Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Most Important Frosted Mini Donut Taste-Test Of All Time (Also Possibly The Only Frosted Mini Donut Taste Test Of All Time)

Well, hellooooo, friends who succumbed to my insane social media pressure to click on this link. Since I've been AWOL since late December, I don't expect that many people are refreshing the ol' SaCu (which is a nickname I just made up, pronounced sack-uh) on the regular anymore.

But that all changes now. Because I just ate 30 mini frosted donettes and I'm here to tell the tale.

Why, you ask?

I guess I could say it's for the good of humanity, and that I just want my fellow wo/man's each and every frosted mini donut experience to reach the pinnacle of its incredible potential. But really, I finished my first draft of Unabrow and I'm waiting for notes and I have nothing better to do. Incidentally this may also be why I've been conducting late-night searches for "Reality Bites outfit" and "crop tops for middle age" on Etsy.

I have long had a love affair with frosted mini donuts. I think it's because they combine chocolate and smallness. I find smallness to be key in my ideal binge-eating experience, because the smaller a foodstuff is, the more of it you can eat without coming off as totally disgusting. It's a special mind trick, both for yourself and for others. Like, if I eat two King-size Twix bars, I feel like Jabba the Hut, but I can eat eighteen miniature Twix bars and maintain the illusion that I am a delicate flower.

The same principle applies to donuts. Normal-sized donuts aren't bad--not by a long shot--but mini donuts are fucking cute. Just look at them; how could a sweet little nibble like that cause heart disease or obesity? They're like kittens, except even more adorable:

My inspirational poster, forthcoming on Etsy.
Now, yes, I know I could have just stuffed my face in private and shut up about it, but in my planning I realized that my pointless gluttony might just be legitimized if it were presented as a "blog post" rather than a "cry for help." (Also, I can write off the $14.94 I spent on materials. Stickin' it to the man!!)

Oh, and you know what else legitimizes it? Lab report format. BOOM.

1) Which brand of rich frosted (i.e. chocolate-drenched) mini cake donut is best; 2) Can 150 grams of sugar and 45 grams of saturated fat consumed over a ten minute period cure my Seasonal Affective Disorder?

1) They probably all taste pretty much the same, meaning unbearably delicious; 2) Maybe? At the very least I should get sleepy.

  • 1 sleeve Hostess Frosted Donettes
  • 1 bag Little Debbie Mini Frosted Donuts
  • 1 bag Tastykake Rich Frosted Mini Donuts
  • 1 box Entenmann's Rich Frosted Mini Donuts
  • 1 sleeve Entenmann's frosted donuts (different! smaller!)
  • 1 bag Nice! Frosted Mini Donuts
  • Milk (palate cleanser)
  • Posterboard
  • Knife
  • Jeff (optional)
  • Ruler
  • Pen
  • Ennui
  • Shame
Wait, scratch that last item. I forgot to bring shame.

I stored the donuts in the fridge until all brands were present and accounted for. (Full disclosure, there are other brands of frosted mini donut--notably Freihofer's, Mrs. Freshley's, and a few obscure smaller companies with names like Bunny and Dolly and Lady Linda--but I stopped short of ordering them online; I only used brands I could find locally, because apparently my particular brand of food fetishism has city limits.) I allowed them to come to room temperature, and then had Jeff place the donuts on an arena I had pre-prepared so that I wouldn't be bringing any of my preconceived notions or prejudices about our nation's larger baked goods chains into my super scientific analysis.

As may be obvious from the title, I took it super seriously.
But after consuming five donuts I realized there was a sixth brand I'd forgotten in the fridge, so I had to re-do the whole thing. Because, science.

(This one has more of a noir feel because I had to wait until nightfall, after Sam had gone to sleep, because if he saw me eating "assert" without him, he would have lost his damn mind.)

Anyway, first, I took physical measurements and notes on external appearance. For this segment of the experiment I pretended I was Mariska Hargitay on Law & Order: SVU, examining a body.

Next, I cut each donut in half and observed the inner cake. Using milk in between bites, I used one half of each donut to conduct independent taste tests of frosting and cake and recorded my notes. I then ate the other halves of the donuts in order to judge the taste as a whole. Then I ate all of the remaining donuts while watching Parks & Recreation on Hulu and drinking wine.

[Imagine Barry White playing]
In giving each donut a score, I took into account size (smaller being better for reasons stated above), beauty, the flavor/quality of the frosting, and the flavor/quality of the cake, and the crucial, final, mouthfeel and taste of everything together. I also did some serious reflection on my priorities, but chose not to write those notes down.


