Every Tuesday and Friday, Emswiler and a few employees can be found in his trailer in the parking lot of Carl Frye’s Housing — at 3277 Valley Pike (U.S. 11), south of Winchester — serving up hundreds of doughnuts. The business opens at 7 a.m. and continues until sold out, usually between 2 and 4 p.m.

He also sells one day a week in Strasburg and during special events on weekends.

“We try to do 100 dozen a day, and we usually sell out,” he said.

As the name implies, Emswiler’s is the third trailer for Strite’s Donuts, founded eight years ago in Broadway by Carl and Miriam Strite and their daughter Amy. The couple owns the first trailer and their son Brandon Strite and a friend Caleb Buckwalter own the second.

Emswiler, who met the family when he stopped at their trailer as a truck driver and customer, opened his own trailer in April.

They didn’t sit down and plan the move, but Emswiler’s desire to start his own trailer came at a time when the Strites wanted to expand into more areas. He trained for several months on the second trailer to learn everything from the baking to the paperwork.

All three trailers use the same basic dough recipe, developed by Miriam Strite and started as something for her and Amy to take to fall festivals on weekends, said Carl Strite, 52, of Broadway. Then, they made the doughnuts at home.

“It is made on-site, fresh and right in front of people. They are a yeast-raised fresh hot doughnut,” he said.

As demand grew, so did the business. After two years, the Strites, who were dairy farmers, made the leap to obtaining their own trailer and started the tradition of traveling to different locations and making doughnuts on- site from start to finish. Later came the second and third trailers.

Emswiler has been pleased with the reception the trailer has received in Winchester. Part of it is the location on U.S. 11 giving him good traffic, but he said “it doesn’t matter where you are, if you have good, fresh, hot doughnuts, people know where you are.”

Especially for their size, he said, the doughnuts are a good price — $1.10 for regular doughnuts, $1.25 for filled and $11 for a dozen. Doughnut holes are $2.50 for a pack of about 14 to 15.

“I think it is a good value. If you look at them against prepackaged doughnuts in stores, these are 33/4-inch doughnuts,” he said. “Most popular doughnuts don’t come that big, and these are fresh.”

The menu for the trailer has five basic flavors — glazed, cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar, blueberry and chocolate-dipped, Strite said. With the exception of the blueberry, all of the doughnuts use the same recipe and have a topping or filling added after they are cooked.

The blueberry and other special seasonal flavors are made separately and have ingredients blended into the basic dough mixture, he said.

The dough is mixed on-site early in the morning and then left to rise for about an hour in a heated compartment, Strite said. The owners are keeping the recipe to themselves.

The dough is rolled out and cut using a rolling doughnut cutter in the standard round or a rectangular bar shape, he said. It is then put in a proofer to make it fluffy for frying. “It has to happen. We could not fry a yeast raised doughnut without the proofing.”

From the proofer, the doughnuts go into the fryer, where they are cooked in soybean oil heated to 375 degrees. They don’t use peanut oil because so many people have nut allergies.

About 90 seconds on each side produces a thick, dense doughnut ready to be glazed, dipped, coated or filled, he said. “It takes 11/2hours from when we start mixing to a finished doughnut.”

The biggest seller continues to be the glazed, “a classic standard doughnut,” Strite said.

However, when a new seasonal doughnut is introduced, it is usually popular, Emswiler added.

One of the hottest items now is the pumpkin spice doughnuts, which Emswiler started making in October and plans to offer through Thanksgiving. It has a decided pumpkin flavor that “gets your attention as soon as you bite into it.”

The pumpkin flavor is also available in smaller bites by way of doughnut holes, he said. The doughnut holes always are available in glazed and blueberry.

The fillings may change depending on the season. Some of the flavors have included apple, raspberry, Bavarian cream, white Holland cream, strawberry and cherry, Strite said. A peanut butter glaze is also offered.

Emswiler’s favorite doughnut is the white Holland cream-filled doughnut, which is really sweet — “I have a sweet tooth” — because of the filling and an almost “birthday cake icing.”

He usually has two filled doughnut offerings, depending on the amount of time available. He keeps the trailer’s Facebook page updated to let customers know about the specials and flavors.

Another seasonal offering is a vanilla dip fondant topped with crushed Oreos, which are made around Christmas, Strite said.

The cinnamon sugar doughnuts stand out for their decided cinnamon flavor, he said. “It is more than a hint of cinnamon.”

Similarly, the blueberry has a “pronounced blueberry flavor” and is one of the heaviest doughnuts he makes in terms of density. It is coated with the original glaze. “Nothing else would go well with it.”

Figuring out flavors that work together is important, Strite said. The apple-filled goes best with a cinnamon sugar topping, while the raspberry filled is always made with a regular granulated sugar topping.

“But we will make it however they want it done,” he said. “Some people order chocolate dipped apple or the glaze on the apple.”

Some flavors work out, while others are works in progress. A banana doughnut never really took off, and Strite recognizes the need to have other chocolate doughnut offerings.


Strite’s Donuts Trailer #3 is in the parking lot of Carl Frye’s Housing at 3277 Valley Pike (U.S. 11) from 7 a.m. until the products are sold, every Tuesday and Friday.

For more information, contact Frank Emswiler at 540-476-1654 or visit


— Contact Laura McFarland at