It's Donut Day! Which is your region? WaPo says there are nine of them
June 2, 2023 11:08 AM   Subscribe

According to the Washington Post there are at least nine distinct US doughnut regions. (gift link)

Because it's June 2nd, Donut (or Dough-Nut) Day, Here Are All The Places You Can Get A Free Donut Today.

(Unfamiliar with this fried dough treat? Doughnut at Wikipedia.)
posted by Rash (129 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I really appreciate the Shipleys representation. They’re my favorite, although they are an objectively worse breakfast choice than the less sweet cake donut of New England. Which is still pretty dang sweet, of course. Honestly, I am not sure that a Shipleys donut is that different from a Krispy Kreme except for being in a hexagonal shape. I just have happy childhood memories of getting a chocolate filled Shipleys donut on Saturday mornings from a little shop that looked older than my parents. That filling was like icing, and I adored it.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:17 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]

I got my free donut in Greater Dunkin'Land, NJ branch.
posted by ceejaytee at 11:20 AM on June 2

The lack of good donuts in the northeast is almost mind-boggling. I don't even know where to go for a donut around here. There are one or two bakeries that do it alright-ish, but by and large? Dunkin, sad trash from a bakery, or cereal-crusted Instagram monstrosities. Even Krispy Kreme was a small step up when they were around, but they're still mid at best.

I see what they're getting at with the variety-density graph that points out Dallas as the "winner," but I wonder: are those donut shops making classics and doing it well? Or is it a bunch of small shops dunking stale cake donuts in ice cream toppings?

I have strong feelings about donuts, and so far nowhere but LA makes the grade.
posted by uncleozzy at 11:23 AM on June 2 [4 favorites]

Technically I am living in "Dunkin' Land" here in this corner of Brooklyn.

But if I want a donut ever, this is where I am getting it from. (They don't look like they have the "Iranian Love Donut" any more - something with rose and caramom - but they still have the mango lassi flavor, the raspberry currant flavor, and my all-time favorite: a chocolate donut with a Mexican-chocolate flavor glaze, and topped with a tiny two-inch churro.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:28 AM on June 2 [6 favorites]

Give me my donuts in a pink box.

And if the season is right give me a Donut Man Strawberry Donut
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:28 AM on June 2 [7 favorites]

Cute idea, but their faux statistical analysis doesn't tell you much about what doughnuts people are eating, since in a lot of the US, people buy them at the grocery store, not a shop. Krispy Kreme was founded in and still based in Winston-Salem and is still the doughnut of choice of most self-respecting North Carolinians.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:31 AM on June 2 [15 favorites]

Shipley's makes a pretty good donut, but I prefer the sausage, cheese, and jalapeno kolache, Just typing out the words makes me hungry for one.
posted by box at 11:32 AM on June 2

Unmentioned in the article are two chains popular in DC when I was much younger: Mr Donut and Amy Joy. The latter seems to have retreated to just Ohio (and maybe they just had that one New York Avenue location, which burned down and never reappeared) while the former's US operations were assimilated by Dunkin' in 1990.

I remember reading about Mr Donut overseas in TR Reid's Confucius Lives Next Door, he said they sold a confection called My Father's Fist which I've searched for (but never found) in their shops in Japan.

The Wikipedia page is worth perusing for its numerous international Regional variations. So much yummy-ness! Although (sad face) I haven't actually had a donut since my pre-diabetes diagnosis. But if you can, enjoy!
posted by Rash at 11:33 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]

Central and Southern California are the regions of the Southeast Asian immigrant mom and pop donut shop. Small Brand Fiefdom forever: corporate donuts still suck.

The Cambodian American Reign of Doughnut Shops Began in This La Habra Shop
posted by kensington314 at 11:39 AM on June 2 [16 favorites]

Dunkin' in my area barely even sells doughnuts, so I'm not sure I'd declare them a 'doughnut store'. I honestly think it's a miss-classification. Like declaring Starbucks the #1 sandwich shop because they sell some cheesy readymade sandwiches and they have more locations than Subway, therefore they are the #1 sandwich shop.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:42 AM on June 2 [5 favorites]

I think it's such a category error that I think you'd better capture doughnut density share by counting grocery stores and not Dunkin.
posted by The_Vegetables at 11:44 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]

One more donut link, with a Homer!

The article's mention of automated doughnut makers reminds me of the classic Homer Price story somebody made into a film: Donuts. I remember well the amazement we all felt in the mid-1960s when the upgraded local supermarket moved into their new digs next door, which featured one of these machines, in the bakery, beavering away behind plexiglass panels we pressed our noses up against.
posted by Rash at 11:44 AM on June 2 [6 favorites]

Now there's empirical evidence of what I knew at heart - DC is just saaaaaaaaaaaaaad on the doughnut front.
posted by EvaDestruction at 11:54 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]

since in a lot of the US, people buy them at the grocery store

My initial reaction was "Really!?" since it's never occurred to me to go to the grocery store for donuts. But then it triggered a vague memory of being little with my grandmother and getting a donut from Meijer. At least I think it was Meijer: I mostly remember using the crinkly paper to grab a donut and in my head it's at the Meijer's she used to shop at all the time. So it's never occurred to adult me to get a donut from the grocery store.

My favorite donuts have usually come from farmers markets or cider mills, but I also enjoyed Dawn Donuts growing up.
posted by ghost phoneme at 11:57 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]

I'm currently located in the maximal donut density region, but it's basically all Dunkin'. Columbus OH had a decent donut scene, and, more importantly, a large enough Polish population to be able to get paczki on Paczki Day. I keep trying to find some around here, but, no dice.
posted by damayanti at 11:59 AM on June 2 [2 favorites]

You can't get a good donut in Minneapolis except at The Baker's Wife and even there the donuts are not what they were. Mel O Glaze is probably second best and might pip The Baker's Wife if they had a more consistent selection. (To be fair, you can get excellent donuts from Rose Street Patisserie - real donuts made by someone who understands how donuts are supposed to work - but they're in St. Paul.)

I grew up with, like, lots of good donut choices and never imagined that I would move to a land bare of decent independent donut shops.

Glam Doll Donuts? Fine, if you want a chewy donut buried in goop and named after Betty Page. Bogart's? Weird, weird dough with a distinct sour note. No point in making donuts as big as my head if they are dry and sour with a thin glaze.

