When the subject is doughnuts, gourmet or otherwise, everyone has their own idea of what makes a good doughnut, and everyone has something to say on the matter. As doughnut author Paul Mullins pointed out in Friday’s column, some people like the artisanal ingredients and ambitious flavors of gourmet doughnuts, while others prefer the familiarity and reassurance of doughnuts from their favorite grocery store or bakery (or, as one of our writers noted, their corner drugstore).
To demonstrate the expansiveness of the doughnut universe, we asked some of our writers, coworkers, friends, and others to offer their doughnuts of choice. Knowing our writers, we were ready for anything. We just weren’t ready for this much anything.
Go ahead and add to this list, because the deeper we get into the doughnut universe, the more we feel like we’ve been sucked into – say it with us – a black hole.
Bill Ballew, Asheville, N.C.: My favorite doughnuts are the glazed yeast variety, and no one makes them better than Carolina Mountain Bakery. Made fresh every morning with yeast that’s never frozen, these delectable delights are never oily and never overblown with empty air pockets. The sugary glaze and hint of nutmeg make the taste buds happy to do their job. And with no preservatives (because preservatives = calories), there’s no guilt in eating ‘em when you get ‘em.
Paul Mullins, Indianapolis: My favorite local doughnut shop is Long’s Doughnuts, an Indianapolis doughnut place that has been around since the 1950s.
Jim Fox, New York City: This is SO trailer-park, but I love it: the Entenmann’s Chocolate-Covered Two-Pack. It’s an impulse purchase right next to the cash register at my NYC drugstore, and I get the impulse almost every time. Throw the package in the freezer, and when a morning craving arrives, put one on a plate and set it on the coffeemaker. By the time the coffee’s done, the doughnut’s defrosted. You’re welcome.
Dana Vanden Boogart, Appleton, Wis.: For me it’s Manderfield’s. It opens at 5 a.m., and you have to get there early to get your favorites. I still remember my dad walking to Manderfield’s from our house on Saturday mornings to buy my me and my sister triple-chocolate doughnuts. Manderfield’s is famous for its triple-chocolates, but everything’s good – even the humble long john.
Jimmy Buffett, Somewhere in the Caribbean: Coffee is strong at the Café du Monde; doughnuts are too hot to touch. But just like a fool, when those sweet goodies cool, I eat ‘til I eat way too much.
Jim McLauchlin, Los Angeles: As a native Minnesotan, I’m really a South Canadian. So I’m reverent of Tim Horton’s. Tim Horton’s is The Great Crossroads of Canada. It’s where the banker rubs elbows with the hobo, and the octogenarian sits at a counter next to the ’tween under the benevolent virtual gaze of Tim, who was, of course, a hockey player. There’s nothing artisanal about Tim Horton’s. The doughnuts are dense, workmanlike, and always tasty. The Honey Dip and the Canadian Maple are the way to go for me, but Tim welcomes all. Even the artsy-doughnut types.
Kit Kiefer, Plover, Wis.: It depends where I am. In Portland it’s either the semi-legendary Voodoo Doughnut or Blue Star Donuts. Voodoo has long lines at weird hours (walk right in at 8 a.m. Monday; wait an hour at 2 p.m.) and an underground-comix aesthetic; Blue Star has a West Coast-cool ambiance, and my friend Jenn waxes poetic over the elusive crème-brûlée doughnut. Chicago, it’s Do-Rite, the Randolph Street location. Minneapolis, it’s Glam Doll. In Madison, it’s a Danish from Clasen’s European Bakery. But I still shed big salty tears for the blueberry-filled thingamabobs from the long-departed Luck Bakery.
Mike Lintal, Chicago: In Chicago, I choose Doughnut Vault. A great doughnut has to be fresh and simple, with a moderate amount of pizazz. Doughnut Vault’s Buttermilk Old Fashioned is perfectly sweet and creamy with the right amount of “twang” from the buttermilk. The Gingerbread Stack (that’s three doughnuts, y’all) is all crunch outside and softness within, liberally dusted with cinnamon and sugar. The pillowy glazed doughnut offers multiple flavor options, but a warm Chestnut and a $1 cup of coffee is a veteran move.
In Charleston (S.C., not W.V.) it’s the Diggity Doughnut Truck. Like Sasquatch, catching Diggity Doughnut in the wild takes a little luck and a lot of time on the Internet. Once you zero in on a location, these sweet treats don’t disappoint your appetite or imagination. Diggity’s a master at balancing flavors; e.g., the Nutty Rooster (creamy peanut butter and sriracha hot sauce) and the Salty Spud (chocolate frosting with crushed potato chips).
 No, we didn’t actually talk to Jimmy Buffett. It’s a lyric from “The Wino and I Know.”