SOUTHINGTON — When Cindy Miller bit into the first apple fritter Friday, cheers erupted from the other volunteers and those gathered in line.
Miller has this coveted honor because her mother created the recipe that now inspires thousands to stand in line, sometimes for almost an hour, at the Zion Lutheran Church’s apple fritter booth every fall.
The recipe “has not changed one bit,” Miller said, adding the process has become more “sophisticated” to accommodate the increased volume.
Parishioners voted 50 years ago to use her mother’s recipe for the fritters sold at the festival.
Miller said everyone liked the quality, so it has never been changed.
But “liked” may be an understatement, since the fritters took off immediately.
“We had to go out and purchase additional flour the first year,” she said. “They were popular from the get-go.”
From that first 50 pounds of dry mix to the 9 tons used now, the fritters gained and retained popularity over five decades.
The church has participated in the Apple Harvest Festival for 50 years, just shy of the festival’s 51-year run.
It’s usually the busiest food tent, and the only one to stay open the week between both festival weekends.
“It’s quite exciting celebrating 50 years, I love it,” said Miller.The line
By the corner of Route 10 and Riccio Way, the booth usually boasts a line wrapping around the corner, down Route 10. Because the volunteers have streamlined operations, they say the longest wait is usually about 45 minutes.
“There are thousands that come through this line,” Miller said. “We appreciate their patronage and waiting in line.”
An ambitious young group waited nearly 90 minutes so they could be first in line. Leticia Debarros, of Southington, waited with about five younger children, including Ryan Barnes, 12, and Natalia Ospino, 12, both of Southington.
The group said they were determined to be first since the wait can get really long. They cited “good taste” as the reason they love the fritters so much.
A little farther back in line were SoVita Chiropractic co-workers Jessica Richards, Jen Boll, and Julia Ward, who were working a vendor booth offering free chair massages and posture screenings.
The trio bought four dozen apple fritters and got an extra one when volunteers found out it was Richards’ first time trying them.
“My very first apple fritter — it was amazing, warm, juicy. It was so delicious,” she said after the first couple of bites.
The three waited in line for about 45 minutes, but Boll said “we would’ve waited all day if we had to.”
The apple fritter booth will be open through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday from an undetermined start time, to 5 p.m.