Where are the rich, cakey buttermilk donuts of my childhood? Where are the blueberry donuts that have discernable blueberry flavor? Where are the fruit fillings that aren't mere glop? I didn't grow up in affluence with fancy donuteries every ten steps, either.
posted by Frowner at 12:00 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]

OMG, Rash, thank you!! I love the Homer Price stories and never once thought to look for an adaptation.
posted by cupcakeninja at 12:02 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]

I will say that you can get sufganiyot in Minneapolis once a year and those are good, but otherwise what a donut desert!
posted by Frowner at 12:02 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]

They made a movie of the Homer Price donut machine? That's SO GREAT! Thank you for sharing that, Rash!
posted by kristi at 12:03 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

Tim Hortons brought back the Walnut Crunch and Cherry Stick donuts for International Donut Day. They tasted great!
posted by grmpyprogrammer at 12:03 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

"People all over the world eat fried dough, and nobody does doughnuts like the United States."

Hard to trust a source that doesn't fact check it's first sentence.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:04 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

DoRite, Stan's, Doughnut Vault, Firecakes, Dat, Huck Finn's ... Man Chicago has a good variety of non DD to choose from!

Dat Donut has the best Buttermilk donuts, but I can't get there easily.
posted by indianbadger1 at 12:04 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]

“As you ramble on through life, Brother,

Whatever be your goal,

Keep your eye upon the doughnut,

And not upon the hole.”
― Margaret Atwood
posted by SPrintF at 12:09 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

When I was a kid in Tulsa (Daylight territory) there was one Winchell's near where I had piano lessons. I remember thinking of it as a special treat, but that's perhaps based on the number of times we drove past without stopping. There was a Daylight less than a mile from our house and they had multiple locations around town, so I'm not surprised to see Tulsa has a lot of donut shops per capita compared to the average. My mom was very excited about Krispy Kreme (the neon "Hot Donuts Now" marketing got to her), but I gotta say I still prefer the flavor of a Daylight Donut.

Here in DC there are terrible Dunkin' locations all over the place with bad coffee and stale, trucked-in donuts. The nearest Krispy Kreme is the inferior type of store where the dough is made and shaped off-site and only fried on premises, and it just makes me miss the old production facility in Alexandria where everything happened on the spot and there was a window from outside where you could watch it all happen. I called it the theater of donuts. All the other donut places around here seem to be the sort with expensive Instagram pieces, and while I enjoy the occasional flight of fancy it's just not the same as being able to buy a cheap dozen fresh donuts on the way to work and make everybody's day.
posted by fedward at 12:11 PM on June 2

A local chain (I believe) to the Austin area is the Donut Taco Palace, which serves up a nice array of cake and yeast donuts along with kolaches and (of course) breakfast tacos. Nothing super-fancy, just good donuts and friendly service. They were immortalized in song by hometown heroes Shinyribs: Donut Taco Palace
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 12:14 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

I grew up in Small Brands Fiefdoms (Greater Seattle), did live for a while in South Tim Hortons, and now reside in Greater Dunkin’land. Neither of the latter two generally lived up to what I grew up with, in my so-humble opinion, but there are good options all over. You just have to love doughnuts with your (w)hole heart.

(I do miss maple bars, though—have never yet found satisfactory on the East Coast.)
posted by cupcakeninja at 12:14 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

New Englander here, and Dunkin' is indeed trash.

Here's a photo of the DUNKIN' DONUTS sign from my youth in 1970s Vermont. Look carefully, the marketing lingo says "We pledge to make our donuts fresh every 4 hours!"

And indeed they did, not to mention the donut that literally was designed for dunking. also captured in that beautiful logo.

As kids, my friends and I would raid the DD dumpsters at night and liberate boxes of discarded doughnuts. Even those literal trash donuts were better than the ones they sell now!

The lack of good donuts in the northeast is almost mind-boggling. I don't even know where to go for a donut around here.

Again, not wrong. There are great donut places here, but they are few and far between, and often have a limited supply. Typically you have to get there early in the morning and these places often close before noon, or simply when they run out.
posted by jeremias at 12:15 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]

When I was growing up as a kid in Florida, it was Mister Donut that was closest to us and they were good, but then became Dunkin. Dunkin wasn't even that bad back then and Krispy Kremes become hot trash the second they're not hot.
posted by drewbage1847 at 12:22 PM on June 2

I grew up in LA and didn't realize what I had until I left. I don't even bother eating donuts people give me in Seattle. It's usually Top Pot...bigger and staler than anyone wants a donut to be. Donuts are so lacking in any redeeming nutritional value, if they aren't SUBLIMELY TRANSCENDENT why even bother?

I think the numerical, data driven approach is really the wrong way to declare a donut capital. Yeah maybe they have a lot of shops and a wide variety of operators but are they any good? Or is everyone in Dallas opening up a donut shop because they eat the inedible cardboard donuts of the guy down the street and think they can probably do better?
posted by potrzebie at 12:28 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]

In the Maryland area around me, we also have tragically few good donut option. Dunkin' is everywhere, but they've fallen so far since my childhood. There used to be a Dunkin' locally that made all the donuts fresh every day, but that ended a loooong time ago.

A new bakery opened near my neighborhood a few years back featuring "biscuits and donuts". While their donuts were great at first, they decided to really focus on the biscuits instead (which are great) and now have a scant 6 kinds of donuts, none of which are particularly good.

There was a pretty good local chain just over the border in Pennsylvania, but the owners went full MAGA and bought a billboard proclaiming how the business was Pro-Trump and proud. Haven't been back since.
posted by Zargon X at 12:29 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

I'm in the autonomous incorporated citadel of Beiler's. There are none better.
posted by grumpybear69 at 12:29 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

I try hard not to remember I live a few blocks away from a 24 hour Yum Yum Donuts location, now a big chain that started as one of those SoCal family operations.

Seems like they've absorbed a lot of the Winchell's locations, which was my favorite growing up, and also started as a family operation in the San Gabriel Valley in an even earlier era.
posted by snuffleupagus at 12:38 PM on June 2

The lack of good donuts in the northeast is almost mind-boggling ...

Autumn in the northerner Northeast, at least in wooded areas likely to attract tourists, is a great time for apple cider donuts, cakey and delicious, sold by carts or stands.

When I was taking law school exams, I noticed that student government had set up a table of free coffee and Krispy Kreme donuts. On mentioning it, I was told it must be a trap by gunners. Krispy Kreme donuts are sugary enough to make you crash, and if you haven't slept enough, coffee just makes you fragile, so you'll burn out in the middle of the exam.

This was a joke, of course. I think. I'm pretty sure. Law school would make you wonder.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:42 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]

I also have to give up my New Englander card over my opinion about Dunkin'.

Dunkin' sells the saddest versions of happy foods. A donut is a thing of joy, but a Dunkin' donut is sad, uninteresting, and leaves an unpleasant film on the tongue. A cup of coffee is a small but reliable pleasure, but a cup of Dunkin' coffee is flat and uninspiring. A breakfast sandwich is a wonder of modern food science; a Dunkin' sausage egg and cheese on an english muffin is still slightly frozen in the middle and microwave-bread-chewy on the edges.

