My adoration of the venerable doughnut is such that it almost inspires me to cast sonnets in its name.
I actually got as far as “O doughnut hole, doughnut hole, wherefore art thou, doughnut hole…” in my head, my collegiate poetry studies inching back as I rolled the headline for today’s post around in my head this morning, munching on a chocolate-caramel frosted cake doughnut—perfect, lightly crisp exterior, luxurious, velvety chocolate and caramel drizzle—from my favorite local bakery this morning in between sips of deliciously black coffee … The bakery had some fantastically delicious-looking doughnut holes this morning, but, alas, right at the moment when those holes caught my eye, my box was already full of glazed doughnuts, sugar twists, cinnamon glazed, a couple long johns, a traditional chocolate cake, cinnamon-caramel raised, Bavarian cream … my dietary conscience halted impulse before I brazenly gilded the lily... I had enough to chew on with my wife and kids at breakfast to honor National Doughnut Day—and the last day of school for the kids—likely with room to spare…
So what’s in a name?
Doughnuts (or “donuts,” if you must…) have effortlessly traveled across myriad cultural lines. The Dutch—responsible for bringing doughnuts to U.S. shores in the early 1800s—called them oliekocken or oliebollen. The French have the choux beignet, Israeli the jelly sufganiyah and Latin Americans their churros. Pre-Lenten Polish pączki and German fasnacht equally delight. Inspired iterations of doughnuts pop into culinary cultures from Iceland to Indonesia.
This unilateral adoration is no surprise. Doughnuts have long maintained their inherent ability to delight. And today, multiple U.S. doughnut chains complete for share of sugar-buzzed stomach. The folks at Dunkin’, Krispy and Tim now face a wide range of regional competition. In my neck of the woods, Stan’s is drawing crowds of discerning doughnut fans. Glazed and Infused, Doughnut Vault and Do-Rite also know their dough. And if you are ever in a 7-Eleven in Chicago, you have the wonderful folks over at Talerico-Martin to thank for those doughnuts.
Retail is also feeling the doughnut love, with the category up 5.29 percent in dollar sales over the 52 weeks ending April 17, 2016, taking in $1.9 billion, per IRI, Chicago. Bon Appetit saw very nice dollar sales growth of 101.13 percent, but the top doughnut dogs in retail today are private label via the in-store bakery, Bimbo, Hostess, McKee and Krispy Kreme, who together comprise 84 percent of retail doughnut share. Although Bimbo was flat for the year, all of the others saw increases, with Hostess jumping the most, up 23.13 percent. You can read our full doughnut report in the upcoming June “State of the Industry: Bakery” issue.
So, if you haven’t already, grab a doughnut today as a salute to venerable, cross-cultural, indefatigable doughnut. In an age that seems to raise nutritional eyebrows at every turn, sometimes a bit of indulgence is just the thing to put everything back into perspective.