Fox’s Donut Den

4 May

Fox's Donut Den

Amidst a lackluster sea of chain restaurant signage, Fox’s Donut Den breaks up the monotony of commercialism with a nostalgic pop of neon. With its dancing doughnuts and Dutch boy mascot, the sign has become a Green Hills showpiece.


In 1973, Norman Fox, a then recent graduate of Lipscomb University, purchased a portion of the Memphis based “Harlow’s Honey Fluff Doughnuts” franchise. At the suggestion of his wife, he dubbed his business “Fox’s Doughnut Den” and began cranking out a steady supply of delicious sugary golden rings. In 1977, the business moved to its current location in Green Hills. It was at this time that Norman purchased the beloved sign from Harlow’s for $1,200, and had it moved from Memphis to its new home in Nashville. Over the years, the neon beauty has become one of Green Hills’ most recognizable landmarks.


In 2009, Brookside Properties began a remodel of the Hillsboro Plaza, requiring all of its tenants to update their signage. Hoping to create a more modern and uniform look, the quirky sign was removed by the property owners with no intentions of being returned. Fans of the beloved Donut Den were dismayed, and demanded the return of the neon landmark. A great loss was felt at the sign’s removal. Many believed the character of the area, which was in low supply to begin with, would be greatly affected if the iconic “dancing” letters were replaced with a static piece of painted fiberglass.


During its absence, hundreds of Donut Den customers expressed their wish to see the sign returned. Brookside was not deaf to the outpour of requests. After much deliberation, the property owners opted to restore, rather than replace, the glowing Green Hills attraction. After a few coats of fresh paint and some much needed TLC, the famous sign was returned to its proper location.  The Dutch boy had never looked better.


Today, it’s hard to imagine Green Hills without its most loved icon, and if you’re willing to brave the mall traffic, you can see the sign for yourself. The restored neon still hangs proudly above the Hillsboro Pike storefront. And if the sign alone doesn’t justify the venture, a few dozen treats from Fox’s bakery shelves are sure to make the jaunt seem worthwhile. No matter how frustrating that mall traffic can be.


Post written by: Natalie Hosselton


(To view an animated gif of the sign, click here.)

Harlow's Donuts

Before it was moved to Nashville, the famous sign belonged to Harlow’s in Memphis, Tennessee.






Blackwood, Suzanne Normand (2004, March 25) Donut Den: A delectable treat for many. The Tennessean.

“Donut Signs.” Web. 04 Apr. 2012. <;.

Williams, William. “Donut Den Dims the Lights after More than 30 Years.” Nashville City Paper. 13 Aug. 2009. Web. 04 May 2012. <;.

(sign photos found here.)


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