It is food to make you forget why you like food.
posted by gauche at 12:42 PM on June 2 [10 favorites]

resident of North Tim Hortons, and their donuts are mostly trash. I am sad that the only Robin's south of Thunder Bay closed, as it was pretty close by.

When in the USA, there's only one good chain: LaMar's.

Mister Donuts in Japan was quite fun, though I can't unsee the unspeakable/hilarious thing by friend from Kentucky did with a segment of a bran donut ...
posted by scruss at 12:42 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]

I liked Winchell's also. I remember when I first went to LA in 1981 somebody telling me the per-capita consumption of donuts there had just passed the amount of burgers eaten, per person. I thought, that's a lot of donuts.
posted by Rash at 12:45 PM on June 2

I feel SO SEEN. I moved midwest to East coast and the donuts are a huge difference!! I was like why is there only this one chain everywhere? Their donuts are only ok and their coffee isn't particularly good. I don't get it at all!! I don't miss much about my hometown - but it's the local donut store I hit up every single time I go back home.
posted by everythings_interrelated at 12:46 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]

Since Winchell's is gone if I want a donut and I'm in LA the only source is Bob's in the Farmers Market.
posted by Rash at 12:46 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

And in Silicon Valley, Stan's in Santa Clara.
posted by Rash at 12:48 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]

scruss: I'm truly surprised I had to scroll this far down to find mention of LaMar's! They are the best - even if they have gotten stupid expensive.
posted by jferg at 12:59 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

Winchell's still exists in name if you're willing to hop on the freeway, it just has a much smaller footprint. Though I think it is now owned by Yum Yum, anyway, even where the name hasn't changed. The donuts are pretty similar.

But Bob's is good too; Farmer's Market is always fun if you're willing to deal with the parking or are close enough to walk.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:00 PM on June 2

The Winchell's/Yum Yum info tracks for me - they both had a number of locations in San Diego when I was growing up, but I can't think of any off the top of my head now. Lots of indys though.

I don't know how it relates to the state of Michigan as a whole, but the Grand Rapids area seemed like a bit of a donut oasis when I lived there - Krispy, Dunkin and Tim had all made inroads into the area, but there were also tons of indy shops that maybe did some other kinds of baking on the side. Standout was Marge's Donut Den, but I don't know if I've ever been any place with so many storefronts that were just little local bakeries of some sort. Maybe it's the Dutch influence?
posted by LionIndex at 1:05 PM on June 2

"The lack of good donuts in the northeast is almost mind-boggling. I don't even know where to go for a donut around here."

We must live in different northeasts. I'm in the "Tim Horton's South" area, and there are tons of great doughnuts readily available, and Tim Horton and Dunkin are at the bottom of the list.
posted by jonathanhughes at 1:06 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

Lived in Dallas area from 2015-2021, then moved to Salt Lake City area. I agree completely with the TFA: Dallas has the best donut shops, but SLC is a good second place (and the weather is nicer)
posted by Doleful Creature at 1:10 PM on June 2

Rash, the inspiration for Homer Price's donut machine is on view in his hometown of Hamilton OH. There's also a brochure of local sites related to him but the frat boys who lived there at the time didn't like it when I took a picture of his birthplace.

I like cake type donuts but not glazed/raised because I don't like fried eggs.

Wikipedia says Yum Yum took over Winchell's but in the LA area a lot of the mom and pop places kept the sign shape when they opened in former sites.
posted by brujita at 1:11 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]

Brujita, yes, for example there's definitely a Michelle's in one former Hollywood Winchell's.
posted by kensington314 at 1:24 PM on June 2

The other thing in LA is almost everyone who grew up here seems to have a story about getting robbed at a 24 hour Winchell's in the 90s. I knew a guy who was present for a Winchell's robbery at sword-point in the early hours somewhere around '95.
posted by kensington314 at 1:27 PM on June 2

Mr Epigrams tried to find Southern Maid for me this morning but instead of a storefront, he found where they make their flour! I received Dunkin instead. We usually get local donuts (there's a mom-and-pop around the corner) but I love Southern Maid and Shipley.

Shipley, for those boycotting because the owner is a terrible person, is now owned by a private equity firm. I'm not crazy about private equity buyouts, but in this case it does mean I can eat my childhood favorites without guilt. (Our family Christmas Eve ritual was to open presents, go out to see lights, and get donuts.)
posted by gentlyepigrams at 1:34 PM on June 2

Central and Southern California are the regions of the Southeast Asian immigrant mom and pop donut shop. Small Brand Fiefdom forever: corporate donuts still suck. posted by kensington314

LA Times: Why are doughnut boxes pink?
posted by eckeric at 1:39 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]

There's a Shipley's Donuts a few blocks away from my parents' house, since the 70s or so, and still going strong. The absolute best damn donuts ever (I will fight you, etc etc.). Comparable to Krispy Kreme, which surprises me that its kingdom is so small.
posted by zardoz at 1:45 PM on June 2

Highly recommend checking out The Donut King, a documentary about Ted Ngoy, the Cambodian refugee mentioned in the article who started a donut empire in southern California. Streaming on Hulu in the US.
posted by General Malaise at 1:45 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]

Rochester, NY is where Tim Horton's creeps in from Buffalo to meet up with Dunkin' Donuts coming in from points East. You can probably sight a Tim's from Dunkin' and vice versa.
posted by tommasz at 1:57 PM on June 2

So really it sounds like the United States is not a place where great donuts are everywhere so much as a place defined by the absence of great donuts - we long for donuts, we have a vision of donuts and yet the donut is always experienced as a failure or a lack. Something something Lacan, something something Zizek.
posted by Frowner at 2:08 PM on June 2 [8 favorites]

sweetwater donut mill in battle creek/kalamazoo is your best bet - of course, grocery stores, including meijer's sell donuts and right before mardi gras, paczkis

we also have tim hortons and dunkin donuts - but many independent bakeries outnumber them
posted by pyramid termite at 2:12 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

I'm supposedly in Dunkin land in SE TN, but Dunkin' is a recent import (recent being after 2012). I prefer to get my doughnuts from Ingle's or the local shop. Krispy Kreme is great fresh, but they closed a lot of stores.

