With a Dunkin' Donuts on almost every corner, it is safe to say that the doughnut has become a staple food in the American culture: anything that is fried, can be made into a sandwich with ice cream, and somehow incorporates bacon. The doughnut unites all three, and has evolved into an art form far surpassing its simple origins.

Where It All Began

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Emma Fein

The doughnut came from the Dutch in the mid-19th century and was praised for its comfort and fried glory. They were originally called “olykoeks,” or oily cakes, fried in pork fat and stuffed with nuts to compensate for its sometimes undercooked inside.

Eventually, the pilgrims from Holland brought this delicacy to America. So, how come we praise Dunkin' Donuts and not Otto’s Olykoeks? 

Similar to Kim and Kanye’s baby North West, the origin of the doughnut’s name is ambiguous. Just as North West is a cardinal direction, dough and nuts were two ingredients used to make doughnuts. A rocket scientist or person already foreshadowing our current day abbreviated text language must have called the enchanting pastry "the doughnut." Its shape is the perfect solution, not to a geometry problem, but to its uncooked center. 

In WWI, a group of women called “Doughnut Girls” gave American soldiers doughnuts at war. These doughnuts stood as a symbol of their lives, love, and comfort at home and was used to fuel their tenacity, motivation, and success in the war ahead. Since then, the doughnut has carried its charisma onto the path that has lead it to become the American icon it is today. 

The Origins of Dunkin' Donuts

chocolate, doughnut, cream, sweet, candy
Elena Bailoni

Dunkin' Donuts was founded in 1950 by William Rosenberg. He used the money he earned selling war bonds in WWII, borrowed more money from relatives, and used taxicabs as a delivery service to start his first launch. If  this was modern day, the Uber App emoji would maybe have a donut on it.

When he realized that almost half his income came from only coffee and doughnuts, he understood that he would change not only the spelling, but also the “doughnut" as we knew it forever.

Dunkin' Donuts now has over 6,000 locations in 30 different countries. In the 70's, Dunkin' Donuts started the concept of specialty donuts with their Easter egg-dipped donut pastries.

They were egg-shaped, dipped in chocolate and sprinkles, and came in their own egg carton. They were as aesthetically pleasing as an Easter egg, with a surprise much better than that of an Easter egg: a succulent, rich doughy taste. 

21st Century Doughnuts 

1. Doughnut Plant

doughnut, cake, bagel, chocolate
Emma Fein

With locations in Chelsea, the Lower East Side, Brooklyn and Queens, these doughnuts are “handcrafted every day using the finest ingredients available.” Doughnut Plant is home to the square jelly-filled doughnut. So be there or be square. Why? Because they are not around. 

There are yeast doughnuts, cake doughnuts, and filled doughnuts. The filled doughnuts break down into subcategories: the original square yeast doughnut, signatures (Blackout, Tres Leches, and Carrot Cake), and doughseeds (mini round filled doughnuts). The Doughseeds flavors include Rose, Hazelnut Chocolate, Matcha Green Tea, Peanut Butter & Blackberry Jam, Pistachio, Strawberry & Cream, and Wild Blueberry & Cream. 

The list does not end there, and they make specials as well, so keep your tastebuds ready every time you go in. Doughnut Plant is known for its incredible array of flavors, and twists on the classics. They recognize that ordinary is boring, and make their doughnuts extraordinary.

2. Voodoo Doughnuts

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Emma Fein

Did you ever think you would see bacon, Fruit Loops, sprinkles, frosting, and fried dough in a box? Voodoo Doughnuts defies doughnut stereotypes and dresses its donuts up in toppings both sweet and savory.

Starting in Portland Oregon, Voodoo Doughnuts has expanded to Denver, Colorado; Austin, Texas; and Taipei City, Taiwan. The mixing and matching of different colors, textures, and the pattern of the doughnuts in the box create a great artistic composition. 

Some of their flavors include Bacon Maple Bar doughnut (raised yeast doughnut with maple frosting on top), The Loop doughnut, and Memphis Mafia doughnut (fried dough with banana chunks and cinnamon covered in a glaze with chocolate frosting, peanut butter, peanuts and chocolate chips on top).

The Tex-Ass Challenge doughnut is equivalent in size to six of their doughnuts and if you can eat it in 80 seconds or less, you get your money back! This artistic evolution is also seen in the crumbs of the devouring process.

3. Holey Cream

sprinkles, cream, chocolate, candy, cake, sweet
Emma Fein

Holey Cream, located in NYC, truly is a holy experience. The customer is the artist and the doughnut is his or her canvas. As you go down the line, selecting different ice cream flavors for the base, and picking out a frosting flavor and toppings, it brings your masterpiece to life. The final finish is when you press the warm doughnut down on the cold ice cream, letting the ice cream melt. 

I don’t know about you, but I feel like I need to go get some doughnuts because I feel hungry from all this doughnut talk. So, whether you chose your local Dunkin' Donuts or a small doughnut cafe, they all contribute to the innovation of food as art. The donut box is a gallery, but this art work is a feast for the mouth as well as the eye.