Ok, so I guess tonight this is a food blog. What would call that? A flog? Well the reason for this departure from my normal “beat” is on the Travel Chanel they had a special come on called “Donut Paradise.” And, well, as weird as it might sound; I think I might be kinda knowledgeable about doughnuts. I never really thought about it but I HAVE been to a lot of doughnut shops-and not just in one city, but all over. I’ve watched a donut franchise totally change-like the Chicago area Dunkin Donuts. They’re almost exclusively owned by Pakistanis. I don’t even know how something like that happens. But I think it happened. And I’m pretty sure in the old days there was more of a variety in the stores.The people running the shops are nice but it just seems like they have fewer donut makers or something.
At any rate, the show, Donut Paradise, went all over the country to about 5 or 6 locations and looked at local shops. But they started with a history lesson. In the old days these things were called, accurately, oily cakes, and they not have those famous doughnut holes that we’ve all come to know and love, but listen, those Dutch folks were having a hard enough time trying to get used to “America” so naming stuff wasn’t a priority. The name came later and was supposed to be the invention of Hansen Gregory, a 16 year old kid (of course!) in Maine. He cut a hole because the center wasn’t cooking fully and stayed oily. Have you heard the story about the Earl of Sandwich? He was sick and tired of greasy meat, so decided to hold his meat between 2 pieces of bread and THUS invented the sandwich. So this “creation of the doughnut” story is another "necessity being the mother of invention tale."
By the way, have you noticed my switching the spelling of donut/doughnut? Well “officially” it’s doughnuts and obviously they’re interchangeable in the pronunciation department, but in MY mind shopkeepers chose the short version years ago because it was just cheaper if you were paying a guy to make you a neon sign or even paint a sign ! It also seems to have a lot to do with attitude. Shops that call themselves donut shops seem to be more down to earth. In fact TOO down to earth; my local joint back in Hollywood, a little South of Hollywood Blvd. on Vine catered to the local prostitutes and drug attics. And those folks weren’t even there for the donuts, they came for the coffee! But I would still give that Winchell’s HELL for having crummy donuts! My argument was; all you sell is donuts, you’ve got all day to make them, you’ve got all the supplies you need, you KNOW these in the shop taste terrible, it’s not complicated cooking job!! So yeah, I gave ‘em hell.
Here’s the supper weird thing about LA donut franchises; they seem to have banded together to keep the Dunkin Donut franchise outside the city limits. You won’t find one in the entire city. Fact. Dude I checked, and I checked hard. One tidal wave they could NOT stop was Krispy Kreme . By now, most people in the country have tasted Krispy Kreme donuts, if you haven’t been lucky enough to be near a shop, then maybe your local grocery store has them. Years ago when I was living in Richmond Virginia I was once driven to one of their shops-and it was late at night and it was all white (decorations) in there and I think I just got weirded out because I could feel some type of “old timey” white (people) vibe. So I never had any of the donuts. Years later I’m living in LA, and I heard about how good they were. All I did was HEAR how good they were and I knew I had to try them. Now, the Krispy Kreme strategy in those days was to open a store outside of town, build up word of mouth, then attack the city. So I drove way down to La Habra for those donuts . And the line was ungodly!
There’s another donut shop in LA. Maybe you’ve seen their sign.
Randy’s is not too far from the airport, so it’s not exactly close to my old neighborhood in Hollywood, but it’s what I might call HEARTY. They’re tasty, but in a way that totally different from Krispy. Randy’s donuts are heavy and really covered in toppings pretty heavy. Maybe that’s why it’s a drive-thru, they know you’re going to be woddling if you get out of that car. Plus I hear they make a big ass donut like the one I got here in Chicago recently.
So watch the Donut paradise program, and you can see a bunch of fancy and not so fancy doughnuts and donuts, but you should really just go and EAT one today.