I used to work in the bakery at Ingle's actually and as I was the closer, I would be responsible for putting out hot fresh doughnuts at 4pm. They weren't the yeast kind that proofed and then fried, but were frozen ready to bake. The icing was super fun to do, but it really worked best on the yeast doughnuts. They stopped doing that at some point.
posted by tlwright at 2:14 PM on June 2

When I was a kid, my tiny town had Schulte's Bakery, which had the best donuts. We rarely got them for the family but I would often take my lunch money and buy donuts instead. (I'd pack my own lunch after my dad would give me lunch money and then either buy some donuts or stop by a little burger place that had the best crinkle cut fries... yes, I was a "husky" kid, why do you ask?)

Schulte's closed in the early 80s, and that was really sad. I miss their donuts.

"since in a lot of the US, people buy them at the grocery store, not a shop"

I wouldn't have thought about this, but it's possible and also sad. I don't think I've ever had a good grocery store donut. The grocery store donuts I've had are technically donuts but I'd place them at nearly the bottom of the list. At the top you have local shops, then Krispy Kreme, then Dunkin', then grocery store bakery donuts, and finally the sad packaged donuts like Entenman's or (worse) Hostess donuts.

If you are in or near Durham, NC - Early Bird Donuts is the best local place, hands down. They don't have the name recognition some other local places have, but they have damn good donuts and the owners seem particularly nice.
posted by jzb at 2:17 PM on June 2

The Boston metro area has some great donuts, but they have weirdly subtle signage, so they can be hard to find amongst the Dunkie's. Blackbird serves the donuts you miss from Dunkie's 70's heyday. Union Square Donuts are more cakelike and really tasty, plus you can feed a family of four off one donut. Seriously, they're the size of a pizza.

When we were trapped in NZ due to COVID, we happened to walk past the Dunkin' on Queen St. At the time, things were so weird we wondered if we'd ever get to go home again. I ate a chocolate donut and cried from homesickness. The film stayed on my tongue for ages. I did not get another one because honestly that was enough. (I then went to Sephora and dropped a bunch of cash out of homesickness.)

The donuts that are dearest to my heart are cider donuts, and those aren't sold at donut shops nowadays (mostly). You need to go to farm stands and apple orchards to get them. When I was a kid, that was the epitome of donut.
posted by rednikki at 2:26 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]

Daylight doughnuts are the best doughnuts. Well, there are better doughnuts, but not from a big chain. Their yeast doughnuts are not quite fermented enough. When I lived in Tulsa I was just around the corner from a place called Paradise Donuts. Despite their use of the heretical spelling, they had the most delightful doughnuts. Also good sausage gravy biscuits. Super cheap, too. Half a dozen doughnuts and a couple of orders of the biscuits barely broke ten bucks.
posted by wierdo at 2:45 PM on June 2

I miss food fried in animal fat. We found a burger place that cooked fries in beef tallow and they were amazing. Then a Culver’s opened two blocks north of them and they closed. I haven’t had real grease donuts since I was a kid and boy do I miss them.
posted by toodleydoodley at 2:59 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

Another Canadian here chiming in to say that Tim Horton's donuts are mediocre, much like everything else they serve. But we have so, so many of them.

The graphs in the article, especially the donut shops per capita one, were lacking in actual numbers. So I looked it up and Providence has over 23 donut shops per 100k residents. It took some digging, but in 2016 Moncton, New Brunswick has 26 Tim Horton's with a population of just over 100k. Not all donut shops - just Tim Horton's alone puts them ahead of any US city.
posted by thecjm at 3:03 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

Only Krispy Kreme for me.
posted by 3.2.3 at 3:07 PM on June 2

I don't think I've ever had a good grocery store donut.

In Florida, the Publix donuts aren't half-bad, especially early in the morning. They beat the pants off Dunkin for sure. I'm originally from New Hampshire and agree with those who are partisans of cider donuts, fresh out of the fryer, from a farm stand - there is nothing better. We have a few indie hipster donut shops in South Florida but they tend to go with flashy toppings (bacon! cereal!) and neglect the flavor and texture of the underlying product.
posted by Daily Alice at 3:19 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

I recently moved from Philadelphia to the Appalachia-Rustbelt junction region. I was surprised when I moved here just how different the Dunkin' Donuts is. Philly Dunkin' is maybe nothing amazing, but reliable. The donuts are a pleasant, sweet treat, the coffee is usually fine (often better black coffee than Starbucks anyway), the breakfast sandwiches are pretty good. Every Dunkin' in the Philly area that I went to was the same, and it was decent.

When I first was moving here, I stopped at Dunkin' Donuts a few times to get quick breakfast, and it is garbage. The donuts are completely different, and they taste like bread with a dollop of crappy cupcake frosting on top. The coffee is drinkable at least, but the breakfast sandwiches are nearly inedible.

However, there is also Tim Hortons here, which feels delightfully exotic to me as someone who's only been north of the border once. It's pretty decent. Maybe a half step down from Philly Dunkin'. Nothing amazing, but way better than the local DD.

My favorite donuts I've ever had came from Rise bakery in Durham, NC. That was ten years ago, don't know if they're still as good.
posted by biogeo at 3:23 PM on June 2

It took some digging, but in 2016 Moncton, New Brunswick has 26 Tim Horton's with a population of just over 100k.

So that works out to about 1 Timmies per 3846 people, which makes sense with the small town I grew up in having 2 TH franchises. One horse, two Tim’s.
posted by rodlymight at 3:28 PM on June 2

Dunkin turned to crap when they stopped making doughnuts in the store. Remember "Time to make the donuts?" Instead of them sending the day-olds across the street to 7-11, they come to the store already day-old.

Krispy Kreem? Ugh, someone should explain to them that "sweet" is not a flavor.

Wegmans used to make great ones, but have dropped the ball in the last few years.

The last really good one was at a local cider mill last October, but they only make them seasonally.
posted by Marky at 3:34 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]

St Louis (15 years ago) had some of the most amazing mom & pop donut shops. They were dotted all over the city, but you could still see the closed storefronts of many more. My favorite was World’s Fair, next to the botanical garden. While I’m not a huge fan of cake donuts, if you got one of theirs right out of the fryer it had a lightly crispy, delicate exterior with an almost custardy fried dough interior. Fucken amazing.
posted by slogger at 3:50 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]


Their service area is under-represented on here, tbh. It's been too long since I've had one, but then it's also been a while since I was in Liberty.
posted by scruss at 3:53 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]

Solidly in indie-land here. Even the Winchell's I remember growing up became a mom and pop shop back in the 80s (though I think it *might* have been a Yum Yum at some point in between). I just looked it up and it's still there, and still indie.

There are so many ex-Winchell's in the LA/OC area that were picked up by mom-and-pop shops of all kinds that didn't want to spend extra money replacing rounded-triangle the structure of the sign that I considered taking photos and starting a Tumblr called used-to-be-a-winchells back when Tumblr was still popular, but I never got around to it.

