The hole truth: what you don't know about doughnuts.
If you've ever had a doughnut hot out of the fryer, you know how tough it is to stop at just one. Just what we need: an irresistible food that's made of sugarcoated white flour fried in trans-fat-laden oil.
Doughnuts are a phenomenon. Fortune magazine recently named the rapidly expanding Krispy Kreme "America's Hottest Brand." The company racked up two billion media mentions in 2002, according to Amy Joyner, coauthor of Making Dough: The 12 Secret Ingredients of" Krispy Kreme's Sweet Success (Wiley, 2003).
It's not just taste. It's not just the "Hot Doughnuts Now" sign, which works as a "strong impulse purchase generator." And it's not just what Krispy Kreme calls "doughnut theater"--the "multi-sensory experience" that engulfs customers as they watch the doughnuts come off the assembly line.
Krispy Kreme has a brilliant marketing strategy. It delivers flee doughnuts to local leaders, charities, and reporters as it moves into a community. And the media, in turn, fuel the Krispy Kreme craze.
"When a store comes to town--any town--it's treated like a news event, from the time its plans pass the zoning board to its meticulously razzmatazzed grand opening," writes Jill Rosen in the October/November 2003 American Journalism Review.
Surprisingly, Krispy Kreme's success isn't hurting its competitors. "It's created an awareness for the category, and we're benefiting," Dunkin' Donuts CEO Jon Luther told Newsweek magazine in September.
The competition doesn't hurt in part because each chain attracts a different clientele. Commuters stop at Dunkin' Donuts on their way to work, while customers visit Krispy Kreme for a splurge. (They can buy the identical KK doughnuts at the supermarket.)
Meanwhile, Tim Hortons, Canada's top doughnut chain, has started to make its way across the border. Which raises the question: are we poised to follow our neighbors to the north, who consume more doughnuts per capita than any other nation on earth?
And what will our growing fondness for doughnuts do to our insides and backsides? To find out, we looked at the calories, saturated fat, trans fat, and sugar in the most popular doughnuts from the two leading chains. (Most numbers came from the companies; we analyzed the percentage of trans in the doughnuts' fat.)
If doughnuts hold a warm place in your heart, read on: not all doughnuts are created equal. Some are twice as damaging as others.
The good news: the most popular doughnut at Krispy Kreme, the Original Glazed, isn't as bad as most of the chain's other doughnuts. The bad news: they're so light and airy that stopping after only one ain't easy.
It's not the 200 calories that'll get you (though 200 times two, three, or four sure might). It's the six grams of saturated-plus-trans fat. That's nearly a third of a day's worth of bad fat in every ring. It's like eating a slice of white bread smeared with a tablespoon of lard (plus a tablespoon of jelly).
A Sugar Coated or Glazed Cinnamon--or Glazed or Cinnamon Twist--will do about the same damage. Even the Chocolate Iced looks the same to your arteries. (The chocolate icing is mostly sugar, so it adds about 50 calories, but no more fat.)
What pumps up the calories, fat, and sugar in Krispy Kreme's filled doughnuts? They're heavier. Krispy offers more than a dozen varieties that do away with the doughnut's healthiest feature: its calorie-free, fat-free hole.
Filled yeast doughnuts--including New York Cheesecake, Chocolate Malted Kreme, Caramel Kreme Crunch, Key Lime Pie, and Chocolate Iced Creme Filled--pack 300 to 390 calories and eight to ten grams of harmful fat. Some weigh nearly twice as much as an Original Glazed. Eating one is like having a nine-ounce filet mignon to tide you over until lunch.
Experienced consumers know better than to expect actual fruit in a fruit-filled doughnut. At Krispy Kreme, though, you never know. You get apples in the Cinnamon Apple Filled, but no raspberries in any of the Raspberries. To Krispy, "raspberry" means sugar, gums, artificial flavor, and a finely tuned mix of Red #40 and Blue #1 food coloring.
And the Glazed Blueberry (cake) doughnut uses nothing but corn cereal, corn syrup, and enough Blue #2, Red #40, Blue #1, and Green #3 to make "blueberry gumbits." Yum.
