Happy Donut Day

I’ve posted this in different places the last couple of years, so I thought I’d post it again, even though it doesn’t have much to do with being a daddy.  Although, I do seem to imply that I’d rather spend the day with a box of donuts rather than my children.  Hmmm…

There are two things in this world that I love above all else: Donuts and ice cream. Now, some of you might be surprised that I did not say something sappy like “my wife and kids” or something macho like “the New York Mets and New York Giants,” but I simply cannot deny who I am. I love donuts and ice cream. They are always appropriate and almost always available. When I am at work, I cannot be with my wife and kids, but I can be with a dozen doughnuts. I can’t watch football in the summer nor baseball in the winter (nor, for a couple of months, anything at all), but I can have ice cream any time I want . Besides, ice cream doesn’t disappoint me in September.

So, since Friday is National Donut Day (it’s the first Friday of June…make sure to mark June 1st for next year …I like something in a glaze and my size is a dozen…make that a baker’s dozen), I wanted to do something to honor the donut. At first, I thought about running a live blog, commemorating the events of the day, starting at midnight (“First donut of the day …a nice glazed French cruller. Light enough to not disturb your sleep and cause heartburn, but satisfying enough to compliment a tall glass of whole milk”), continuing into the first big decision of the day (“Okay, Dunkin Donuts’ is on the way to dropping the kids off at daycare, they have a drive through and I could use a real nice cup of coffee but on the other hand, I could swing by the Giant after I drop off the kids and really put in the time needed to pick out the perfect half dozen and maybe even stick my face into the case to really take in the fine sugary aroma.”), on to the next big decision (“While I am getting my lunch at Wawa’s, do I get one of the ‘fresh’ donuts or should I get a box of the Entenmann’s crumb donuts?”) and finally the dinner selection (“Beer is already heavy in yeast, as well as the pizza, so I will go with a chocolate glazed cake donut that will really bring out the hops in the beer”). However, I thought there would just be too much material to cover on Donut Day, and I do want to make sure I have a chance to enjoy it.

I thought about getting a few dozen donuts and handing them out to the various people I encounter during the day, but I am fairly certain that would have ended with me being too shy to hand them out to strangers and then ultimately having to go to a hospital to have my stomach pumped because I ate six dozen donuts by myself.  Throwing them out is an act of pure sacrilege…you must honor the spirit of the donut every day of the year, not just on this, the Holiest of days (ouch, yes, that pun even hurt me).

I thought about keeping the kids home with me and doing the traditional Donut Day festivities, like frying up our own, leaving flowers at the empty donut cases at the local gas station where they used to deliver Krispy Kremes every morning, and making a chain of donuts and hanging it around the tree in front of our house. You can make your own chain of donuts by cutting a donut ring, link it up with another donut and use a nice royal icing to close up the donut. You keep going until you have a donut for every year since the Salvation Army started Donut Day. This year, I would have to have made 74 links in my donut chain.

Sadly, I have to work today. I can’t afford any more vacation days in this economy.

So, I thought I would just write about donuts and offer some thoughts about them. For the record, donuts can be spelled either “Doughnut” or “Donut.” Archeological evidence seems to indicate that donuts can be traced back to ancient Native American tribes in the southwest. However, the donut as we know it, was introduced to the U.S. by the Dutch as “olykoeks” which translates to oily cakes.

My personal favorite brand of donuts is Giant, a grocery store here in Pennsylvania. These underrated donuts are freshly-made, soft and delicate, practically melting in your mouth. I am fairly certain that they are cooked, not in oil, but in the tears of laughter from angels that has been heated by the flames of the Olympic torch. The flour used in these noble creations must have been grown on the plains of Elysium and the sugar taken from the great banquet tables of Valhalla. They are not overly weighed down in sugar glaze like a Krispy Kreme and they aren’t as heavy as a Dunkin Donut. They are perfection. I must wipe a tear from my eye.

Don’t get me wrong …I love Dunkin Donuts, especially their apple donuts with the filling inside and toasted coconut on a sugary glaze on top. Their bow-tie donuts are fantastic…two donuts, interlocked to form a gooey, squishy knot in the middle. And, if you are in the mood for a great cup of coffee, really, nowhere else can top the combination DD offers (don’t even get me started on their Coolatta’s).