There's one near where I live now that was an indie shop when I moved to the area, and had almost-but-not-quite the same name as another indie shop down the street, both using the street name as part of the shop name. The other shop changed its name to use the side street's name instead...shortly before the ex-Winchell's one closed. It's now a completely different kind of business (not even a restaurant), but the sign shape is still the same!
posted by KelsonV at 4:00 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

Randy’s are an LA icon.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:11 PM on June 2

Although Dunkin covers a lot of east coast territory, I feel like their takeover the southeast is much more recent, and definitely not as entrenched in the culture as it was in the northeast when I lived there. For Florida, I agree with Daisy Alice that Publix donuts beat out Dunkin by a mile.

The chart showing percentage of stores by region is more interesting, with small brands and regional chains having a stronger presence as you move west. Growing up in the midwest, the small mom & pop bakeries had the most amazing doughnuts. I remember as a kid there was a pit stop my parents always did on our drive up to the Wisconsin Northwoods in a tiny 1-bakery town somewhere north of Green Bay that had the best jelly donuts. When I think of the perfect donut, that's the one I imagine.

I can't believe this article doesn't touch on yeast vs. cake. Surely that's an important part of regional differences. And is there any meaningful distinction between doughnut and donut?
posted by amusebuche at 4:16 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

“ My favorite donuts I've ever had came from Rise bakery in Durham, NC. That was ten years ago, don't know if they're still as good.”

They are not. Rise decided to “pivot” to focus on biscuits and chicken. I’m not even sure if they have donuts at all now. Pity, they were really good.
posted by jzb at 4:22 PM on June 2

Yes, donuts in here in Dunkin territory, New England, aren’t all that good, but when fall comes, so do the apple cider donuts from all those apple orchards and green markets. They are the best.
posted by AMyNameIs at 4:28 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]

Now there's empirical evidence of what I knew at heart - DC is just saaaaaaaaaaaaaad on the doughnut front.

had this conversation with taquito boyfriend's mom, who just moved back to California after years in northern Virginia, she said she couldn't get a bear claw, she said no one knew what a bear claw was

asked me about Wisconsin & I realized my town didn't really have donut shops, we had local bakeries, but also we had a culture where grocery store baked goods were supposed to be actually decent & baked fresh in house every morning, so you probably couldn't get a really amazing donut there, but you could get a perfectly okay donut, and you could in fact get a bear claw

(side note: the Czech population in Texas decided kolaches should be savory while in Wisconsin they are very much a sweet pastry & I'm super used to them being filled with poppyseed paste so the idea of a jalapeño kolache breaks my brain, would 100% eat though)

here in the Phoenix East Valley we have local chain Bosa Donuts, which I can't not read as Bosa Deeznuts, but I can't tell you how they are because taquito boyfriend prefers Hurts Donuts, a place which does a Voodoo-style donut where they like crumble up your favorite 80s childhood cereal on top & throw in some bacon, etc.

I like them fine but honestly the platonic form of a donut for me is the shitty microwave frozen glazed donuts my dad used to eat, they gotta be yeasty & the frosting has gotta crust up, and the chain that replicates this perfectly with somewhat higher production value is Krispy Kreme, and especially I like their maple ones

which was a lot of words to convey the meaning of "I am not qualified to speak on the subject of donuts"
posted by taquito sunrise at 4:33 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]

I don't get donuts very often, but when I do, I find a strip mall indie and look for staff of Asian ancestry, because small family run joints are the best donuts. And I wondered about who was running them and why there's a type, but KQED came to the rescue: Why Donuts + Chinese Food = A Very Californian Combination.
posted by straw at 4:37 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

I grew up with Mr. Donut in my hometown in WNY. Amazing to see the brand live on in Japan and perhaps some other asian countries. Still remember watching the guy make the donuts with the machine, smoking a cigarette. They had absolutely insane big cream puffs too. Another one, short lived, was donut connection. Which I think was a great name. Looks like they're still around and covering a large territory:
posted by nutate at 4:39 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

Rochester, NY is where Tim Horton's creeps in from Buffalo to meet up with Dunkin' Donuts coming in from points East. You can probably sight a Tim's from Dunkin' and vice versa.

I'm about twenty miles from Rochester and, much to my amusement, if Wegmans were not in the way you probably could see the Tim Horton's from Dunkin's. (Wegmans' donuts are a great improvement on both, but that's not saying much.)

I mostly grew up with Winchell's, of which I have vague but fond memories. But this thread made me realize that I can still remember a nursery school field trip to Randy's Donuts from nearly fifty years ago!
posted by thomas j wise at 4:48 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

The whole time I've lived in LA, I've lived within a block or two of a donut shop. When a friend from out of town was visiting, she was like, "you guys really like your donuts here in LA, they're everywhere," and I was like, "are they???" before realizing I've generally lived within a few blocks of, like, three donut shops and that perhaps this is not a universal experience.

Anyway, shout out to Primo's for being such a perpetual test of my willpower and smelling so delicious. A fresh Primo's donut leaves Dunkin in the dust. Also, their croissants are great and as big as my head, almost.
posted by yasaman at 4:49 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

Give me that eggy sugar-encrusted cruller or GTFO. And not the cake kind! Crullers are supposed to be as hollow as your soul was before you bit into one.
posted by credulous at 5:00 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]

Indeed. My favorite donut as well. In a Facebook discussion about this day I had to point out they're Spritzkuchen in Germany; in fact I question their French-ness, don't recall seeing any in France, yet they're often labeled French Crullers in the US. Possibly something like "English" muffins?
posted by Rash at 5:09 PM on June 2

yeast vs. cake. Surely that's an important part of regional differences.

Really? Any doughnut shop I recall has both on offer. Are there regions where one (or the other) are dominant?
posted by Rash at 5:14 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

One data point: Krispy Kreme's website, which matches my experience in-person, has a whopping one cake donut out of their 20 options.
posted by meowzilla at 5:19 PM on June 2

yes-- the Glazed Blueberry, AND IT'S TERRIBLE. I just had one in DC and it was horribly, cloyingly sweet without any tangy fruit flavour.

It's very rare to find a good cake doughnut here in London either. Any leads, let me know.

In the US, when driving out of DC into Virginia, I like to stop at The Apple House for their apple cider doughnuts and apple fritters.
posted by Pallas Athena at 5:43 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

I remember back in the day, the one semester I went to the University of Kansas...

