There is nothing better than bread and sugar, especially when it's fried. That’s the premise behind Donut Fest, the festival that honors one of the world’s most beloved foods. The competition is held annually in Chicago as well as Cleveland, featuring local donut makers. As organizer Rebecca Skoch said, “Almost every person from every culture has some kind of fried dough they grew up eating. That’s why we love to celebrate donuts in particular.”

Chicago's 2020 Donut Fest event was held in Wicker Park’s Chop Shop. Attendees were given samples of each donut and voted at the end for their favorite. Coffee from businesses located in the city was also served. 

I took my role as an unofficial judge very seriously, sampling and rating each donut along the way. Here are my official rankings:

1. Roeser’s Maple Bacon Donut

Roeser’s maple bacon donut is an odd pick for first place, considering this flavor combination has been overused by hipsters in every corner of America. But, this donut was absolutely delicious. It perfectly combined sweet, savory and smoky flavors. The donut had a simple vanilla glaze, cream filling and a small piece of maple bacon on top. They were also petite, and I love petite things.

2. Downstate’s Apple Cider Donut

Downstate’s donut impressed me before I even knew the most impressive thing about the donut. The apple cider flavor wasn’t overbearing and the cinnamon sugar dusting added a nice extra sweetness. But then I found out that the donut was actually made of potatoes. I was astounded. The craftsmanship, ingenuity and excellent taste made this donut a sure second place.

3. Gurnee’s PB&J and Potato Chips Donut

Gurnee’s donut won the prize for most creative, which it most certainly was. When I first saw the flavor -- peanut butter, jelly and potato chips -- I was completely turned off. I dreaded trying the donut. But low and behold, it was actually delicious. While it was not the donut I would turn to first, I was so impressed by the creativity that I gave this donut third place.

4. Stan’s Mexican Hot Chocolate Donut

I am probably Stan’s biggest fan. I love the pink branding, coffee and donuts from this Chicago staple. This donut left me slightly underwhelmed though. While delicious, it was advertised as a Mexican hot chocolate donut featuring Cayenne pepper. The chocolate was certainly there, and the donut even had a cute marshmallow garnish. But, it was entirely lacking Cayenne pepper, which I was very much looking forward to.

5. Ann's Flavored Cheesecake's Grape Cheesecake

Flavored cheesecake sounds like something out of an amusement park food stand. But this flavored cheesecake was homemade and delectable. Five different flavors were featured along with the prize-winning grape. The best part of Ann’s Flavored was the family business aspect; owners Louis and Donna and their three kids served up the slices.

6. D&D's Cake Donut

While D&D's was the big winner of the night, I found the donut underwhelming. It was delicious and certainly made with love, but the donut wasn’t unique in any way. There wasn’t necessarily anything wrong with it. Rather, it paled in comparison to other unique flavors.

7. Dip and Sip's Chocolate Raspberry Donut

Dip and Sip’s donut was absolutely beautiful with a pink glaze, chocolate stripes and white sprinkles. Yet, the chocolate taste was so overpowering... I couldn’t even finish it.

Maria Aragon

When Chicago's Donut Fest rolls around in 2021, I highly suggest you attend. You'll leave full and on a sugar high, which is just the way it should be.