In the area around Alexandria, Kentucky, street names like Spillman, Shaw, and Enzweiler, bear the last names of early settlers whose descendants still live in the area. Many of them came from Virginia to claim the lands to which they were entitled because of their service during the Revolutionary War. The original 1840s Campbell County courthouse is still standing, but now houses the historical society. The downtown looks very similar to what it looked like around the time of the Civil War. If you’ve lived in the area for more than three generations, you’re most probably related to the majority of people in town. Recently, a scene from the movie Carol was filmed at their local diner, Spare Time.
So, when Marion Reinhardt and his wife, Mary Kramer opened up a bakery called Country Cousins on Main Street in Alexandria, in 1968, it was no joke. Almost everybody in Alexandria are cousins. I am a country cousin, in fact. My ancestors dug out and laid the roads through Alexandria and Carthage Kentucky, and farmed the sometimes steep, but rolling hills along the Ohio River.
It was fifty years ago today (Valentine’s Day) that the Reinhardts, who met growing up on adjoining farms in Grant’s Lick, Kentucky, a farming community just south along the river from Alexandria, opened the bakery. After a first date at the Alexandria Fair, they married and settled into farm life. But, after 27 years of milking cows, tending chickens, and hauling hay, they had to find an easier way to make a living. Mary had been involved in baking for church bazaars to earn money for her two sons’ – Marc and Mike – school books. People complimented her on her baking and said she should open a bakery.
So, when a friend offered them three months free rent, they jumped on the opportunity. None of them thought the bakery would survive, but due to Mary’s hard work and hard line management they did. Mary became the first female president of the Greater Cincinnati Baker’s Association in 1980.
Country Cousin’s City Glazed, a tongue-in-cheek nod to our region’s City Chicken.
I am a fan of the methodology they use for donuts. Instead of cutting donuts in a round shape, they use octagonal cutters, so there is no waste between donuts. They also use the donut holes to make what they call “City Glazed” – a nod to our region’s City Chicken. Like city chicken, they take the donut hole cubes and skewer them on a stick, press them down, fry them, resulting in a bear claw like donut. They use the octagonal donuts to make knots and twists, and then use square forms for the jelly filled donuts, and their long johns, again saving on wasted dough. They are not afraid to use sprinkles or jimmies. In fact, I know of no other bakery in Greater Cincinnati who uses so many sprinkles for their donuts. They will sprinkle jimmies of your school colors on iced or glazed for a fundraiser. They’re also known for their coconut yeast roll, their decorated cakes, and coffee cakes.
I’ve stopped by there almost every time I visit the Campbell County Historical Society across the street. I’m a particular fan of their maple glazed, cream filled long johns, which I like to dunk in their fresh made coffee.
Their donut making video on YouTube has attracted so much buzz that two men from Slovakia came to the bakery to learn their techniques from owner Michael, so they could open a Country Cousins bakery in their hometown.
Do yourself a favor, the next time you’re in Alexandria – get a donut and coffee from Country Cousins Bakery!