I don’t know what it’s like to stare death in the face, but if I were to guess, I imagine it would resemble my recent experience at The Donut Experiment.
To be clear, this is not because their donuts are not delicious, intoxicating and generally safe to eat. It’s because I don’t believe in moderation, and I found myself staring down a dozen donuts, topped with assorted goodies. I wound up eating all 12 of them in a two-hour period.
“This is research,” I rationalized in between sugar-choked sobs. “This is the only way I can deliver informed opinions.” (The burden I must bear for you, dear readers. Yes, all five of you.)
At first, I thought The Donut Experiment sounded like the kind of thing a 5-year-old would come up with because they still have the innocence of youth. They don’t know what “responsibility” or “saturated fats” or “dignity” are.
See, I assumed you’d be able to put an unlimited combination of toppings on a donut – the kind of free-for-all spirit that created the Coke-Sprite-Mountain Dew-root beer-orange soda-iced tea elixir also known as the suicide fountain drink.
To The Donut Experiment’s credit, they’ve done a marvelous job of showing restraint. Instead of unlimited, unregulated topping combinations, you get one icing and one topping per donut. In simplifying this process, The Donut Experiment has customer-proofed their menu: They minimize the chance that you’ll order a disgusting donut you’ll definitely regret.
While you don’t get to indulge in your basest childhood candy fever dreams, The Donut Experiment still lives up to its name. There are 17 toppings and five icings, which means a grand total of 85 possible topping-icing combinations. That, in addition to the specialty donuts: key lime, Sriracha, and a daily special. (By the way, these are cake donuts, and they’re made fresh every hour. Your individual donuts are made to order, so the toppings and icing are freshly applied to your still-warm donuts.)
I sampled the following combinations: chocolate-rainbow sprinkles; plain glazed; maple-bacon; vanilla-Fruity Pebbles; maple-Butterfingers; glazed-peanut butter drizzle; glazed-raspberry drizzle; chocolate-sea salt; key lime; and Sriracha. And while they were all good – I mean, we’re talking about donuts here – there were a few standouts.
The maple-bacon is a classic combination of salty and sweet, and while the flavors balanced out, they were still very heavy-handed and intense. The vanilla-Fruit Pebbles was also a personal favorite, with rainbow cereal chunks adding a crunchy outer layer to the soft donut. (I’m a sucker for sugary cereals because I grew up eating boring health cereals like Raisin Bran.)
The chocolate-rainbow sprinkle donut was quite a looker, but sprinkles just never seem to taste as good as they look. The Sriracha is also worth a mention, as it’s not actually a donut doused in garlicky hot pepper condiment. Instead, it’s a donut coated in crushed peanuts with a Sriracha drizzle. You get to taste the sweetness in Sriracha at first bite, but the peanuts quickly override any other flavors, save for the hint of heat at the end.
Of course, I am splitting hairs. After all, I’m talking about freshly made donuts covered in sugary things. There’s no way they wouldn’t be delicious. My only real advice? Don’t ever order a dozen donuts for yourself, and proceed to eat them all within a two-hour window.
// THE DONUT EXPERIMENT
WHERE: 2123 Augusta St, Greenville
INFO: 255-3399, thedonutexperiment.com
COST: Single donut, $1.35; half-dozen, $7.25; dozen, $13
+ Uhm…they’re donuts. Self-explanatory.
+ Lots of fun for kids and families wanting to try out new flavors.
+ Simplified choices mean fewer ways you can screw up a perfectly good donut.
– Denser cake donuts tend to get lumpier and turn into bricks of dough the longer they sit. Definitely better when fresh.
– Do you really want to deal with the aftermath of your kids going buck-wild in a donut shop?