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Chicago’s Donut Obsession: How Donuts Became the New Cupcake

By: Anna Junko, Section Editor for Student Literature and Art (ajunko2@uic.edu)

Donut chains are a thing of the past, and you can forget about cupcake shops. Move over Dunkin’ Donuts; Chicago is well into its boutique donut craze.

Chocolate4 Donut Photo: Glazed and InfusedPhoto: Glazed and Infused

It seems like you can’t go anywhere in the city without seeing a few brightly colored awnings boasting fresh, handmade, small-batch treats. Many shops advertise limited quantities and unique flavors. For example, Glazed and Infused, one well-known shop, boasts of Crunchy PB&J, Maple Bacon Long John, Crème Brûlée and Lemon Coconut flavors.

Donuts at boutique donut shops usually cost about $5, which is steeper than the 95 cents it costs to grab a donut at Dunkin’ Donuts. Fans insist that it’s worth the price.

The donut fad can be traced back to 2011, when Donut Vault opened in River North. It was all downhill from there. A few months later, the owners of Cookie Bar opened Dirty Betty’s in Lakeview, which was quickly followed by Do-Rite Donut, a Lettuce Entertain You joint that opened in 2012 in the Loop.

One could say that the cupcake-to-donut transition was complete when the now famous Glazed and Infused opened its first Wicker Park location in 2012. Now when you Google “donut shops in Chicago,”  15 shops appear, excluding Dunkin’ Donuts, of course.

I suggest trying out my favorite little shop, Do-Rite Donuts, located at Randolph and Dearborn in the Loop. Do-Rite Donuts guarantees small batches, making no more than 36 donuts at a time. Small batch baking ensures attention to detail, and you won’t be disappointed. Try a Pistachio-Meyer Lemon donut, or a plain old Buttermilk Old Fashioned. If you’re feeling especially adventurous, taste a Carrot Cake donut. Do-Rite Donuts also offers many gluten-free versions of their flavors, catering to both the allergy-ridden and health conscious. Donut gentrification at its finest.

So how long will this fad last? Will we soon see empty donut storefronts as the next designer food moves in?

Well, the new donut might already be on it way. Cronuts, a mix between a croissant and a donut, have been spotted in New York and now in Logan Square at La Boulangerie. I hear that designer breakfast toast is the new craze in San Francisco.

But for now, it seems donuts are here to stay.

Crunchy PB&J

Photo: Glazed and Infused

Further Reading:

http://www.goglazed.com/doughnut-overload/

http://articles.redeyechicago.com/2012-03-07/entertainment/31125170_1_doughnut-shop-cake-doughnut-jelly-filled

http://www.cntraveler.com/daily-traveler/chicago/2013/07/chicago-donut-doughnut-shops

http://chicago.eater.com/archives/2013/03/29/the-proof-is-in-the-doughnut.php

http://www.goglazed.com/doughnuts/

http://doritedonuts.com/

http://news.msn.com/pop-culture/cronut-mania-all-you-need-to-know

http://www.psmag.com/navigation/health-and-behavior/toast-story-latest-artisanal-food-craze-72676/

http://chicagoist.com/2012/03/28/first_look_glazed_and_infused.php#photo-1

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