The blueberries may be missing, but the calories aren't. Whether it's Blueberry, Sour Cream, or Devil's Food, each Glazed cake doughnut packs 340 calories, seven teaspoons of corn syrup, and half a day's artery-clogging fat--nearly twice what you'd get in an Original Glazed. That's because glazed cake doughnuts--despite their holes--weigh as much as most filled doughnuts.
Dunkin' Donuts is big in the East. In Massachusetts, they say that the best way to get someone lost is to tell them to turn left at the Dunkin' Donuts.
The company's numbers illustrate one of the General Principles of Dunkin' Donuts Differences: cake is worse than yeast. Yeast doughnuts range from 170 to 270 calories and three to six grams of saturated-plus-trans fat. In contrast, cake doughnuts range from 290 to 360 calories and seven to 10 grams of bad fat.
At Dunkin', the Glazed and Sugar Raised yeast doughnuts leave you with only three grams of saturated-plus-trans fat. That's half what you'd get from Krispy Kreme's Original Glazed or Sugar Coated doughnuts. (Don't use that as an excuse to have two.) Dunkin's Apple N' Spice doughnuts also keep the bad fat to three grams. But it's not because all those apples leave less room for fat. The doughnuts have more yeast than apple.
The Frosted yeast doughnuts--Chocolate, Marble, Strawberry, and Maple--are still on the lowish side, with four grams of heart trouble and roughly 200 calories. But the frosting lifts the sugar to about three teaspoons' worth.
The bad fat inches up to five grams in the Crumb doughnuts. Dunkin' springs for real apples in the Apple Crumb, but it must have gotten a good deal on strawberry puree, because that's the only berry in the Blueberry Crumb. Nothing that a little Red #40, Yellow #6, and Blue #1 food dye can't take care of.
"Kreme" doughnuts are filled with partially hydrogenated oils, sugar, gums, and artificial flavor rather than cream, but that's not exactly good news. Each Chocolate or Vanilla Kreme Filled will run you 270 calories, six grams of artery-lining fat, and four teaspoons of sugar.
Still, those numbers look good next to the cake doughnuts. The "best" cake (Chocolate Glazed) is worse than the worst yeast (Vanilla Kreme Filled). Even a plain Old Fashioned Cake has 300 calories and half a day's bad fat. It's a good way to get ready for an Old Fashioned Heart Attack. In the Glazed version, the sugar climbs to five teaspoons and the calories to 350.
Among the worst cake doughnuts is the Cinnamon Cake. Its 10 grams of heart-stopping fat are more than twice what you'd get in a Chocolate Frosted yeast doughnut.
Too bad Dunkin' doesn't put those numbers up on its menu board. Instead, it's got a deal for you: one doughnut will cost you around 75 cents, but you can get a dozen for about 30 cents each. Krispy Kreme has a similar incentive to weaken your willpower. And the variety--you can mix and match most flavors--entices people to keep eating.
There are Dunkin' Donuts in Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, and a few dozen other countries. And you can find Krispy Kreme in Asia, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Mexico, and Eastern and Western Europe.
Doughnuts are a worldwide phenomenon. So are obesity and heart disease.
