Thursday, June 29, 2006

Clean Plate Club

Blognut would like to invite its readers to check out our new sister-site, Clean Plate Club. CPC is a collection of writers chattering about NYC eating, drinking, and snacking (and occasionaly eating like a child) while occasionally sending foodie frou frou back to the kitchen.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

LA Times has no time for Dunkin

A recent LA Times piece praising Peet's Coffee as being the predecessor to Starbucks in bringing gourmet coffee to Folger's-sipping Americans (the chain started in Berkeley, CA 40 years ago) neglected to credit the second biggest joe-hawker in the world - Dunkin Donuts. As DD-devoted blog, Dunkin Donuts Talk, keenly points out, Dunkin sells their roast in a whopping 5,550 stores, second only to Starbuck's 8,000 locations. However, in what must be an omission based on a technicality (as DD's focus stems from boiling oil rather than roasted beans), the Times gave the second spot to Caribou Coffee with their meager 322 stores. While Blognut is not one to defend a major cooperate force such as Dunkin, in this case we are obligated to stand up for the object of our obsession. If you're out there LA Times, we would appreciate a correction to this glaring bite of misinformation you fed to the donut-loving public.

Largest coffeehouse chains in the United States by number of stores, first quarter 2006:

1) Starbucks: 8,000
2) Caribou Coffee: 322
3) Tim Horton's: 292
4) Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf : 213
5) Coffee Beanery: 200
6) Seattle's Best*: 160
7) Peet's Coffee: 112
8) Tully's: 100
9) Dunn Bros. Coffee: 85
10) Port City Java: 55

*Subsidiary of Starbucks

Monday, June 26, 2006

1.6 Donuts per flush

While there is no longer a Krispy Kreme doughnuts in Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, there is in fact a well-hidden mural of classic KK images celebrating the store's origins in nearby Winston-Salem. In a disappointing display of disrespect, the mural is located in the main terminal food court in a custodial hallway right across from the bathrooms.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Banbury Cross
705 S 700 E
Salt Lake City, UT 84102

For reasons we will not get in to, earlier this week Blognut ended up in Salt Lake City, Utah. After successfully avoiding theological conversion while touring the Morman Temple and Tabernacle, we decided it was time for a donut. A quick Google search later and we knew exactly where we had to go.

In 2001, Banbury Cross Donuts was voted best donut shop in Salt Lake City by Citysearch, which, surprisingly, is filled to the brim with local donut dealers (a finding which once again brings out our frustration with New York City and its unacceptable lack of donut shops). We blow $10 on a cab to Banbury which is located on a mostly residential road a few miles from downtown Salt Lake. I comment to my Slovenian cab driver on the magnificence of the Wasatch Mountains (the portion of the Rockies in which SLC resides) to which he responds “I hate the mountains” – (having grown up near the Slovenian/Austrian Alps he apparently has no respect for our second-rate American counterpart).

I arrive at Banbury Cross at 2:30 in the afternoon. I stand at the counter with a local mail woman taking a break from her deliveries to take in one of Banbury’s critically-decorated Nuts. After a few minutes of waiting for an employee to make an appearance, the mail-lady says to me confidently “They’re on break.” “Really,” I reply, to which she hits me with “No, just messing with you – they’re just lazy.” Then she starts laughing hysterically at her own joke, which I couldn’t help but think wasn’t actually a joke, but really just a lie.

Finally, an unenthusiastic Donut-Lady arrives at the counter and takes our order. The mail woman gets two glazed and retreats to her USPS van to enjoy her purchase. We order three donuts – a Cinnamon, a Strawberry-frosted, and a Maple Bar (while Banbury is supposedly known for their double blueberry variety, consisting of a blueberry cake donut topped with blueberry frosting, we don’t spot any behind the counter – the Donut-Lady looks at us like we’re crazy when we inquire about them and says “Maybe we don’t make them anymore” - so we’re not exactly sure what the Blueberry situation is).

The best thing about Banbury’s donuts is their tremendous size – their ringed varieties are nearly twice the height of a DD or KK offering. But their quality doesn’t end with just stature, their flavor is super-good as well. The Cinnamon is a yeast-raised ring topped with a cinnamon/sugar crumb mixture which we think comes from Aunt Jemima coffee-cake mix (remember the ones in the little rectangular paper tray?) – if not, it’s a near perfect knock-off. This Nut was truly amazing. In addition to the sure fire delicousness of the crumbs, the dough was soft and stretchy, almost like a fresh, hot bagel, but much easier to chew. The Strawberry had a similar consistency and the perfect amount of berry-flavor. The maple bar, though tasty, was hard and dry – mainly because we accidentally left it on the air conditioner vent in our hotel room all night. We decided it wouldn’t be fair to judge this Nut.

We left SLC happy to have discovered this Donut-Temple, tucked away in a salty valley and nestled between rocky mountains.

Donut Scores:

Cinnamon - 9.3
Strawberry Frosted - 8.8
Maple Bar - NA

Morman temple, Temple Square

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Renegade Craft Nut

This past Saturday, Blognut hit the Renegade Craft Fair in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Despite the fair billing itself as "renegade," the general indie-craft asthetic seemed to consist only of things made out of fabric and stamped with one of the following images:

1) sparrow
2) whale
3) owl
4) squirrel
5) deer

Breaking from the mold was arts and crafts seamstress My Paper Crane (Heidi Kenney), who sews up plush edibles such as cupcakes, burnt toast, and many donut varieties. We went home with what we can only assume is a chocolate-frosted cake Nut.

