This is an archived article that was published on in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

It's no secret, Utahns love deep-fried dough, especially when it is hot from bubbling oil and slathered with whipped honey-butter. But who - and why - dubbed it a scone?

"That's what we've always called them," said Connie Pope, owner of the 7-11 Ranch Restaurant in Vernal, where guests get a homemade scone with every meal and families and

businesses buy them by the dozens.

The Ranch Restaurant, which Pope's father opened in 1933, sells about 600 scones a day. Pope says she can't remember when the deep-fried treats were not on the menu.

"But I don't exactly know how they got their name," she said.

The Utah scone bears no resemblance to the European scone that is served with high tea in England, Scotland and Ireland. In those countries, a scone is a small, triangular-shaped biscuit that is baked and then spread with thickened cream (called clotted cream) and preserves. It is named after the Scottish town of Scone, where medieval kings were crowned.

European transplants such as Loraine White usually are perplexed when they have their first close encounter with a hulking Utah scone.

White said it happened to her during an early morning reading at a library. The notice for the event said there would be scones available.

"They came out with these strange things," said White, manager of Salt Lake City's London Market. "Whatever they were passing around was weird."

Most people born and raised in Utah remain blissfully unaware that scones in the rest of the world do not arrive hot, greasy, golden brown and sometimes the size of a Frisbee.

"I don't think most Utahns know what an English scone is," said Vickie Warner, owner of the Sconecutter restaurant chain, with 11 locations, all in Utah.

Warner estimates that her company makes 10,000 deep-fried scones a day, most of which are used to make sandwiches.

Does she know the origins of the Utah scone moniker?

"I'm not sure where the history comes from," said Warner. "They're served in a lot of places, especially in the West."

It's true. Utah scones are almost identical to sopaipillas, said to have originated 300 years ago in what is now Albuquerque, N.M. When translated from Spanish, sopa or suppa refers to bread soaked in oil.

Navajo fry bread is another familiar name, used most often in Arizona.

Fry bread is considered a food of "intertribal unity" and is made at all American Indian powwows, Linda Stradley wrote in her cookbook I'll Have What They're Having: Legendary Local Cuisine (Threeforks Press, $18.95).

But it is a recent addition to American Indian cuisine. Fry bread originated in 1860 when about 8,000 Navajos were driven from their land by U.S. troops and sent to a reservation in Fort Sumner, N.M. The government provided the tribe with only limited food staples, including white flour and lard.

The Navajo women made the best of what they had been given, ultimately creating fry bread, wrote Stradley.

Through the years, the bread became the foundation of a second dish called Navajo or Indian tacos. The fried bread is topped with ground meat or beans, chopped lettuce, tomatoes, cheese and green chilies.

To many residents of Arizona, Indian tacos are considered the state dish and have become popular at summer fairs and festivals in surrounding states, including Utah.

Western pioneers - including the Mormons who came to Utah - also fried bread dough, often calling their creation "dough gods." On bread baking day, a pioneer woman might pinch off some of the dough from her rising bread, drop it into hot grease and produce a hot hearty lunch for her family with relatively little effort.

We were certain the historians with Daughters of the Utah Pioneers would know how - and when - fried bread came to be called scones. But even they were stumped.

The Tribune called James Marshall, owner of Johanna's Kitchen in Sandy where 2,000 to 3,000 scones are served each week, to see if he knew the origins of the scone label.

"I have no clue," he said. "I grew up in New York and we called it fried dough."

He referred us to restaurant founder Johanna Nielsen.

"I never investigated that," said Nielsen. "I just know they had a great taste and people loved them."

And maybe that's all we need to know.


Contact Kathy Stephenson at or 801-257-8612. Send comments to

Navajo fry bread

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup instant nonfat dry milk

1/4 teaspoon salt

Warm water

Vegetable oil, for frying

Honey, butter and/or powdered sugar

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, dry milk and salt. Slowly add enough warm water to form a workable dough. (Start by adding 1 cup water, then add more if needed.) Knead until smooth and slightly sticky. Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

After it rests, divide the dough into 4 equal pieces. On a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a small ball and pat into a flat circle about 8 inches in diameter and 1/4 -inch thick. Cut a steam vent in the middle of each circle.

In a large, deep frying pan, heat 1 to 2 inches of vegetable oil to 375 degrees. (The oil should be deep enough so the dough will float.) Place each dough circle, one at a time, into the hot oil. Fry for 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. The bread will puff slightly and become crisp and brown.

Remove from the hot oil and drain on paper towels. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Serve with honey, butter or powdered sugar. Or use for Indian tacos.

Makes 4 pieces.

- I'll Have What They're Having: Legendary Local Cuisine (Threeforks Press, $18.95)

Indian tacos

1 pound lean ground meat (beef, lamb, venison or pork)

1 cup diced yellow onion

4 cooked Navajo fry breads

1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded

3 tomatoes, diced

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 (3-ounce) can diced green chilies, drained

Sour cream, optional

In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, brown the ground meat and onions; remove from the heat. Place the fry bread, cupped side up, on separate plates. Layer the ground meat, lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar cheese and green chilies on top of each fry bread. Top with sour cream, if desired. Either roll up or serve open-faced with a fork.

Makes 4 servings.

- I'll Have What They're Having: Legendary Local Cuisine (Threeforks Press, $18.95)

Buttermilk scones


2 packages dry yeast

1/4 cup warm water

1 quart buttermilk, at room temperature

2 eggs

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

8 cups flour, approximately

Vegetable oil, for frying

Honey butter:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups honey

In a small bowl, moisten the yeast with warm water. Let stand 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix the buttermilk, eggs, sugar, vegetable oil, baking powder, salt, baking soda, 4 cups flour and the softened yeast. Beat until smooth. Add the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Cover and let rise until double in bulk. Punch down. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

In a mixing bowl, combine the butter and honey, beat with an electric mixer until desired consistency. Set aside.

To cook the scones, heat the oil to 365 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out dough. Cut into 2 1/2 - to 3 1/2 -inch rectangles. Place rectangles in hot oil. (The dough should sizzle and cook moderately fast.) When golden brown, turn and cook on second side until brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel. Serve with honey butter.

Makes 4 to 5 dozen.

- Heritage Cookbook, The Junior League of Salt Lake City