Restaurant Rivalry: The Case of the Disappointing Donut

Pictured+here+are+the+classic+glazed+donut+and+the+%E2%80%9CSanta+Suit%E2%80%9D+donut+from+Duck+Donuts.+Not+pictured+is+their+warm+temperature.+Photo+by+Trey+Williams
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Restaurant Rivalry: The Case of the Disappointing Donut

Pictured here are the classic glazed donut and the “Santa Suit” donut from Duck Donuts. Not pictured is their warm temperature. Photo by Trey Williams

Pictured here are the classic glazed donut and the “Santa Suit” donut from Duck Donuts. Not pictured is their warm temperature. Photo by Trey Williams

Pictured here are the classic glazed donut and the “Santa Suit” donut from Duck Donuts. Not pictured is their warm temperature. Photo by Trey Williams

Pictured here are the classic glazed donut and the “Santa Suit” donut from Duck Donuts. Not pictured is their warm temperature. Photo by Trey Williams

Trey Williams and Alex Maisenhelder

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In all my years as a Corral Reporter, I have never found a case as hard to crack as this one. Here’s the scene: it was 3 o’clock in the morning, the faint moonlight glistening over the victim’s home. Penn Station bags and Menchie’s spoons laid about the victim’s room from a day of excellent food.

Here’s where it gets ugly. In an unmarked paper bag the victim found the perpetrator: a sub-par jelly donut. The victim had no idea what they were getting into. After the first bite, the all too familiar feeling of disappointment set in.

The victim’s night was ruined.

The following morning, after a desperate phone call from their family, we arrived at the scene. The outside looked normal, but you can never tell a food crime until you enter the crime scene.

The victim was curled into a ball, sobbing uncontrollably. When we searched the room, we knew it couldn’t be the sub or the frozen yogurt, both getting rave reviews in our previous issues. Just before we were about to call it a day, we saw the unmarked paper bag. I took a whiff.

Jelly.

I knew right then and there that this was a donut case. This was going to take a lot of detective work. Thankfully, we both had donuts and coffee just that morning. We hopped into the police car, wondering who could have committed this heinous crime.

DOUGH: Now, donuts have many different forms, and therefore many different types of dough. I don’t care if it’s firm as long as it’s not like eating a shoe. I don’t care if it’s light as long as it isn’t boring. As long as it’s an interesting, positive texture, you got it.

ICING AND TOPPINGS: This is the true identity of the donut. If these are low quality, boring, or just bad, the donut is hitting the slammer.

ATMOSPHERE: Donuts are some of the most whimsical, fun food you can get. Their home should be just as full of wonder as the donuts themselves.

SERVICE: I enjoy donuts. Going to a donut should be a good experience. Please, worker, don’t make this a bad experience. Don’t take forever to take our order (spoiler alert!)

VARIETY: Donuts can come in so many different forms, it would be a shame to not take full advantage of the donut medium. Give us filled donuts, circle donuts, munchkins, whatever! I want options!

COST: There exists a cost to experience ratio. I don’t care if it’s the best place I’ve ever been to if it costs $13 a donut. If it’s good, it can be more expensive, but not to a fault. If it’s bad, it at least should be cheap and bad.

 

THE DAPPER DOUGHNUT: QUALITY WITH A COST

Pictured here are an assortment of the jelly, glazed, and a few other donuts from The Dapper Doughnut (hand for scale). photo by Trey Williams.

Our investigation began after getting a tip for the Dapper Doughnut. I’ve heard a lot about this place from many people across the station – only good things. No criminal record. I didn’t know until I walked into the store what I was getting myself into.

The first thing I noticed was the stench – it smelled like oil. These donuts were freshly made. I became even more skeptical that a donut from here would be the crook when I looked around at the place itself. This place was absolutely adorable. It looked new and welcoming and homey.

Still, you don’t know a crook until you meet them. I walked closer to the counter to see the menu, and I knew instantly we weren’t at the right place. These donuts were super small, perhaps 3 inches in diameter.

My mouth watering was instantly halted by one key detail: the price. A dozen dapper doughnuts is 8 bucks. Are you kidding me? These are bite sized. I can get almost a dozen donuts for less than that!

Still, I was on duty. I couldn’t turn back now. I ordered the donuts, 3 jelly and 3 glazed. Despite my years hardened as a detective, I still felt childlike wonder at seeing the donuts get made. They are each made fresh to order, and are inserted into an adorable little fryer. They were all still warm when they were handed to me.

