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The Donut: Canadian icon or over-rated?


the g-man
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Growing up in a small town, there was a donut shop on almost every corner. It was part of everyday life. Kids skipped school to hang out at the donut shop. A donut and coffee was breakfast for most people. Bob and Doug McKenzie enshrined the donut into Canadian culture on SCTV.

Now the Tim Horton’s chain is opening new locations across B.C. faster than Starbuck’s in the late ‘90s.

Do you love the donut, or do you think its over-hyped? If you love it, where are B.C.'s best donuts? Before weighing in to disrespect the donut, consider the art that the donut can be at its best - not the mass-produced frozen ones but the soft sweet cloud of sweetness at Lee’s Donuts on Granville Island.

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Overrated.

I'm not sure how Donuts and Coffee became the norm but I don't find it that good. I mean it's sugery and addictive but yeah...doesn't do it for me.

Then again I don't drink Coffee and I'm diabetic so go figure :)

"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

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I love doughnuts!

I used to eat quite a few Dunkin' Donuts in Montreal back when. Timmy's have gotten worse, IMO, since they centralized production...and if you're lucky enough to get 'em fresh, it's OK, but if not, bleah.

Lee's are quite nice.

I had a Krispy Kreme once and nearly went into diabetic shock...scary!

If I had to choose one breakfast pastry overall, I'd have a hard hard choice between a good, fresh croissant aux amandes like I used to get in Montréal; a cheese Danish like I used to get in Philadelphia; and a really good, gooey bear claw with almonds on top. A real bear claw, like they have at The Bay's bakery, IIRC, not these insipid things from Timmy's. What are those things? they're sort of fritters, they sure ain't no bear claws.

Oh, an honourable mention to the savoury choice for *any* meal of the day: a hot, fresh St-Viateur sesame bagel spread with salmon mousse from the fish market on Ave du Parc.

Agenda-free since 1966.

Foodblog: Power, Convection and Lies

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Fresser from the Heartland here...

I too learned of Canadian doughnuts from that intrepid duo of Doug and Bob Mackenzie.

Coo-roo-coo-coo, coo-roo-coo-coo!

It would be nice to see a Tim Horton's sprout here in the Midwest and root out these Krisky Kreme sugar-bomb factories.

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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I never discriminate against a pastry (I consider a donut to be a blue collar pastry). If it's tasty and goes well with my coffee I'm there.

I have always loved a good donut - from Lee's excellent every day variety to Mark Israel's Donut Plant donuts in New York (some made with Valharona chocolate and some with gold flakes and rose petals) -and when travelling will go out of my way to find good donuts as much as I would check out a great bakery.

Timmy Ho's and Krispy Kreme are not in this category with Horton's being just boringly average and KK's too sweet and once they've cooled down are terrible.

Lee's, on the other hand, has somehow taken what looks like a storebought mix and turns out donuts that are so well made : perfectly crisp on the outside with an almost creamy moistness inside without a hint of artificial flavouring. Alvin, the donut maker from Monday to Friday is a large part of that I'll bet.

Try asking for a warm glaze when they are available. My current favourite with my morning coffee is the Dutch Crumb (which I just finished!).

Somewhere, back in the files a year or so is another donut thread but not much has changed in Vancouver since then ..... that merits talking about.

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I have to say that the timing is the most important thing with donuts. I definitely prefer a donut within a few minutes of coming out of the fryer. By that definition, the Krispy Kreme donuts have an edge. However, I can think of better ways to spend my time than standing in line at KK waiting for a hot, out of the fryer doughnut.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I do wonder if the donut thing is partly nostalgia -- as someone who grew up in the States, nothing in my mind beats a Krispy Kreme. Back when I was young, there were no stores where I lived -- you could only get them boxed at the grocery -- and they were the cheapest, which is likely why my parents bought them. Now are they the best? Surely not. But for me, they are. Nostalgia wins in this category.

Food Lover -- nothing more, nothing less
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Love a good donut. The ones at Nutana Bakery in Saskatoon were worth the trip across the bridge. Huge and covered in an oh-so fake but yummy chocolate glaze. Then they also had the hard little chocolate chip cookies made with icing sugar so that they almost hurt your teeth when you ate them.

Don't like Tim Horton's so much anymore. Someone told me that they were baked now instead of deep-fried and that they don't make them in each store, but have them delivered. Don't know this for a fact. (TH please don't sue.)

Gonna lose a lot of cred here, (though I didn't start with much), but the donuts at 7-11 are pretty good. Deep-fried and sugar-glazed. They're hefty, like there's some real weight to them. Really hope it's not all oil.

Edit: Is the Donut Canadian? Tim Horton's definitely is a Canadian Icon but they sell more soup and sandwiches now than donuts. Do we consume more donuts than any other country? Wasn't the donut a European invention? Gonna consult the Oxford.

The coffee from TH always reminds me of a road-trip. Love it when I get into a cab after work and the cabbie's drinking a cuppa Timmy's. Takes me back. That's my TH Canadian Icon.

IMO the donut is not over-rated. Just have to be selective about them now-a-days.

