Doughnut-ology: The Hierarchical Study of Donut Quality

Derek Westra
Jun 3, 2017 · 4 min read

“Donut Snob.” I get that a lot. Often when I meet someone new and introduce myself, they say, “Oh, I’ve heard of you — you’re a donut guy. Kind of donut snob, right?”


To set the record straight, the terms I prefer are “donut-fan” “donut connoisseur,” or “donut aficionado,” although I’ve met people who are much more deserving of these delicious titles.

I’m simply a lover of all things raised and glazed, frosted and filled, irrespective of color, shape, size, or orientation. I am an equal opportunity donut eater — and I do in fact eat ALL of them.

However, I have developed a framework for assessing the quality of our fried friends. Just like anything in life, there is your “get-er-done” donut, and your “I’m willing to wake up early and stand in line in my pajamas before they sell-out” experience.

With that context, I humbly share the hierarchical study of donut quality:

I’ll explain:

Donut Boutiques: At the top of the quality hierarchy are donut boutiques. These are shops that exclusively sell donuts. They don’t mess around with cupcakes or cookies — they are purists. These are the shops that have lines out the door before 7:00. They are the best, and are so far above even the next layer of the hierarchy that they don’t really compare.

Donut Chains: Dunkin, Krispy Kreme, Dunford. These are factories. They also exclusively make donuts, but they are production lines. They span states and have many locations. These can be very good, but the personal touch and love is often lost. If you’ve seen “You’ve Got Mail” (and who hasn’t?) these are the Fox Books, to the above “Shop Around the Corner.” Is this where I hand in my man-card?

Bakeries: Most bakeries don’t even attempt donuts. Cookies and cakes are easier and last longer on the shelf — but the best bakeries, those that are run by real talent just can’t help themselves. If you find one that makes house-made donuts, you are in luck.

Grocery-Store Bakeries: Safeway, Harmons, Maceys, Albertsons, Reams, etc. This is the most controversial category because people can become very loyal to their grocery store donuts — but unfortunately these people have typically never had a top-quality donut to compare it to. Nostalgia plays an important role here. People often have fond memories of certain stores they grew up with, and that can make these middle-of-the road donuts taste wonderful. :)

Gas-Station Donuts: Texaco, Maverik, Cheveron. You stop in for a fill up, and you walk out with a maple bar or bear claw. These donuts are actually okay as they typically come that morning from a local chain like Dunford, or Krispy Kreme. But, in the end, you’re eating a pastry you bought in a gas-station, so…

Vending Machine Donuts: At the bottom of the hierarchy are pre-packaged donettes. Crumble, chocolate cake, or powdered sugar. Those are typically your only three options. These are filled with preservatives and made to last. They may have been in there a week or two before being freed from their glass prison by your $1.25. This is your “get-er-done” donut, on a rough day.

In summary, I eat ANY and ALL donuts. Regularly. I have the waistline to prove it. A donut snob I am not. A donut aficionado I long to be. :)

As I live in Utah, I’ve been asked many times what my top 10 list for Utah donuts is. I’ll preface this by stating that I’m a sucker for Maple Bars, so I’ve tried to discount that by choosing non-maple bars (even though that is my donut of choice almost everywhere).

A huge disclaimer is that I live in Utah County and work in Salt Lake County, so my donut selections tend to revolve around those two areas. I’m certain there are amazing shops in Davis, Weber, Summit, Wasatch, and other counties, I just don’t get out there as often.

So here is my top 10 list, along with the donut I recommend from each (along with a maple bar)

Here goes:

Number 1: Banbury Cross — Maple Bar, Cinnamon Sugar

Number 2: My Sugars — Blueberry Cake

Number 3: Fresh Donut and Deli — Maple Glazed

Number 4: Lehi Bakery — Square Original Glazed

Number 5: Dunford Donuts — Chocolate Chocolate

Number 6: Avenue Bakery — Apple Fritter

Number 7: Elaine’s Fresh Bakery — “Cro-nut”

Number 8: Beyond Glaze — Maple Bacon, and Cappuccino

Number 9: Daylight Donut — Blueberry Glazed

Number 10: Jack’s Donuts — Strawberry Frosted

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