All it takes is that one word—donut, or doughnut—and people immediately swoon.
When I was a kid, mom made breakfast most mornings. Sunday mornings, though, Dad trekked us all to the donut shop where we got to choose our own favorite flavor. It was a treat, not an everyday indulgence, and it was memorable.
The donut shop was also a learning experience. It’s where I saw my father’s amusement when the worker combined two pots of coffee, pouring the full one into the almost empty one instead of the other way around—and I vowed to not make that mistake. It’s where I observed the patience of the counter clerk who willingly waited while children deliberated. It’s where I debated the physics of how that cream got inside the donut.
There’s a lot to be learned from a donut.
Multiple textures are attractive. Growing up, I favored Shipley’s, because they had a chocolate filled donut that fulfilled all of my sweetest fantasies. You got donut, glaze, and some sort of pudding interior that combined everything a kid could want in one bite.
Absence enhances memory. When we moved to a town that did not have a Dunkin’ Donuts, I started to crave them—on the principle that you want what you can’t have. Now, when I run into them at airports, I always have to decide if nostalgia is worth the calories or if memory can suffice.
Familiarity breeds complacency. Along came Krispy Kreme, and I was willing to drive out of town for the experience—but when they built one in my town, the thrill was gone. The donuts are still good; it’s just that the “hot” sign no longer holds allure when it’s too readily available.
Stick to your model. When it comes to almost any kind of food, it’s the experience that counts, so Chicago’s Doughnut Vault offered a challenge. This tiny store offers a few donut choices but when they are gone, they are gone, leading to lines that stretch around the block. Yes, I waited in line once (okay, twice), and they were good enough. Again, though, it’s because they were unavailable that I wanted them. Maybe I’m starting to see a personal pattern here . . .
You can have too much of a good thing. On one of my frequent visits to New York, I checked out the Doughnut Plant. Even with co-workers along, we couldn’t possibly try every flavor—and we got a sugar high from trying. While these are seriously good donuts, sometimes one is enough.
Creativity goes a long way. Lately, we’ve been fans of the Hurts Donut shop simply because of the name (think about it—say it out loud if necessary) and the fact that you can get unusual varieties of donuts. They have all kinds of candy bar-topped donuts, donuts iced and rolled in cereal, and a popular maple bacon donut. Even old ideas can be new again with a little creativity.
It’s good to save time for new experiences. Recently, I finally made it over to Glazed and Infused in Chicago, taking a detour on the way to the office . . . and I have to say it’s my new favorite. The donuts are big, not too cake-like, not too sweet, pretty much perfect. In fact, a co-worker accused me of a form of Goldilocks’ Syndrome. It wasn’t just that I couldn’t decide among the flavors, but once I decided (on the chocolate peanut butter and, put away for later, the raspberry cheesecake), I spent my time talking about how my donut was “just right.” I learned that, at least in this case, there was a reason for all the hype.
So swoon away, and enjoy your favorite donuts wherever they are. Oh, and if that woman in front of you deliberates over her choice too long, just ask her to move. I’ll understand.