Joe's Donuts, (actually called Joe's Bakery it seems). Open late at night. Hot donuts fresh out of the fryer/machine. First time I had ever had fresh, hot, donuts. Nothing better after beers late at night. Gone now it seems, but so good. Plain old hot raised donuts... Mmmmm
posted by Windopaene at 5:50 PM on June 2

Growing up in the south western tip of Virginia it was Krispy Kreme or nothing. They even had a neon sign that lit up when they were making fresh doughnuts om nom nom. The special southern secret was stale Krispy Kreme but put it under a broiler for a bit with butter on top.... decadent yum.

Now I've been in LA for so long that ..... yeah, there's a good family shop a block or two away almost everywhere.
posted by zengargoyle at 6:08 PM on June 2

I grew up with in a family of 4 boys and a fairly exhausted single mom. To try to get us to go to church, she would promise us a trip to the donut store on the way home. (Winchells). Being ravenous lads, we would buy I think 2 dozen donuts, which inevitably would not survive until mid afternoon. To this day I experince consuming a jelly donut as a religious experience.
posted by jcworth at 6:15 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]

she said she couldn't get a bear claw, she said no one knew what a bear claw was

Fun cultural displacement on that topic, after my now-wife brought donuts from a local bakery:

Me, eating: What is this thing? I thought it was a bear claw, but bear claws don’t have fruit.
Her: That’s an apple fritter. Have you never had an apple fritter?
Me: I have not.
Her: You’ve never had an apple fritter?!? And what did you think it was?
Me: A bear claw.
Her: What is a bear claw?
posted by fedward at 6:28 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]

“‘Twixt optimist and pessimist
The difference is quite droll,
The optimist sees the doughnut,
The pessimist the hole.”
- Oscar Wilde
posted by bendy at 6:37 PM on June 2

I could never tell why there were so many combination donut shop/Chinese food restaurants in San Francisco until someone suggested it was because both cuisines use deep fryers at different times of the day. Does that make sense?
posted by bendy at 6:42 PM on June 2

Missed your link straw, and the shop in the top photo is the exact one I was thinking of.
posted by bendy at 6:45 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

This article, and thread, is really working hard to make me miss Greater Detroit, home of Dutch Girl and the Apple Fritter Shop. My arteries rejoice, but my heart mourns.
posted by skookumsaurus rex at 6:54 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

Although this video sums up the relationship of Dunkin' Donuts with Bostonians (I can tell you where the guy is supposed to be as he's giving directions based on the Dunk's locations he lists - and can tell you which ones have since closed), but there are now any number of artisanal donut shops and chains around, like Union Square, Blackbird and Mass Hole (and Anna's Hand Cut Do-Nuts in West Roxbury, where, when the pandemic meant no more indoor seating, long-time customers would bring folding chairs and keep hanging out on the sidewalk on Sunday mornings), as well as non-artisanal Dunk's-like chains, like Honey Dew and Mary Lou's.
posted by adamg at 7:17 PM on June 2

Justice for Donut Savant!
posted by suelac at 7:48 PM on June 2

The first time I ordered a bay area custard donut, the baker pulled out a huge injection machine and pumped delicious, life-giving custard into my fresh donut.

"They do things differently out here," I thought while munching.

Years later at a different store, I asked about the custard and they said it was not regular custard but "Vienna creme" or some such and it was preferred because it was shelf stable for three days. Who needs an injector when the food chemical wizards have come up with ways to generate more profit for less.

"No thank you."
posted by user92371 at 8:29 PM on June 2

Are there regions where one (or the other) are dominant?

a whopping
one cake donut out of their 20 options.

Maybe an extreme ratio, but there's typically more yeasty choices. One place you'll only find cake (although they don't call 'em donuts) is the State Fair: funnel cakes.
posted by Rash at 9:50 PM on June 2

1. They spelled it doughnut, not donut. Psh.

2. Unless something has really changed in the last 5 years, I feel like Tim Hortons is not at all represented in St. Louis the way this map would have you believe. I recall there being much greater Krispy Kreme density. This makes me suspicious of the entire enterprise that is this map.
posted by limeonaire at 10:36 PM on June 2

Shout-out to Don's Donut Bar in Arcata, CA serving fresh doughnuts and South-East Asian Sandwiches (that's how they were billed on the menu): a bagel with julienned picked vegetables, some sort of meat or tofu and dressing, I think? And at least when I lived there, the only place open 24-hrs. So many great memories there.
posted by smirkette at 11:25 PM on June 2

Weird article that does not mention Biscuits as the competition. Salmon biscuits were a go to for 6am working breakfast in rural Georgia.

My favorite place in New Orleans serves them with honey butter and a strawberry, to taste.

Atlanta might be the epicenter of biscuits in the nation, what do people think? Flying Biscuit, anyone?

Down here you can t beat Morning Call or Cafe Du Monde for 4 am donuts,

although you can mix it all up and get anything you want at the Buttermilk Drop
posted by eustatic at 3:13 AM on June 3

Also, do other towns have shops where cops have leaned so far into the donuts that they lay down their arms and open donut shops?
posted by eustatic at 3:22 AM on June 3

An hour and a half east of Montreal, in Berthierville, one can find D’élices d’antan (trans: old time delicacies) that makes the most incredible donuts using a distinct potato dough base. I have had the pleasure of eating them only a few times in my life but… wow.

Also: screw all these fancy donut flavors. Is there anything better than a crisp old fashioned with a solid hit of nutmeg?
posted by elkerette at 4:27 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

I’m here to predict the next trend in fried dough is lokma, based on the sudden proliferation of lokma stores in Scarborough, and the franchised Mr. Puffs in my immediate neighbourhood that has lines longer than the competing Krispy Kreme a block down (the Tim Hortons between them both is doing fine.) The lokma are fried to order and then topped with a variety of things including Nutella-based sauces.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:51 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]

We may be in Dunkin’ country (yuck) but the only donuts I eat are from Local Donut.
posted by terrapin at 5:49 AM on June 3

I'm so disappointed, I thought this was going to describe the different styles of donuts in different regions.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:48 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

And I'm STILL HEARTBROKEN that Dinkels in Chicago closed. They had the best cinnamon CAKE donut. If anyone knows where I can get a great CINNAMON CAKE donut in Chicago, please MeMail me.
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:51 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]

I used to work in Palatine IL, home of Spunky Dunkers which wasn't just a great local donut shop but the best name ever.

They also still sell coconut flake donuts unlike those jerks at Dunkin.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:36 AM on June 3

I buy them at the grocery store, but the store is H-Mart, and the donuts are the twisted kind from the little cafe inside. They're so much nicer than Dunkin'.
posted by Akhu at 8:06 AM on June 3

Atlanta might be the epicenter of biscuits in the nation, what do people think? Flying Biscuit, anyone?

