Ocean County Doughnut Shop Still Going Strong After 67 Years

OB-CO’s Donuts in Toms River sells out daily. Rick Browner, who owns the shop with his wife, Betty, discusses its history and how business is thriving despite the pandemic.

OB-CO's Donuts

An assortment of doughnuts from OB-CO’s Donuts in Toms River. Photo by Maggie Leenas

Betty Browner worked in a Jersey Shore doughnut shop for a decade, and when it was time for the business to change hands, she didn’t hesitate to jump on the opportunity. Betty and her husband, Rick, have been running OB-CO’s Donuts in Toms River for the past 11 years, carrying on a tradition that started in 1953.

With a homemade recipe passed down for generations, this small, red bungalow dishes out hundreds of doughnuts every day. Jersey Shore visitors and locals alike lineup to get their hands on these delicious treasures, starting at 5am. And you better get there bright and early—the doughnut shack sells out daily.

We caught up with Rick Browner to ask about the longstanding business, its confidential recipe, and the history behind its unique name.

TH: What made you interested in buying the doughnut shop?
RB: Betty worked there for almost 10 years. The husband of a good friend of hers owned it prior to her buying it, and she worked there on weekends for quite a while, I guess it was eight, nine years. Then it came time that they were going to sell it and she took an interest in wanting to buy it. Of course the two original owners have passed, but my wife is still in touch with one daughter that lives in Florida. I believe she’s in her late 70s-80s.

TH: What’s the history surrounding the name “OB-CO’s”?
RB: There were two gentlemen that started it. The last names were O’Brien and the other was Colfer. It was a nickname. They turned their summer bungalow into a doughnut shop. It used to be a house, with a living room, a bathroom, and they added the front porch and the back porch to open in 1953.

TH: What does a typical day look like at OB-CO’s, being that you open at 5am?
RB: On a typical day we’d come in at midnight and set the fryers up to throw the dough on. From start to finish, the dough takes about an hour. They wait for it to rise, then they start cutting, it goes into a proof box then it gets fried off.

With 36 different flavors, each doughnut is done differently, and the girls come in anywhere from 3:30am to 4am to do the prepping. Some doughnuts get dipped, some doughnuts get glazed, some get filled. There’s a process. It’s just like an assembly line.

TH: Out of the 36 different flavors, do you have a best seller?
RB: Chocolate frosted, jelly, cream, your croissants, they’re all top sellers. The signature doughnut there is the sugar-raised—that is the staple doughnut. It’s an old recipe, and it’s a big oval doughnut, stretched by hand, with cinnamon sugar on top.

TH: The recipes date back to the 1950s. Do you still use the same ones?
RB: When (my wife) took it over they had 15 to 18 different flavors and she doubled that using the same recipes, just with new flavors. There’s 36 now. She had to buy the recipe when she got OB-CO’s.

TH: So, it’s more like a secret recipe? No chance of sharing it?
RB: It’s like Coca-Cola, you know?

TH: Do you have any seasonal doughnuts coming to the menu soon?
RB: For fall, we’ll bring in pumpkin doughnuts with cream cheese and French crullers. In springtime we’ll do birthday doughnuts with funfetti and buttercream and blueberry squares until the end of summer. On Valentine’s Day in February we do red velvet.

TH: How many doughnuts do you typically make a day?
RB: A lot. August is the busiest month and the weekends are pretty busy. It’s all according to the weather, so, in the wintertime, if the weather looks like it’s not gonna be good then we’ll back off on stuff. We usually sell out between 12 and 12:30 every day. The girls are usually out of here no later than 1:00pm.

OB-CO’s Donuts in Toms River. Photo by Maggie Leenas

TH: You’re open 365 days a year. How has the business handled the pandemic?
RB: The first two weeks my wife took a hit because she lost a lot of wholesale accounts. A lot of them were seniors so their club houses were closed up. But after a few weeks, with the kids out of school, it was like an early summer. So it’s been pretty busy!

TH: What kind of catering do you do?
RB: We do homeowners association meetings, Italian American clubs, office meetings in the morning… a lot of Home Depot lately, and Lowe’s, for their morning meetings. They pick their kinds and we bring platters of doughnuts.

There’s also made-to-order doughnuts. We do a lot of birthday parties like the number six or letters like “Happy Birthday Dad.” On Valentine’s Day we do hearts and for St. Patty’s we do leprechaun hats.

TH: Do you have a favorite doughnut from OB-CO’s?
RB: It’s kind of plain but I like the plain knots. It’s a unique kind of dough called a hand cut dough. Each individual doughnut is made by hand and it’s twisted into a shape. It’s crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.

OB-CO’s Donuts operates 365 days a year, opening at 5am until sold out. OB-CO’s Donuts, 547 Fischer Boulevard, Toms River. Call 732-270-3882 to order ahead. Delivery available, 3 dozen order minimum, cash only.

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