By 10 a.m. Friday, exhausted but cheerful workers at North Lime Coffee and Doughnuts had baked and sold about 1,800 doughnuts since opening four hours earlier.
Co-owner Joe Ross estimated that was about twice as much business as on a typical Friday.
"It's our busiest day of the year, and it gets pretty crazy," Ross said. "We typically have a line out the door later on in the morning."
Friday was National Doughnut Day, which falls on the first Friday of June each year.
North Lime chose to celebrate by selling its glazed doughnuts for 50 cents, marked down from 95 cents.
North Lime was not the only store in Lexington marking the holiday. National doughnut giant Krispy Kreme was giving each customer a doughnut for free. Another huge chain, Dunkin Donuts, gave customers a free doughnut with the purchase of a beverage. Popular family-owned Lexington bakery Spalding's was making doughnuts large enough to serve 15 people.
Even without holiday discounts, local bakeries including Donut Days, Spalding's and Magee's said they struggled to make enough doughnuts to meet the demand Friday.
"Our Southland store was completely sold out by 10:30 this morning," said Charlene Olup, who manages the Donut Days shop that recently opened on Euclid Avenue, the company's second location after Southland Drive. "I think people in Lexington like to treat themselves and they like to have fun, and that's what Doughnut Day is all about."
Most of the local bakers said they began making doughnuts about 2 or 3 a.m. in preparation for opening for the breakfast crowd at 6 or 7 a.m.
Spalding's, on Winchester Road, had three different generations of the founding family making doughnuts throughout the morning.
Workers said that some customers had ordered 14 or 15 dozen at a time and that one person was picking up a box to take on a flight to California.
Magee's Bakery, on East Main Street, sold at least 14 dozen more doughnuts than normal on Friday.
The extra sales are nice, but co-owner Greg Higgins said that his doughnut business is doing well all year long.
"Business always stays pretty steady," Higgins said. "As long as we keep putting out a good product, we don't have too much to worry about with the business."
Magee's sells its classic yeast doughnuts for 92 cents, but it costs only 12 to 13 cents to make each fried treat, Higgins said.
He emphasized that even though the ingredients might be inexpensive, the craftsmanship it takes to make good doughnuts is hard to come by.
"A lot of people don't understand the detail and skill that go into making doughnuts," he said. "When they think of baguettes and brioche, they think of artisanship, but that same talent is needed to make good doughnuts from scratch. It's a careful balance."
Some other local, from-scratch bakeries say they have had a different experience with the doughnut business.
The owner of Mondelli's Bake Shop, on Pimlico Parkway, said her store had to shift its focus away from selling doughnuts.
"We had a huge wholesale business with selling doughnuts to different gas stations and hotels and schools, but when the economy tanked that was one of the first things those businesses cut back on," owner Jessica Mondelli said. "We've started focusing more on the custom orders for cakes and pastries, and that business is doing great."
A 2012 New York Times travel story about doughnut bakeries in Kentucky described the Bluegrass State as "the paunch hanging over the Midwestern bakery belt." That statement remains true today as Lexington doughnut stores thrive with the help of loyal and hungry customers.
Though National Doughnut Day won't officially come around again until next year, some Lexington locals continue celebrating all year.
While waiting in line at Magee's for his favorite honeybun doughnut, Lexington Police officer Jeff Jackson said, "Every day is doughnut day. I'm a cop."
Annie Garau: (859) 231-1685. Twitter: @agarau6