Meet the woman behind the pop-up doughnut shop drawing huge crowds in Flint

FLINT, Michigan — Peddler Doughnuts is a passion project by local crêpier, baker and all around foodie Melissa Hess. As a manager at Flint Crepe Company, Hess is a tour de force who at 23 has a keen sense for flavor and love for Flint. She started Peddler Doughnuts about two years ago, took a break from it, and now is back again with pop-up shops that quickly draw a crowd.

“People went crazy for them and I didn’t really expect that to happen. I really didn’t expect anything to happen from it, but I got a huge following,” Hess said. 

Each doughnut is made by Hess by hand and each offers a curious spin on traditional fried cakes. Specials like the blood orange poppyseed are one to look out for, but other signatures include lavender honey, lemon cream cheese, salted maple, chai, mocha double chocolate, lemon poppy, chocolate lavender, matcha glazed topped with pistachios, coffee caramel, cranberry streusel, just to name a few. 

“It’s an outlet for creativity, and finding unique things out in the world that I want to make and to have others enjoy,” Hess said. “For me, a crepe is a canvas a doughnut is a canvas. It is where I can pull tastes together that I want to see on that canvas. And by bringing those flavors together, you try to make magic.” 

Finding Hess is often by happenstance, perhaps during the First Friday Art Walk downtown or set up inside Flint Crepe Company, but those in the know follow her on Instagram for updates on when and where she will be next. 

“It is a special thing when you can see people you know working to make Flint better in their own way, especially when making tasteful treats,” said Symantha Foreman of Flint, a Peddler Doughnuts fan. “When we can have something unique and different that we can call our own, it’s really exciting and good for the community.”

Eventually, Hess said she would like to own her own restaurant where doughnuts would certainly be on the menu filled with creative dishes and surprising flavors. And, she sees Flint as the ideal place to set up shop.

“I think a lot of opportunity is coming to Flint and so getting my name out right now is essential, especially with a product people recognize,” Hess said. “It’s such a small area and to find people that support me and want me to succeed is a really beautiful thing.” 

Hess plans her next doughnut sale later this month. Her location announcements also always include a start time — for those who want to grab one while they are still warm. 

For more information, visit her Instagram page @peddlerdoughnuts.

Read more articles by Jake Carah.

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