We all have memories – fond or tragic – from our grade school cafeterias. Who doesn’t remember the steamed rectangular sausage pizzas, or the steamed tator tots from the 80s, when steaming seamed to be preferred method of cooking. If you were in the school systems in southwest Ohio after 1990, there’s another popular menu item you remember.
A meeting with Dayton Public School nutritionists taught me about this school menu item that now has a cult following. It’s so popular it’s available online and in some retail grocers, and it has its own Facebook page. It’s called the Super Donut.
The Super Donut is a brown donut that when its package is opened, smells like kid vitamins. It’s reheated from frozen stage, and served in lunchrooms warm, without any glaze or powdered sugar. The nut is apparently a warm gooey treat that becomes addictive and has become ingrained in many hearts and stomachs of tens of thousands of public school graduates.
This tasty treat was created in 1990, along with the Super Bun, by former pro football star Franco Harris of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Each 250 calorie Super Donut packs in 14 vitamins and minerals and 7 grams of protein into each nut. It uses a trademarked fortifier called NutriDough, that contains the 15 vitamins and minerals. The recipe was developed with research assistance from Penn State staff. They were apparently the first products of their kind approved by the USDA as a fruit/grain component for the school breakfast program. Let’s be honest, they’re still a fatty, deep fried, sugar bomb, but one fortified with vitamins and protein.
Super Bakery founder and former Pittsburgh Steelers star, Franco Harris.
Franco’s company is Super Bakery Inc., whose mission is to be the Leader in Bakery Nutrition. They aim to bring healthier products to the public, while promoting a lifestyle of wellness – a balance of work, play, family, diet and exercise. Starting as a regional foodservice company, selling only to schools in a cluster of mid-western states, they’re is now a national entity. Giant Eagle around Pittsburgh, and Jewels in Chicago, both offer the Super Donut and Super Bun. They’re even available in some convenience stores like 7-Eleven and some Walmarts.
Franco graduated from Penn State in their hotel , hospitality and food program. He didn’t have any specific plans after retirement, and the transition for most players from football to life after football, can be daunting. So he started Super Bakery. He thought kids deserved a nutritious donut with no artificial flavors, preservatives, or colors, and one packed with vitamins and protein.
Boxes of the Donuts have current MVP stars on the outside, and a portion of the proceeds goes to their respective charities. Currently the featured MVPs are Max Starks of Pittsburgh and Roberta Garza of Chicago. So the proceeds go to either the Max Starks Foundation or the Los Amigos de Roberto.
A box of Super Donuts featuring Jack Wilson.
Kids and lunch ladies alike are happy to be able to obtain these through their retail grocer. I am too old to know the Super Donut, but I certainly understand association with a childhood favorite lunch item. I say bring back the rectangle pizzas of my childhood!