Monday, January 27, 2014

Dealing with Donuts, or doughnuts

Late last night I got home from the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association in Philadelphia, PA.  The event was great, I had a lot of fun and met a lot of professionals from all over the US, in addition to attending various meetings, checking out the vendor displays and visiting various sites of interest in Philly.

Then of course there was the quintessential debate I had as a Canadian in the states.  How do the donuts compare to my Canadian experience?

I know this may sound silly to some readers, but up here in Canada we take our doughnuts (correct Canadian spelling) seriously, and although I grew up with both Robin's Donuts and Country-Style Donuts, when we refer to doughnuts up here, we mean Tim Hortons (pictured right).

So I knew when I visited Philly, I would have to compare the doughnuts I grew up with along side two specific competitors, Dunkin' Donuts and a small business called Federal Donuts.

Dunkin' Donuts (which appear on virtually every other corner), appeared to be the closest competitor in Philadelphia, I could be wrong, having stuck mainly to the downtown core, but these restaurants were everywhere (pictured left)

Also the lineups were crazy and if I walked into any business drinking a cup of Dunkin' Donuts coffee, I would inevitably get approached by strangers asking me where the nearest Dunkin' Donuts was located.

The coffee at Dunkin is pretty good, but the donuts were something else all together - first of all the batter itself was sweet, the first donut I tried was a standard Chocolate dip, and it tasted kind of like a donut mixed with a chocolate bar, very sweet for my norther sensibilities, and although it wasn't really my cup of tea, I can see how addictive a sweeter donut could be.

Federal Donuts, on the other hand,  was pretty hard to find (the nearest location to my downtown hotel was about a 20-minute walk), and deciding to save my Dunkin' experience for later in the trip, I went to Federal on my first morning in Philly.

The donuts there (pictured, along with a coffeee and my book), were some of the best tasting I've had in the last ten years.  Although Tim Horton's doughnuts used to be baked in store, since 2006 they've been pre-made in Ontario and are shipped out to be finished in store, and you can definitely tell the difference.  These donuts were freshly made and simply delicious, no matter which ALA event I was at, I could not stop talking about how great these donuts were.

Do they measure up to the doughnuts of my Canadian childhood?  It's hard to say, nostalgia is tricky that way, but I will say that they are about as close as I can hope to get, so if you happen to get to Philly, they are definitely worth a try - just get there early, as they close up once they sell out their daily batches.

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