That beloved American holiday is back.
National Donut Day isn’t like National High Fructose Corn Syrup Day, or National Butterscotch Chip Day. In other words, it’s not a semi-nefarious promotion that's driven by the food industrial complex.
It's an honest-to-goodness celebration, one that grew out of the Salvation Army’s efforts to feed American soldiers during World War I. The Salvation Army started to mark the occasion -- always the first Friday in June -- during the Depression, a tribute to the female volunteers who worked on the war’s front lines.
Which is why this year's best celebration is marking that history. It’s taking place at, naturally, the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, and will include live music, WWI storytelling by humorist Kevin Kling and of course free doughnuts (50 dozen of them, courtesy of YoYo Donuts in Minnetonka), all in conjunction with the history center’s “WW1 America” exhibit, which marks the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into the war. Doors open at 7 a.m.
YoYo owner Chris Moquist is going to have a busy day. As he has in the past, he’s offering a free doughnut -- that's defined as, "anything with a hole" -- while supplies last. “Which they won’t,” he said with a laugh, noting that last year's tally reached nearly 500 freebies. The shop is located at 5757 Sanibel Dr. in Minnetonka (952-960-1800). Doors open at 6 a.m., and, yes, the line forms earlier.
Cake doughnut lovers, rejoice (and get ready to queue up): at the fabulous Hans’ Bakery, National Donut Day means free cake doughnuts for everyone, while supplies last. There are three locations: 1423 5th Av. in Anoka, 10400 Baltimore St. NE. in Blaine and 3465 Shoreline Dr. in Navarre (763-421-4200). The freebie-fest begins at 6 a.m.
There’s a freebie situation all day Friday at Dunkin’ Donuts: customers can select a “classic” doughnut at no charge when they purchase any beverage. There are three Twin Cities locations: 7820 42nd Av. N. in New Hope (612-354-4500), 2425 Rice St. in Roseville (651-340-1084) and Minneapolis-St. Paul nternational Airport (612-727-1667).
Canadian rival Tim Hortons is getting into the act, too. All day Friday, anyone who purchases a brewed coffee (hot, or iced) and mentions the words "National Donut Day" is eligible for a free doughnut. The mega-chain has four Twin Cities locations, and counting: Mall of America in Bloomington, 319 14th Av. SE. in Minneapolis, 3600 E. Lake St. in Minneapolis (612-729-2108) and 8500 Xylon Av. in Brooklyn Park (763-424-0464).
At Mojo Monkey Donuts (1169 W. 7th St., St. Paul, 651-224-0142), owner Lisa Clark is giving away doughnuts to the first 200 customers (doors open at 6 a.m.), offering her dazzling lemon old-fashioned doughnuts, along with her version of the Funfetti (the sprinkles are in the dough) and one other to-be-determined option. “Either French toast or strawberry old-fashioned, I haven’t decided yet,” she said. For those who lose out on the freebies, think about picking up one of the shop's chile pepper-chocolate-caramel buns ($3.49) or a mocha mousse-filled Bismarck with chocolate ganache ($3.49), or a chocolate cake doughnut crowned with chocolate ganache, peanut butter whip, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Reese’s Pieces ($3.49). Purists should consider Clark’s ethereal raised doughnuts ($1.59), sold in several variations: basic glaze, chocolate ganache and cotton candy. “I’ll be making a lot of them,” she said with a laugh. My favorite? Her raised doughnuts with a mango glaze and flaked coconut ($2.79).
Cub Foods, a first-rate doughnut maker, is also getting into the freebie act. The details are frustratingly vague, but the plan is that participating stores will be handing out doughnuts. From there, you're on your own.
Meanwhile, other doughnut makers embrace the occasion (but skip the freebies), and crowds follow.
To prepare for the big day, the crew at Mel-O-Glaze has already made up a ton (yes, 2,000 pounds) of glaze. For NDD, the shop -- which just might be the Twin Cities' oldest doughnut establishment; owner Paulette Bosela's parents bought the business in 1961 -- is going to remain open overnight on Thursday, and when the doors close at 6 p.m. on Friday, Bosela estimates that a thousand (dozen) doughnuts -- all made by hand -- will have been sold. Yes, 12,000 doughnuts (and doughnut holes). Prices start at $1 per doughnut, and $12 for a dozen; the shop's doughnut holes, a.k.a. Crack Balls, are $5 for 18. As an added attraction, Bosela will have her two year-old llamas on hand. "I don't know if they'll be making doughnuts, or eating doughnuts," she said with a laugh. The shop is at 4800 28th Av. S. in Minneapolis (612-729-9316).