Edited by Bubbalicious (log)

Bob McLeod

VOX BACCULUS HIC VADIS IN VITRIO JUBILIAM

The road goes on forever and the party never ends

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Honey Dougnuts in Deep Cove.  MMMMMM Chocolate Rolly Polly! :wub:

A.

How could I forget about Honey's Doughnuts? They are literally 5 minutes from my house. In the Cold Doughnut Category, my vote also goes for Honey's. Extra points for having their own unique take on the traditional donut.

Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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When I was but a wee kitten, mama and papa cat would do their grocery shopping at the Woodward's Food Hall and would pacify my little cart-bound self with a pink iced doughnut from the bakery. I think the icing was some sort of faux strawberry concoction, and was fairly close to hot pink in colour. The doughnut was plain old fried round dough, no fillings or anything. I have very fond memories of this doughnut, and I dream of the day we are reunited. :wub:

I would dearly love to find my pink iced doughnut in this town again. Any tips?

Jenn

"She's not that kind of a girl, Booger!"

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i eat about 1.5 donuts a year but occasionally friends bring them to us at the cafe. they buy them at lee's.

i believe in donuts, or half donuts, with black, french press coffee. blissful union.

1 million pigs can't be wrong.

Drew Johnson

bread & coffee

i didn't write that book, but i did pass 8th grade without stress. and i'm a FCAT for sure.

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I've always liked the quick Donna Hay tip of getting a fry pan really hot, and placing a sugar-covered donut (not powdered, just the regular cheap ol' Safeway lightly sugar-glazed works) in the centre of the pan. Flatten hard with a spatula, the bottom of a plate, whatever. Once the edges carmelize and the bottom's crispy, flip it over and repeat.

A crispy, carmelized taste sensation in less than a minute!

Mmm-boy! :wub:

k.

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All this donut talk brings back fond memories of the hypnotizing automated donut-making machine at the long-gone Woodward's food floor.

Memo

Ríate y el mundo ríe contigo. Ronques y duermes solito.

Laugh, and the world laughs with you. Snore, and you sleep alone.

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All this donut talk brings back fond memories of the hypnotizing automated donut-making machine at the long-gone Woodward's food floor.

Memo

They used to have one of those at Costco in Abbotsford...mesmerizing. They removed it to make room for more premade salad or some such schlock that I will never purchase. Grrrrrr.

Woodward's Fine Foods still makes some pretty decent doughnuts, but we only make them once or twice a year on very special occasions. Of course Woodward's Fine Foods is my kitchen, and when I say we, I mean my husband and myself...

But we are the Woodwards, and the food is very fine, so I lay claim to the name :laugh:

Don't try to win over the haters. You're not the jackass whisperer."

Scott Stratten

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My vote goes for Lee's on GI - a warm honey dip on a cold day - mmmmm... and the bonus is I'm not hungry again for about 8 hours. In a pinch, Duffin's Donuts on 33rd and Main, when I don't feel like driving across town. A must try is the old fashioned with custard. Don't have to eat for about 12 hours after that one...

Anybody who believes that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach flunked geography.

~ Robert Byrne

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A few years back, Steve Penfold from York University (now at U of T, I think), wrote his Ph.D. thesis on the social life of donuts. A big chunk of it was on Tim Hortons. Though much panned, (it won the 1999 Ig Nobel award for sociology) it is a pretty good look at how a donut shop/chain has formed the basis of Canadian identity.

Ironically, though, Tim Ho's is now a brand of Wendy's International, Inc. fifth in the world in revenues for fast food outlets. In my opinion, there's not much difference between having a tim ho's donut and eating a McDonald's cheeseburger. One's sweet, one's savoury, but the effect is equally destructive in terms of building a fast food nation.

I vote for Lee's!

Q.

Quentin Kayne

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I also vote for over-rated. Krispy Kreme especially, although that's not even a Canadian institution.

We were driving back from a Seahawks game a couple years ago, and got sucked into the Krispy Kreme exit. Then we were further sucked into trying one fresh off the line. It was just a lump of warmed-over sugar and fat, but it was really good (after all those MGDs, go figure). And it made me buy another 6 to take home. With the help of my now-wife, over a good 2-3 days, we proceeded to eat 3 of those donuts. They were frikkin grody. Tossed the rest.

I always remember that woman who walked out with literally a stack of boxes, 5 dozen donuts. ***WTF***!?! Got a bee colony, do you?!

However, in my youth (and when Tim Hortons were made locally), I would most definitely be up for a couple choc glazed or a box of Timbits, plus over-sugared coffee. And nowadays I will every once in a while eat at Lee's.

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I also vote for over-rated. Krispy Kreme especially, although that's not even a Canadian institution.

My Krispy Kreme experience was this spring, in Calgary. My family of four, and my sister's family of 5. Two dozen. Easy enough!! They might as well have been selling crack.

No one has mentioned Robin's Donuts. When I was in Jr. High, my oldest sister had a part-time job, graveyard at a Robin's. They had some kind of "arrangement" where staff could take home whatever 'day olds' they wanted. For a brief few months before she sobered up :wink: I would find donuts in my grade 8 lunch bag. I think my Mom did this just to keep me out of the local Safeway at lunchtime. They were great for the first few days, but I recall most of them were traded for Johnny Zee's tokens. :raz:

-- Matt.

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