Although very good, I believe Krispy Kremes to be overrated. There, I said it…that feels good to have that off my chest…even though I am a stock holder (my four shares are worth $33.28 as of market close on Thursday …I wonder how many donuts that buys). These donuts are good, but I feel that the heavy glaze really insults the delicate little rings. A little less glaze or maybe just dusted in some cinnamon and sugar and I may have a new favorite.

A friend of mine reminded me this morning of Maple Donuts. This is a chain in the York, PA area. Some also had a little diner attached. It was a popular place to hang out in the middle of the night in college. They made national news during the OJ Simpson trial when the put up billboard with black backgrounds that said “Free OJ” in big white letters and “With the purchase of a donut” or something like that in very little letters. They also stirred up trouble when they offered “Powdered Pontiffs,” Pope- shaped donuts covered in confectioners’ sugar, when Pope John Paul II was visiting the U.S.  I was never a big fan of their donuts, but I have some fond college memories from there. Plus, how could you resist a donut with a sense of humor like that?

Speaking of York, the Giant grocery stores (I think) there had my favorite all-time donut. They took a normal chocolate glazed cake donut, sliced it in half and then put a light, fluffy icing in the middle…pure genius. These were a favorite at bake sales in college. I could never resist a table full of sorority girls, the field hockey team or the women’s tennis team offering up these wonderful little creations …There were times where I think I may have passed out once or twice in front of their table. Who am I kidding …I could not resist them when a fraternity, the rugby club or the male tennis team were selling them, either.

Earlier, I mentioned “fresh” donuts at Wawa’s. These are decent, but they are unreliable. They claim that they are made fresh daily, but sometimes, they just don’t seem that way. A few weeks back, I found out why. I went to our local Wawa’s around 10:00 PM and saw them delivering the “fresh” donuts. Yeah, they may be made fresh daily…but it looks like it was the day before. I have since boycotted Wawa’s donuts …Don’t mess with my donuts, Mr. Wawa! (I am a big fan of your coffee and bacon, egg and cheese biscuits, however, although it seems my local store has stopped making them).

If I am forced to buy a box of donuts off a shelf in a grocery store, then I would have to go with Entenmann’s crumb or chocolate donuts. For “not fresh” donuts, they are fantastic. When I was younger, my brother and I would cut my neighbor’s lawn or shovel her drive way for cash and a box of donuts (or some other cake or cookies…her husband worked for Entenmann). If I am honest with myself, at that age, I probably would have shoveled three feet of snow for just the box of donuts…what could be better than working that hard in the cold and heading back home to a nice warm fire with a box of donuts to go with the hot chocolate? These days, it would probably take two boxes of donuts and a cream filled French Crumb Cake, which are impossible to find in a supermarket.

I have made donuts at home several times, and have been mostly disappointed by them. And it usually takes eating about a dozen of them before I realize how disappointed I am with them. I have gotten the dough just right a few times, but I think there must be a trick in the oil you use. Mine never come out with that nice delicate “crust.” I still need to do my research.

I like to cycle (I need to work off the donuts, plus, I like to pretend the wheels of my bike are two giant glazed donuts) and every year, the local bike club, the Lehigh Valley Wheelmen, holds an event on Labor Day called “The Donut Derby.” It is a 36-mile ride with two rest stops. At the rest stops, there are donuts as far as the eye can see. For every donut you consume, three minutes are taken off your final riding time. The only rules are that the donuts need to be eaten at the rest stop and you are listed as “Did Not Finish” if you don’t keep the donuts down while riding. It is the perfect event, although I have had disappointing results. The first time, I was only able to do five donuts. The winner did 17. It took me a while before I could look my brothers in the eyes after that. They know my love of donuts, and they were so disappointed in me, as was I. The second time I did it, I ate a more respectable 10 donuts, finishing in the top 10 for donuts consumed. What’s more, my average speed was 18.5 MPH, by far my fasted ever for a distance of 35 miles or more, and that wasn’t even using the DAT (donut adjusted time). It was one of my most proud days.

So, yes, I love donuts, and I am not sure I could tell you why. I think it may be the variety you can get them in or the understated sweetness. I realize that I may have a problem, but I figure there are worse problems I could have. I do love donuts and I was happy to share my love of them with all of you. Happy National Donut Day! (Only three months to the Donut Derby and seven and a half months to Fasnacht Tuesday!)

And one last thought …Homer Simpson is my personal hero.

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