By the way, our crafty pal Petite Pomme could definitely have kicked everyone's ass at the Renegade Fair.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sammy's Donut Corner

461 6th Avenue
New York, NY

A few months ago Blognut took our friend Dr. Rod to Sammy's Noodle Shop in the Village for a bite. The place was hectic and stressful but operated with assembly line efficiency. After dinner we walked up 6th Avenue past the seemingly endless string of dining rooms, take out windows, and kitchens that comprise the majority of Sammy's space and were met with a nice surprise - a small donut and coffee counter sitting quietly at the end of this half-block long noodle-factory.

Sammy's Donut Corner is subtle - a miniscule store-front easily overlooked by those passing by. Despite the name, most of their rack space is filled with cakes, muffins, and bagels, but looming behind the counter is a small shelf of Sammy's freshly made donuts.

The menu is pretty standard, with jelly-filled and glazed varieties topping the list. But what Sammy's lacks in store size and donut selection, they more than make up for in taste. Today Blognut arrives at Sammy's at 6 PM for a pre-dinner donut. They only have three left, two jelly-filled and a whole wheat glazed. We order the glazed, and, to the cashier's dismay, pay in all nickels and pennies (sorry Donut-Lady, we were out of paper money). Unfortunately, due to a prior engagement, we were forced to enjoy our purchase on the go (but nothing compliments a brisk walk to the F train like a hearty glazed donut!).

The whole wheat glazed was super-thick, moist, and delicous. While most glazed cake Nuts rely on the sweetness of the glaze itself to provide much of the flavor, Sammy's offering was packed with cinnamon goodness - so much so that we almost forgot about the glaze. The whole wheat dough held the flavors together nicely and helped create a complex taste not usually found in standard cake-donut issue. Sammy's definitely proved themselves worthy competition to their equally delicous neighbor The Donut Pub.

For the full Sammy's-Experience, try a side of noodles with your donut.

Donut Score - 9.5

Monday, June 12, 2006

Blognut Like Spudnuts

Once a national franchise, Spudnuts doughnut and coffee shop (often called the Spudnut Shop) now exists as a handful of west coast locations and one eastern-rep in Charlottesville, Virginia - which, incidently, is our favorite doughnut dealer. Spudnuts take their name from the potato flour in their dough and helped keep Blognut satisfied for the four years we spent in Charlottesville. You could imagine our elation when we scored this vintage Spudnuts coffee mug on Ebay last month. For a more extensive Spudnut exploration, see Blognut's previous write-up on this magnificant establishment.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Shaking Hands with Mister Donut

This will be the first post in a two-part series discussing culturally significant donut chains from years past – an idea inspired by our recent acquisition of two vintage, donut-themed coffee mugs. The first installment will focus on the rise and fall of one of the greatest donut empires in American history – Mister Donut.

Primed by years of experience running Industrial Luncheon Services, a Boston-based company providing lunch and snacks to local factory workers, William Rosenberg founded the Open Kettle donut shop in 1948. Two years later he changed the name of his Quincy, Massachusetts-based store to Dunkin Donuts.

In 1955, after much Donut-Success, Rosenberg signed his first DD franchise contract – a move not supported by his partner/brother-in-law Harry Winokur. Rosenberg ended up buying Winokur out, and, as you know, went on to build the most successful Donut-Retailer in history. Not long after the family feud, in what was most likely a jealous bid in response to his brother-in-law’s success, Winokur founded his own donut chain, Mister Donut. Apparently his aversion to franchising was fleeting, since over the next 15 years Mister Donut became the second largest donut franchise in America, second to you-know-who. In 1970 Winokur sold his life’s work to the Minnesota-based food giant International Multifoods.

By the 1980’s MD had over 550 stores in the US and Canada and was still enjoying their second place position – but not for long. In 1990, the English corporate giant Allied-Lyons plc purchased Dunkin Donuts from Rosenberg for a reported £196 million. In some sort of beautiful, corporate, familial-closure, immediately after becoming a subsidiary of Allied-Lyons, DD exercised even more capitalist greed and put in a bid to acquire Mister Donut from International Multifoods. Mister Donut stores were then offered the option of taking on a Dunkin-Identity if they wished, which a majority did given the wider recognition of the DD brand.

Today, Mister Donut survives mostly in Asia, with a heavy presence in Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines (the Japanese company Duskin Co. Ltd. acquired franchising rights to MD in 1983). With the exception of a handful of stores in Ontario, North America has become completely Dunkinized.

Blognut would like to raise our coffee mug in honor of the legendary Mister Donut.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Blognut Book Club

Recommended reading:

Donuts: An American Passion

by John T. Edge

As the fourth installment in food/travel writer John T. Edge's series on American food icons, Donuts: An American Passion takes a deeper look at the fried obsession that inspired the creation of Blognut. Sharing the stage with such legendary American staples as the hamburger, apple pie, and fried chicken, the donut has finally recieved the cultural admiration it deserves. While Donuts has not found a spot on the New York Times Bestsellers List (an oversight which Blognut feels is a result of the American public's guilt toward their uncontrollable love of the donut, and the refusal to indulge in any sort of intellectual discourse on the subject), it has helped elevate the donut's status as a significant piece of edible American history.

Blognut's comprehensive review of Donuts: An American Passion is forthcoming.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Happy Doughnut Day!

In honor of National Doughnut Day (June 2nd), participating Krispy Kremes will be doling out free doughnuts!

In case you didn’t already know, National Doughnut Day is always celebrated on the first Friday in June. The holiday was originally meant to honor the Salvation Army “Lassies” who were sent to the front lines during WWI to provide soldiers with doughnuts (among other home-cooked comfort foods). Other than military personal, the Lassies were the only women allowed to visit the front lines during the war. Rather than lug deep fryers with them, they would often cook the doughnuts inside soldier’s helmets – simply genius!

There is even a song honoring these brave Salvation Army volunteers. So join Blognut in a round of “Don’t Forget the Salvation Army (My Doughnut Girl).”