These were the best donuts I have ever had.

These were the cutest little itty bitty donuts I have ever seen! Chewy, but not in a bad way. Made fresh, still warm. Very nice, especially because of how late in the day we went.These were not heavy at all, a tiny donut had little to no impact on my mental or physical health. Did not feel terrible after eating. Smelled nice and fresh as well.

The glaze was still wet and sticky, which is great instead of the crustiness that can come along with an old glazed donut. The jelly was not as satisfying to eat as a fully jellied jelly donut, due to these donuts not actually being filled, but the taste of the jelly was still excellent. The powdered sugar was also a nice touch. While it was sweet, it wasn’t disgustingly sweet. This is a difficult balance to maintain, and Dapper did it well.

Now, in my investigating I always try to refrain from going at closing time, but this case needed to be solved urgently. Still, the service was excellent. The woman there made sure we understood how the store worked, which was extremely helpful due to the unconventional set-up. She also gave us nine entire donuts for free. Can I be bribed as a detective with years of experience? Yes.

I might go here every day if it was not for the utterly ridiculous cost. If you have a ton of money and want to pay for an experience, this is your place. Everyone else, give this place a look on a special occasion. This was definitely not the fiend we were searching for.

Dapper was a bust. Thankfully, we still had other leads. Strange Donuts was next on the list.

STRANGE DONUTS: MORE “NUT” THAN “DOUGH”

Pictured here are the glazed and jelly donuts from Strange Donuts. Photo by Alex Maisenhelder.

I could not tell from walking into the store the innocence of the donuts. No familiar donut stench. Suspect.

Still, this place looked fantastic. The blue and white theme was very welcoming and new looking. It had a donut diner vibe, which was admirable. The donut mugshots also looked absolutely incredible. There were so many variations and toppings and fillings to offer at Strange. This place easily had the most donut options of everywhere we went to.

Our culprits were glazed and jelly, however. I remained composed, that’s what you have to do in the donut detective business. I ordered the glazed and their “Cherry Jelly” donut. The staff here was also excellent. I first ordered a donut with Nutella on it, which I am allergic to. Once I realized my rookie mistake, I told the cashier and they offered to throw all the donuts away and give me stuff that had not been touched. I declined, and thanked her profusely.

After receiving my nut free donuts and holding them in my hands, I was slightly disappointed to discover that these weren’t warm like Dapper’s. These donuts are freshly made, sure, but not right in front of you.

Still, you can’t really judge a donut until you eat it. The glazed donut was super glazey, super messy, and boring. The dough itself had a decent texture to it, but the taste itself was not very strong. It was difficult to hold the glazed, this thing was sopping. Still, the taste of the glaze made it a relatively satisfying bite. The jelly donut had a nice texture and a slightly better taste, but I was disappointed to find a lack of actual jelly inside the donut. The cherry jelly only made it into a third of the donut. Disappointing.

Easily the most impressive thing about a place like Strange is the variety in the kinds of donuts you can get. There are so many crazy flavors and combinations that judging this place on the glazed and jelly alone is not fair. My fellow detective had another donut, cheesecake, and claimed it was one of the best she had ever had.

Still, even with the jelly and glazed donuts, this place is quality for what you pay for. This place is carried by the quality of their icings and toppings. A donut from here is about twice as much as a donut from Dapper, with at least eight times the size, but maybe three fifths of the quality.

That was seven sevenths confusing. What I’m trying to say is that this could not have been the culprit. These donuts were far too massive and good looking to cause the reaction

DUCK DONUTS: LITERALLY OMG

Pictured here are the classic glazed donut and the “Santa Suit” donut from Duck Donuts. Not pictured is their warm temperature. Photo by Trey Williams

Now I’m getting frustrated. Who could have committed this crime? Thankfully, I know a guy who knows a guy who has heard the name “Duck Donuts” thrown around. Time to check this place out.

Once again, I was enamored from the moment I entered the store. This place is also adorable. While it isn’t as new and hip looking as the previous establishments, this place had its own charm. Little rubber ducks surrounded the service area. It was also nice how roomy this place was. The previous two places we went to were at best cozy, at worst cramped. This place had plenty of seating place.

I was slightly disappointed when looking at the menu that they only had torus shaped donuts (words like that are what keep me in the business). All the donuts are basically the same, the only differences being what’s put on top. These donuts better be good, or any donut from here could be a donut to fear.