Flying Biscuit's biscuits are sweet. It's super weird, and not at all what I think of when I think of a proper Southern biscuit. To me, the NC Piedmont would also be the capitol for biscuits--where you have your choice of Bojangles (based in Charlotte) or Biscuitville (based in Burlington).
posted by hydropsyche at 8:41 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

I miss doughnut robots. Any dinky Donut King in Australia had a Belshaw Donut Robot cranking out a production line of fresh, hot cinnamon doughnuts.
posted by zamboni at 11:06 AM on June 3

And in Silicon Valley, Stan's in Santa Clara.

Rated #8 on Yelp’s Top 100 US Donut Shops 2023
posted by Rash at 11:14 AM on June 3

Dunkin' sells the saddest versions of happy foods

I stopped getting bagels at Dunkin during the morning rush after realizing they were microwaving them instead of toasting...

The whole time I've lived in LA, I've lived within a block or two of a donut shop.

My favorite part of the LA food scene is that while the entire rest of the country thinks it's salads, Wolfgang Puck, and organic cuisine, it's actually donut shops, deli, and independent hamburger stands.
posted by hwyengr at 11:41 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]

I had two (small) frosted cake donuts from the grocery store (Cub Foods) this morning. One of them was dry and pretty flavorless, one was deliciously cakey, at least for a grocery store donut. Both were fresh and had been sitting next to each other on the shelf, although they had different colored sprinkles. I think it's the inconsistency that's the issue with grocery store donuts - you might be able to get a pretty good cruller or glazed donut and then the fritters are terrible, etc, whereas usually with donut specialists the quality is relatively consistent.


I did want to say that Minneapolis's own Glam Doll Donuts may sell gloopy and unthrilling donuts, but I'd forgotten that it's actually a very charming place to have coffee mid-afternoon, before they close for the day. If you wonder what arty coffee shops were like in Minneapolis in the nineties before the rents went up, you could do worse than visit Glam Doll - the vintage tables and mid-century armchairs are in good condition but haven't been jazzed up into anxiety-producing fanciness, the color scheme and layout are really on-point. In my lost youth I idled away many an afternoon in places that looked like Glam Doll and were only a little grimier. It's actually a good place to grab a coffee and maybe split a donut with a friend, not so much for the donut as for the charm.
posted by Frowner at 11:48 AM on June 3

My spouse just reminded me that when we were kids (in Charlotte and Miami) a lot of the doughnuts we ate were Krispy Kreme from fundraisers where the truck delivered a bunch of boxes of doughnuts to high schools and students then sold them to other students to raise money for their sports team or whatever. He remembers buying them for a dollar each. I totally remember buying an entire dozen with a friend and gorging ourselves. It looks like they still do that, but with some modern twists.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:57 AM on June 3

The primary reason I have no use for Krispy Kreme is pairs of their donuts wrapped in red&green cellophane, which they sold in my high school cafeteria, in Maryland. Dunno how old they were; certainly not fresh. The worst! (Secondary reason is people bringing them in to work, fresh; when they expanded into California many years ago. Lift the lid on the box, and a whiff of that product made me want to hurl.) Also too sweet: Entenmann's.
posted by Rash at 12:20 PM on June 3

Note that after Yelp’s Top 100 US Donut Shops 2023 they also list the 25 best Canadians.
posted by Rash at 12:22 PM on June 3

Growing up in Toronto, where the Tim's doughnuts are fine (not as good as they used to be), the first time I had Dunkin's abomination called a donut was in 2010 in grad school in NYC. My friend had asked me to come be a secondary dramaturg on a reading of the show he was working on, and as I sat down, he offered me a box of Dunkin'. I took one, imagining that it could not be that different from Tim's. Friends, it was one of the worst things I have ever tasted. It was cardboard with sugar paste on it. I honestly was unaware that one could screw up doughnuts like that. I almost refused him my dramaturgical expertise after that. I still remember how bad it was 13 years later. The worst coffee I've ever had was also from a Dunkin', at 3am on a Florida highway. Dunkin' scares me. I do not (doughnut?) know how they make things that poorly.

I have to admit that I got overly emotional when the first Tim's franchises opened up in NYC in Penn Station and at 96th and Broadway in 2008 or 2009. Are they amazing? No, but they're comforting.

A bougie Tim's opened up next to my apartment in Toronto a couple of years ago. It's a really strange place, with a combination of very little food-making capacity, and overly elaborate doughnuts not found in regular Tim's shops (which are pretty decent, and I will admit to enjoying the matcha coconut very much on occasion).

I'm a strong proponent of mochi doughnuts at the moment, and will pull for Isabella's Mochi Doughnuts in Toronto, which are light, airy, chewy, and very tasty. I had my first Mochinut at the new franchise in Princeton, N.J. last weekend, and they were pretty good as well.

However, nothing will ever quite beat the warm fritters that one elderly woman in my childhood neighbourhood made for Halloween every year, fresh out of the oven. Thank goodness nobody was in the panic-stricken "all goodies must be store-bought and wrapped" mode at the time, because, though we only knew her as "The Fritter Lady," I will remember those fritters until the day I die (and there was a reason my dad was as eager to go trick-or-treating as I was).
posted by ilana at 1:21 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]

It's hard to find good doughnuts where I live. That seems like an insane thing to say because it's fried dough for god's sake.

Are doughnuts a particularly difficult business?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 1:44 PM on June 3

Well, Atlanta does strive to ascend 'southern'; I was thinking of Atlanta as one pole of biscuit diversity, and it s not on this donut map, and that seemed false

Ido agree that Flying Biscuit is nothing like the Butter laden baked goods available from cinderblock roadside drive thrus open in Jasper County at 6am

And I was thinking of 'Biscuits that,Donut people would understand as donut-adjacent'

Look people, just because it s the south doesn't mean we are off the map of delicious convenience-market baked goods, we might just like butter and savory over sugar and sweetness
posted by eustatic at 1:51 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

still reeling from the sweet potato fries served with dinner in Tennessee being sugar-and-salted , eustatic — I think you’ve got sweetness covered

now I want a biscuit tho
posted by clew at 1:59 PM on June 3

Tim Hortons is not at all represented in St. Louis the way this map would have you believe

I think their data is old. There used to be a couple of Timmies in STL, but they're both gone now. The company is a mess: it's trying to get sold to be a Canadian company again, but the sale is all sideways.

But why would anyone even think of a duffnut from Timmies when there's Donut Drive-In?
posted by scruss at 2:39 PM on June 3

We buy our donuts at Kwik Trip. I'd say in the past 15 years, both Krispy Kreme and Tim Horton's opened a bunch of stores in Minnesota and have closed all of them. Dunkin has come back now. I know like 8 years ago the only one in the state was down in Rochester, but now there are at least 5 in the Twin Cities.

