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Fastnachts bring in dough

March 01, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - Huddled against the cold and watching passing cars, dozens of people gathered Tuesday in an alley near Maryland Avenue, eager for their fix.

With cash in hand, in the brilliant sunlight of the last day of February, they waited for a treat too indulgent for spring's start.

"Ten dollars a dozen," one woman called as she hurried away, her arms full of brown bags.

Outside Krumpe's Do-nuts, the last day before the start of a season of sacrifice and fasting was marked by the rich aroma of sugar and dough. Shrove Tuesday - Mardi Gras to partiers in New Orleans - brought out long lines for fastnachts.

"Oh my land's yes, they are delicious," Anna Scott of Hagerstown said as she waited to buy the special square glazed donuts.

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Traditionally made with the household's last shortening and flour, fastnachts are a Pennsylvania Dutch treat that usher in the lean times of Lent, donut shop co-owner Fred Krumpe said. The shop sells fastnachts on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of a 40-day pre-Easter period of fasting and penitence for Christians.

For some customers, the donuts would be even better all year.

"They should make 'em more often than two days a year," said 77-year-old Glenn Smith, who lives south of Hagerstown.

Waiting at the end of the line next to Scott, Smith said he planned to buy a dozen fastnachts. While one woman tried to sell hers for $10, the price inside the shop was $5 for 12.

Robert Gray, a 77-year-old Halfway man who said he has been eating the donuts for about 50 years, bought five dozen.

He said he planned to share them with friends.

"Knowing myself and some other folks, I'd say they'd be gone by 5 o'clock this evening," he said, checking his watch before acknowledging he was only joking.

Jane Krumpe, who has been married to Fred since 1977, said she and the shop's other donut makers had been working nearly nonstop to satisfy customer demand.

"Well, this morning, we came in at 11. Yesterday, we were here at 6, and we left at 5 o'clock this morning," she said.

The last two days provided little rest for the weary.

"We made 2,800 last night. Twenty-eight-hundred dozen. We'll probably make - what do you say, about half that - about half that tonight," said Rudy Krumpe, who owns the shop with his brother.

The Krumpes said they did not mind the hours.

"It's fun, actually, until the 23rd hour out of a 24-hour day, it's a lot of fun," Rudy Krumpe said.

For the owners and employees, the pace is quick and continuous, Fred Krumpe said. His hands in constant motion as he separated and dealt out squares of raw dough, Krumpe said he does not tire of the fastnachts.

"We'll sleep tomorrow," he said.

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