Easy. Because I'd never heard of Gibson's.
Yup. I've lived the last 13+ years of my life in the Memphis area and had never once known to venture to Poplar/Mt Moriah to sample the wonder that is Gibson's Donuts.
Last Friday morning, Boo Bear and I set out to remedy the situation. Gibson's is located in East Memphis, directly next door to a liquor store and across the street from a tobacco shop. I'm thinking any family-friendly spot that's managed to stay in business despite being surrounded by less-than-family-friendly establishments has to be awesome, no?
The first thing I noticed upon entering was the heavenly aroma that filled my nostrils. Good gravy, this is gonna be good. The second thing I noticed was the large boys' club posted up immediately to my right.
You know what I'm talking about when I say "boys' club," right? A group of 6-10 retirees that meets up at the same joint, same table, same time, every day to eat and socialize and offer running commentary on everyone that enters/exits the premises. In the South, it's a sure sign that the place you're about to eat is pretty amazing.
The chairman of the boys' club (a kind, if somewhat piratey-looking gentleman), greeted Boo Bear with an enthusiastic "what's up, young buck?," promptly sending my son into hysterics. It wasn't the guy's fault mind you--he was just trying to be friendly--but his voice did have a certain "Argggg, matey" quality that probably just caught Boo Bear off-guard.
It was during this stressful moment--trying to calm my panicked child while searching for my wallet to pay for the donuts--that for the first time in my three-plus years as a mother, a restaurant staff member actually ventured to be kind to my having-a-meltdown child. A nice young man working behind the counter said "Aw, poor guy," grabbed two plain donut holes from the case, plopped them in a bag, and said "Here ya go buddy, on the house!"
Wow. Just...wow. Actual compassion, true Southern hospitality, the moment I needed it most. It was right then and there that I knew I'd be returning to Gibson's, regardless of what the donuts tasted like. Any place with a staff that kind and attentive to their customers--no matter their age--deserves my family's business.
Boo Bear had calmed down by the time we found our way to a back table. I opened our bag and took a moment to marvel at the goodness we were about to consume.
Left: blueberry cake donut; right: maple-bacon donut.
Boo Bear decided it was time to stop marveling.
Boo Bear's our first selection (blueberry) in half.
I let him go to town on one half (it was gone in about five Boo Bear-sized bites) while I slowly savored the other half. It was (until about two minutes later) truly the single best donut I'd ever eaten in my entire life. I'm talkin' warm out of the oven and positively bursting with fresh blueberry flavor. No wonder people make such a fuss over them!
Boo Bear was pretty full by this point so he didn't feel like getting in on the action as much, but I ripped myself another half and got going.
Oh. My. Lanta. Y'all, it was incredible. Of the two donuts I chose, this was the one I assumed would be more gimmicky than delicious. ("Hey look, we put bacon on it!") But seriously, I took one bite and almost had to stop chewing to collect myself. Because it tasted exactly--exactly--like Saturday mornings when you dip a piece of thick-cut hickory bacon into a puddle of pancake syrup and pop it into your mouth. This wasn't a regular, run-on-the-mill maple glaze--you could actually taste the butter and pancake flavors coming through. And the bacon wasn't Bac~Os, either--it was real, fried-then-crumbled, thick-cut hickory bacon. Absolutely, positively, mouth-wateringly scrumptious.
As Boo Bear and I enjoyed our donuts, I also really enjoyed watching the comings and goings of others. More than one customer was greeted by name upon entering. Other moms were there with their kids enjoying a Friday morning breakfast treat. The boys' club continued holding court. The Memphis memorabilia proudly flanked the walls.
Delicious. Homey. A genuine, true Southern bakery that more than lives up to the hype. I once was blind, but now I see. Gibson's Donuts, j'adore.
Bottom Line: Would I eat there again? Yes. In a heartbeat. I'm already plotting my return trip, like, tomorrow. (Seriously, who wants to come with?)
760 Mt Moriah Rd
Memphis, TN 38117