I went to a Dunkin in New York in May and asked for an old fashioned. I got a plain old cake doughnut with no split in it and it was not glazed.
posted by soelo at 3:13 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

DoRite, Stan's, Doughnut Vault, Firecakes, Dat, Huck Finn's ... Man Chicago has a good variety of non DD to choose from!

Stan's (in Chicagoland, not to be confused with the Santa Clara Stan's mentioned elsewhere in this thread), incidentally, is something of an import from Los Angeles. A few years ago, my parents—who live in Westwood—visited me in Chicago and were very excited to try this nice bakery they'd heard about. Imagine their surprise to learn (only after purchasing the donuts) that our local donut shop had followed me to college! Well, preceded by a year or so, but who's counting?

Anyways, Stan has since retired and the LA shop is a Primo's now, but it's nice to know that his legacy lives on in Illinois.
posted by the tartare yolk at 3:14 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

There are plenty of Asian-owned donut shops around here. However, a quarter mile from our house are TWO scratch bakeries. One does fancy, laminated dough creations, and breads from grain they grind. All quite delicious - and expensive.
The other is a mom/pop shop that was recently passed along to the kids after the founder (and father) died. They have improved so much it’s crazy. They used to packaged dough/mixes, now everything is from scratch, and most days they are sold out by noon. They have great cake donuts (my fave), excellent fritters (especially blueberry), and the very best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever eaten. Not to sweet, tender crumb with just the right amount of cinnamon filling, topped with a light sweep of cream cheese icing. I split one with my husband - so good with coffee. All their creations are quite budget friendly, the cinnamon roll is the most expensive item at $3.75.
We suffer an embarrassment of riches.
posted by dbmcd at 3:18 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]

Since there were a couple people not believing the donuts in Dallas, yes they are amazing, and almost all Cambodian (assuming they’re the same group that made their way over in California). There can be 3 such “DONUT” shops within a mile. (Those are the best places, the ones that just say DONUT and are probably in a small strip mall next to a laundry mat).

Being in north Texas, we don’t have Shipley’s (yes, in Texas there are even donut regions!). The donuts are fine, but the sausage rolls are not good. And I am a bit offended that I was corrected by a Shipley’s employee to “kolache” when I asked for a sausage roll. I know that in Texas some people call them that, but it’s not correct. (The Czech Stop in West, Texas serves the real ones). So, no, not a Shipley’s fan, give me Donut Palace or Southern Maid or DONUT anytime.

Also, it was also a shock to me when I moved out of Texas to Atlanta, and it’s only Krispy Kreme (ewwww what kind of name is that?). I literally asked people from Atlanta where their Asian donut shops are and got very confused looks. During my time there I learned there were exactly 2 in the city.
posted by LizBoBiz at 3:45 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

It's hard to find good doughnuts where I live. That seems like an insane thing to say because it's fried dough for god's sake.

Are doughnuts a particularly difficult business?

I kinda think so, they are a product which is best when fresh, and then quickly drop off in quality in short time, in a way that is very noticeable. Yeast donuts, for example, simply spoil after two days.

So that means as a small business you have to gauge your supply and demand very efficiently. Too few donuts made and you close your shop when the supply is done. Too many donuts made and you end up wasting them or getting a bad rep for stale donuts.

All of that is made more difficult due to the amount of lead time it takes to make a new batch, you can't just whip some up in a few minutes.

Also, the profit margin can't be very high on your basic donut, it is after all just fried dough, which is why the big chains push people towards fancy drinks and other menu items and the boutique places add the fancy toppings of Fruity Pebbles or whatever to justify the higher price.
posted by jeremias at 4:14 PM on June 3 [2 favorites]

Also too sweet: Entenmann's.

Counterpoint: Entenmann's frosted chocolate donut is the Platonic ideal of the shelf-stable supermarket donut.

They solved the "it gets stale sitting on the shelf" issue by fully coating it with chocolate. Genius.
posted by mikelieman at 4:17 PM on June 3 [1 favorite]

do other towns have shops where cops have leaned so far into the donuts that they lay down their arms and open donut shops?

Ah, I see you know the joys of Blue Dot. I live in walking distance of them and only let myself remember this fact every so often, lest I become as rotund as the ex-cops running the place. They’re not making lavish gourmet donuts but they are doing solid takes on the traditional standards; going to them makes me happy the way going to McKenzie’s used to when I was a kid.

Really I think “gourmet donut” is kind of a hole in New Orleans’ food landscape. There’s District Donuts but they are firmly in the “throw a bunch of sugary cereal on it” camp and those get to be really cloying really fast for me. My husband misses Rodeo Donuts up in Seattle a lot and so do I, they’d do simple donuts that highlighted one or two unusual flavor choices. Maybe we just haven’t found the right places, a lot of our exploration got curtailed by moving here just before the pandemic.
posted by egypturnash at 9:13 PM on June 4

Are doughnuts a particularly difficult business?

I think they explained it pretty well in the article. Doughnuts are extremely cheap businesses to open, don't require much expensive equipment, and don't require many ingredients, so they are actually very simple. The hours (early AM to Noon) are terrible, the competition is fierce, and the margins aren't particularly high, so that's why more immigrants open the shops.

My favorite part of the LA food scene is that while the entire rest of the country thinks it's salads, Wolfgang Puck, and organic cuisine, it's actually donut shops, deli, and independent hamburger stands.

I would say donut shops, independent hamburger stands (all of them are red white and black), diners, and so-so sushi restaurants. Every strip mall is going have doughnut and sushi with a bigger building (often stand-alone) that will have either a hamburger restaurant or diner out front.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:19 AM on June 5

I kinda think so, they are a product which is best when fresh, and then quickly drop off in quality in short time, in a way that is very noticeable.

Bread pudding made from stale cider donuts or other cake donuts is amazing. (Shout out to Cider Belly in Albany NY's day-old donut bags.)
posted by gauche at 9:50 AM on June 5 [4 favorites]

Krispy Kreme was founded in and still based in Winston-Salem and is still the doughnut of choice of most self-respecting North Carolinians.

I'd take a local Duck Donut over a mega-chain, mass-produced Krispy Kreme donut any day. From one North Carolinian to another. (Though the wife disagrees with this sentiment.) :)
posted by Dez at 2:03 PM on June 5

Apparently they moved their headquarters from Duck to Pennsylvania at some point, but I do take your point. Other than Duck, NC, they still seem to be mostly in urban/suburban areas (including here in Atlanta), so lots of rural North Carolinians are still picking up their Krispy Kremes at Food Lion like they always have.
posted by hydropsyche at 4:16 AM on June 7

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