As much as I like novelty and variety, there is something comforting about ritual and tradition. For example, when one of my college buddies called for a “Foster’s Run,” I always knew the drive to our favorite donut place would involve a familiar, comforting liturgy, like:

• When we pass by the Bob’s Big Boy restaurant, one of us would pat another person on the head and say, “That’s a big boy!”
• When we pass by the “Ha Penny Inn,” someone would say, “What’s Ha Penning?”
• When we pass by the sloping wall of particular road tunnel, one of us would say, “Wouldn’t it be fun to drive up that wall?”

I don’t know how these silly lines became a ritual for us, but a huge part of the fun was spotting the old familiar landmarks and being the first to say each line, much like enthusiasts blurting out dialogue while watching Rocky Horror Picture Show. If we could create a new, pithy line that sticks, that would, of course, be even more bonus points and bragging rights.

So the first part of a Foster’s Run is the traditional banter. The second part is the donuts themselves – perhaps the best in the world, imho. As college students, of course, our youthful metabolisms allow us to eat as many donuts as we can without egregious penalty. My tradition is to order three: an old-fashioned cake donut, a razed chocolate-glazed donut, and finally one of the special fruit donuts. The latter category are what make Foster’s Donuts a wow place: puffy, fresh, glazed donuts, split in half and stuffed with either fresh strawberries or fresh peaches in sugary syrup.

Can I imagine doing such a donut run now? I think not. But I’m grateful that this signature, Southern California donut shop, with its name changed to Donut Man, is still in the same spot, serving the same amazing culinary treats. The landmarks may have changed, the sugar lives on, as per tradition. What’s your Foster’s Run?

(As life gets too crazy, when the amount of change seems too fast and overwhelming to cope with, we need rituals and traditions to tether us to reality. It could be daily meditation, or a morning run, or even a cup of tea made just right. What’s your ritual? What rituals do you share with others?)