This service, again, was great. Nothing of note happened, but I’m not going to take points away from this place for nothing happening. I ordered my donuts and discovered to my delight these donuts were literally made to order. Just like dapper, you could look through the duck laden window to see your pastry get produced.

We took our seats. Though this looked promising, our faces were grave. The terrible donut was still out there, and it was entirely possible we were about to expose ourselves to the same pain as that poor girl.

The donuts complete came to the counter, we brought them to the table, and brought the donuts to our mouths.

Sorry Dapper, these were the best donuts I have ever had.

I can’t and won’t ever be able to describe the satisfaction I had from eating this donut. It was like eating pure gold. The donuts themselves were a euphoric mix between funnel cake and donut. That description sounds like a sweetness tsunami, but somehow the sensation was never overwhelming. The glaze was melting off the warm donut, but never made the donut feel soggy. The other donut, while not real jelly, was also a treat. 

Most impressive of all, my belt still fit after finishing the first one. These donuts are small enough to serve as a harmless snack, unlike the caloric cacophony of Strange. 

Just when I thought I could not love Duck any more, my donut detective accomplice found wet wipes at the counter, so that you can devour these donut delights and leave with clean hands. 

If it were just me on the case, I would give this place a five out of five, but problems could arise for donut-lovers if you’re not a fan of Duck’s style. These guys don’t do any donuts but these cakey, warm masterpieces. If you dislike this style, I would recommend you stay far away from my agency and that you never go to this place. 

Duck was able to seamlessly combine the freshness and charm of the Dapper Doughnut with the heartiness and satisfaction of Strange. If you are looking for a freshly made, warm, cakey donut, waddle yourself over to Duck Donuts.

DUNKIN’: BEWARE

Pictured here are two glazed donuts and a jelly donut. The rest are irrelevant to this story. Photo by Trey Williams

I didn’t want it to come to this, but we are now left with no choice. A name that is synonymous with fear, disappointment, and shame: Dunkin’ Donuts.

When we arrived on the scene, the place was abandoned. We sat alone in the parking lot.  As we walked in, the only sound was some soft music coming from the kitchen. Eventually there was evidence of life; an employee appeared amid the soft whirring of a blender and rumble of the kitchen.

After suffering through subpar service we managed to place our order: two glazed donuts and one jelly donut. Little did we know the service would pale in comparison to what was to come.

We had the graveyard of a store to ourselves, choosing a table by a window with ominous lighting. It felt cold, not ushering you out, but not drawing you in either. Was this it? Did we find the crook? We wouldn’t know until we took a bite.

Biting into the glazed donut left something to be desired, as if it was incomplete. It was straight down the middle. not good, but not bad. Average. Too average?

My hands were shaking. Sweat stained my hat. Was I about to be another victim?

After one bite, my heart dropped. This was it. The feared formless jelly filled assassin.

This jelly donut is one that pains me to even describe. Not only was the outside of the donut painfully plain, the inside was borderline bad. It was desolate, barely containing enough jelly to be called a ‘jelly donut’.

It would be generous to call it mediocre. It was truly unsatisfactory.

Our mistakes didn’t end there. We went back up to the counter in an attempt to purchase drinks to wash the repugnant taste out of our mouths.

Their service was atrocious.

You would think that there was no one in the store, there was not a single soul within earshot of the counter. We had to stand there for an agonizingly long time with that vile taste stewing in our mouths. I kid you not, after ten minutes a worker finally moseyed over and just blankly stared at us as we stood at the counter. In a painful exchange we managed to finally acquire beverages. The service was dismal. Another strike against them.

Their variety was decidedly average, nothing at all interesting. The only thing in their favor was the cost, a remarkable deal in relation to places like Dapper.

However, even though we were left with a bad taste in our mouths and disappointed stomachs, not all was lost. We found the culprit, the source of misery for the poor sap whose case we had been called upon. Donuts, subs, or dessert. It doesn’t matter; it’s all in a day’s work.

EPILOGUE

Dunkin’s jelly donut was arrested later that evening. After extensive therapy, our victim was able to fully recover from their crippling disappointment. Though that jelly donut will never see the light of day, there are always more criminals out there. Be sure to look next issue to make sure you never become a victim to bad food, and to read our previous Restaurant Rivalry on our website to stay safe.