Curious events have unfolded at legendary Tucson bakery Le Cave's.
Records show that owners Rudy Molina Sr. and Rudy Molina Jr. filed a patent application for the composition and method of preparing the bakery's signature doughnuts in December 2009.
The patent is on track to be granted within a month or so.
About a month ago the younger Molina, who now runs the business, on South Sixth Avenue just south of 22nd Street, stopped putting holes in the center of the traditionally ring-shaped pastries.
Prices for the puffs of sugary goodness have gone up since the switch from $7.99 to $8.99 per dozen for the glazed versions.
Molina is coy about the decision to patent the doughnut's recipe and what he plans to do after it is granted.
"To formulate the recipe and have it distributed to where supermarkets can buy it, other doughnut chains can buy it, mom-and-pop shops can buy it as a bagged recipe … that's an option that's close to becoming very realistic," he said. "It's something I've been working on for about a year now."
He said the patent and the holeless doughnuts are unrelated occurrences and that the new appearance of the glazed and chocolate glazed doughnuts was meant to shake things up at the bakery.
"We're trying to create a personality for our doughnuts where if you were to see them sitting on a table, or anywhere they may be, people say, 'I know what those are. Those are Le Cave's doughnuts,'" Molina said.
But the filled hole has left a void in some doughnut lovers' hearts, such as retired teacher Chris Beeler, who has been loyal to Le Cave's for three years.
When Beeler and her husband went to pick up a dozen doughnuts earlier this week, she was shocked when she opened the box in the car.
"I thought they made a mistake," she said. "I went inside and asked, 'Where are the holes in my doughnuts?' "
She says Molina explained the new look, but she still wasn't sold.
"I said, 'I don't care, that hole is what makes 'em fluff up in the middle,' " Beeler said. "The doughnuts kind of drop in the middle."
Beeler, who says Le Cave's doughnuts were the only thing her cat, Weebers, would eat toward the end of her life, now says she won't buy the treats until things go back to normal.
"I'm boycotting the doughnuts," she said. "I'm not going back until there's a change, or unless I can special-order them with the holes."
Other customers, like Dick Barber, 69, who's been going to Le Cave's since he was a child - when his family would pick up doughnuts on Sundays after church - said the change doesn't bother him.
"They're the only doughnuts worth eating, in my opinion," he said. "None of the rest are any good. They've got it figured out."
Molina said he's received only a few complaints about the missing holes.
He said the majority of customers continue to patronize the 76-year-old bakery that the Molinas have owned since 1981.
"I thought they made a mistake. I went inside and asked, 'Where are the holes in my doughnuts?' "
Chris Beeler, retired teacher and Le Cave's customer
Contact Veronica Cruz at email@example.com or 573-4203.