Just-opened Cardigan Donuts (40 S. 7th St., Mpls., 612-259-7804) is whipping up a special Salvation Army doughnut, a raspberry jam-filled long John fashioned from red and white dough. It’ll be $3.50, and all proceeds will be donated to the Salvation Army. Nice, right? While you’re there, pick up one (or six) of owner Justin Bedford's amazingly airy crullers ($2.75).
What should you order at Glam Doll Donuts? Why, the shop’s mad-scientist "Mac and Cheese Donut" ($8), of course. Here’s a hint: wear comfortable shoes because, yes, there will be a line. Glam Doll now sports two Minneapolis locations: 2605 Nicollet Av. S. (612-345-7064) and 519 Central Av. NE. (612-223-8071). Doors open at 7 a.m.
At Bogart’s Doughnut Co., go the old-school route, with the shop’s spectacular brioche dough doughnut (who knew that brioche made for an amazing glazed doughnut?) with a dreamy brown butter-flecked icing. The Nutella-filled doughnuts also impress; ditto owner Anne Rucker’s vanilla cake doughnut, coated in a vanilla bean glaze and studded with colorful sprinkles (expect to pay, on average, between $2 and $3.25). For NDD, look for just-fried daily specials; most will be revivals of beloved past flavors. And yes, expect a line. “Last year we made 22 batches [there are 135 doughnuts per batch, so that’s nearly 3,000 doughnuts], and we didn’t have a single doughnut left after 11 a.m.,” said Bogart’s Dustin Hertzog. “That’s about eight times our normal Friday production.” There are two locations: 904 W. 36th St. in Minneapolis (612-886-1670) and 80 S. 8th St. in the IDS Crystal Court in Minneapolis (612-259-7700). Doors open at 6:30 a.m. in south Minneapolis, and at 7 a.m. downtown.
Those following vegan and gluten-free diets can join in on the fun. Bakers at the Birchwood Cafe fashion organic ingredients into cake-like almost-doughnuts (they’re baked, not fried, and they're $3 a pop), culling from a seemingly endless list of flavors. On Friday, expect to encounter blueberry-chocolate and rhubarb-lemon. Find it at 3311 E. 25th St. in Minneapolis (612-722-4474).
The gluten-free also have a friend in fun-loving Angel Food Bakery & Coffee Bar (86 S. 9th St., Mpls., 612-238-1435), which always features gluten-free cake doughnuts in its daily assortment.
If your local bakery is sold out (on NDD, that’s pretty much a given), think out of the box. The skilled bakers at Sebastian Joe’s Ice Cream make an impressive cruller ($2.20), heavy with a sweet glaze. Find them at the ice cream maker's two Minneapolis outposts: 1007 W. Franklin Av. (612-870-0065) and 4321 Upton Av. S. (612-926-7916).
For a decade, the Chef Shack’s Carrie Summer has been cranking out standard-setting mini doughnuts (pictured, above) at the popular food truck she runs with chef Lisa Carlson, sticking to organic ingredients and rolling them, hot out of the fryer, in a cardamom- and cinnamon-spiced sugar. On Friday, pick them up (a big-old bag runs $6) at the Shack’s brick-and-mortar iteration, Chef Shack Ranch, 3025 E. Franklin Av. in Minneapolis (612-354-2575).
For those relying upon their favorite shops – some of mine include SugaRush at 712 University Av. W., St. Paul (651-797-3354), Granny’s Donuts at 1555 S. Robert St. in West St. Paul (651-451-6132), Sarah Jane’s Bakery Northeast at 2853 Johnson St. NE. in Minneapolis (612-789-2827) and A Baker’s Wife’s Pastry Shop at 4200 28th Av. S. in Minneapolis (612-729-6898) – I offer these two friendly words of advice: arrive early.
What's your National Donut Day plan? Share the details in the comments section below.