Here is a purely mathematical presentation of my findings on a scale of 1 to 6, with 1 being the best and 6 being the worst:

But the true Mathletes among you may realize that the averages don't add up; in other words, I based my final, overall rankings not on the numbers, but on a certain je ne sais quoi otherwise known as my mouthbrain.

I will now defend my choices, in reverse order.

#6: Entenmann's, small version
I had high hopes for these, first of all because I just assume Entenmann's is fancy--Why, though? Why is this? You can find them in every echelon of grocery store, from Stop & Shop to my local bodega, the one which is filled 10 am to midnight with middle-aged men smoking cigarettes indoors while playing the scratch-off lotto. How did Entenmann's fool me into hero worship?--and also because they were hands down the most attractive donuts of the bunch, perfectly round with a cute, sphincter-y hole and evenly coated with thick, dark frosting. Unfortunately, the individual taste tests revealed that said frosting was sweet but had almost no discernible chocolate. The cake was also bland city. And for some reason, when combined the donut had a weird, off-putting flavor that I couldn't pinpoint.

(BTW, just in case I have tricked you so far into thinking this post has any valuable takeaway, or you are an Entenmann's exec weeping into your pecan danish ring, this was Jeff's #1 donut. So apparently I know nothing.)

#5: Little Debbie
The good news for Little Debbie is that her inner donut is aces; I thought this was the best-tasting cake of the bunch. The bad news is that otherwise she is a pockmarked outcast who reeks inexplicably of cinnamon. This donut looked like a regurgitated turd compared to the eye-blinding beauty of Entenmann's, with a topography like one of Edward James Olmos' cheeks covered only in a thin, watery frosting that tasted more like cinnamon than chocolate.

#4: Nice!
You can tell Nice! isn't going to be good based on the name alone. First of all, there's the exclamation point--amateur overkill--and then the word choice. "Nice." How was the sex with your date last night? It was... nice. No, it wasn't. It was terrible and you're just being polite. You can't tell whether the word "nice" is a compliment or a sarcastic put-down unless you know the tone. And I have the feeling the people behind Nice! were being sincere, but also maybe that English is not their first language? Anyway, Nice! is pretty Meh! Thick, plastic-tasting frosting, stale donut, bigger than all but one of the other competitors, thereby robbing me of my ability to feel dainty while eating them by the wagonful.

#3: Entenmann's, big n' tall version
These are the Andre the Giant of mini donuts, twice the size of any of their miniature brethren, so I had to remove points right away, despite their enticingly polished presentation and the sensual crunch upon tooth-frosting contact that sets off my most secret, mostly Cheetos-triggered pleasure center. What relegated this to the #3 spot was a cloying sweetness in the frosting and a citrus-y aftertaste in the cake, which was a tad too light for my liking, dissolving almost immediately in my mouth. I like my donuts like I like my men--stocky and hard to bite through.

#2: Tastykake
OK, so the sixth brand I forgot about in the original study? This one. So in the interest of full disclosure I should admit that I really half-assed the second set of data. I didn't section the Tastykake and pick it apart, because--deep breath--I'm not actually a scientist, I'm just a girl, standing in front of six bags of donuts, asking them what I'm doing with my life. So I just took bites of all of the other samples and then ate a Tastykake and tried to rank it that way. And it stood up well. The frosting is really rich and strong, almost a dark chocolate flavor, which sets it apart right away, and the cake is dense but not stale. Philadelphia, you can't spell, but you're onto something here.

#1: Hostess (with the mostess)
In the individual tests, I gave Hostess the worst cake flavor rating, because it had a sort of stale, licorice-y aftertaste. But then I gave it the best frosting rating, since its coating was the only one that actually tasted like real chocolate frosting you might buy from the naked Pillsbury Doughboy. And wouldn't you know, it turns out you can have your assy cake and eat it, too, as long as the frosting's yummy, because hot damn, this one was the BEST. I should have known the company who trademarked the word "donette" knew what they were doing. Also, the donette is the smallest mini donut of all, so a sleeve of six is basically like a bunch of organic kale, calorically-speaking.


  1. I need to start working again soon. Really soon.
  2. Contrary to my long-held and totally disgusting prejudice, all mini frosted donuts are NOT "basically the same." In fact they were totally distinctive, and some of them when compared to the others aren't very good at all.
  3. I will still buy the not good ones, though, as long as they're there.
  4. Jeff and I may have to reevaluate our relationship based on The Entenmann's Parallax. Incidentally that will be the name of the movie based on the book I write about our contentious, snack food-fueled divorce.
  5. You know what? I AM pretty sleepy.

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