In a trans Most doughnuts have two to five grams of trans fat--plus another two to five grams of saturated fat. That's 20 to 50 percent of a day's worth of bad fat (20 grams). Here's how doughnuts (in bold) stack up against some other foods. Just remember: Eating more than one Cinnabon is tough. Eating more than one doughnut is easy. Trans Fat Saturated Fat Food (grams) (grams) Land O Lakes Country Morning Blend, tub (1 Tbs.) 1 2 Dunkin' Donuts Chocolate, Maple, Marble, or Strawberry Frosted doughnut (1) 2 2 Fleischmann's Original, stick (1 Tbs.) 2 2 Oreo Cookies (3) 2 2 I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Sweet Cream, stick (1 Tbs.) 3 2 Jolly Time Butter-Licious Popcorn (4 cups) 3 2 Land 0 Lakes Margarine, stick (1 Tbs.) 3 2 Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnut (1) 3 3 Burger King Chicken Tenders (5) 3 4 Krispy Kreme Glazed Cruller doughnut (1) 3 4 Mrs. Smith's Apple Pie (1/8) 4 4 Dunkin' Donuts Chocolate Frosted Cake doughnut (1) 4 5 Dunkin' Donuts Old Fashioned Cake doughnut (1) 4 5 Entenmann's Rich Frosted Donuts (1) 5 5 Fried Shrimp (14) 5 5 Krispy Kreme Chocolate Iced Creme Filled doughnut (1) 5 5 Burger King French Fries (large) 6 7 Entenmann's Ultimate Super Cinnamon Buns (1) 6 7 Cinnabon (1) 6 9 Sources: company information, laboratory analyses, and CSPI. Dunk this For each chain, doughnuts are ranked from least to most saturated-plus-trans fat, then calories, sugar, and total fat. All doughnuts that aren't identified as "cake" are yeast. Saturated + Total Fat Trans Fat Sugar * Calories (grams) (grams) (grams) Krispy Kreme (1 doughnut) Glazed Twist 210 9 5 16 Cinnamon Twist 230 9 5 19 Original Glazed 200 12 6 10 Sugar Coated 200 12 6 10 Glazed Cinnamon 210 12 6 12 Traditional Cake 230 13 6 9 Chocolate Iced 250 12 6 21 Chocolate Iced Cake 270 14 6 20 Cinnamon Sugar Cake 280 14 6 18 Powdered Cake 280 14 6 19 Glazed Cruller (cake) 240 14 7 14 Chocolate Iced Cruller (cake) 290 15 7 25 Cinnamon Apple Filled 290 16 8 14 Powdered Blueberry Filled 290 16 8 14 Glazed Custard Filled 290 16 8 17 Glazed Blueberry or Strawberry Filled 290 16 8 18 Glazed Lemon Filled 290 16 8 18 Chocolate Iced Custard Filled 300 17 8 17 Glazed Raspberry Filled 300 16 8 21 Dulce de Leche (filled) 290 18 9 12 New York Cheesecake (filled) 330 19 9 17 Key Lime Pie (filled) 330 18 9 23 Glazed Blueberry (cake) 340 18 9 27 Glazed Devil's Food (cake) 340 18 9 27 Glazed Sour Cream (cake) 340 18 9 27 Caramel Kreme Crunch (filled) 350 19 9 25 Powdered Creme Filled 340 21 10 19 Glazed Creme Filled 340 20 10 23 Chocolate Iced Creme Filled 350 21 10 23 Chocolate Malted Kreme (filled) 390 21 10 30 Dunkin' Donuts (1 doughnut) Sugar Raised 170 8 3 4 Glazed 180 8 3 6 Apple N' Spice 200 8 3 7 Jelly Filled 210 8 3 14 Chocolate Frosted 200 9 4 10 Marble Frosted 200 9 4 11 Bavarian Kreme 210 9 4 9 Maple Frosted 210 9 4 12 Strawberry Frosted 210 9 4 12 Boston Kreme 240 9 4 14 Apple Crumb 230 10 5 12 Blueberry Crumb 240 10 5 15 Chocolate Kreme Filled 270 13 6 16 Vanilla Kreme Filled 270 13 6 17 Chocolate Glazed Cake 290 16 7 14 Blueberry Cake 290 16 7 16 Double Chocolate Cake 310 17 7 18 Old Fashioned Cake 300 19 9 9 Powdered Cake 330 19 9 17 Glazed Cake 350 19 9 21 Chocolate Frosted Cake 360 20 9 15 Chocolate Coconut Cake 300 19 10 12 Cinnamon Cake 330 20 10 14 * Includes both refined sugar and much smaller amounts of naturally occurring sugar from fruit and milk ingredients. Daily Values (daily limits for a 2,000-calorie diet): Total Fat: 65 grams. Saturated + Trans Fat: 20 grams. Sugar: 40 grams (4 grams = 1 tsp.). Sources: Krispy Kreme, Dunkin' Donuts, and (for trans fat) CSPI. The use of information from this article for commercial purposes is strictly prohibited without written permission from CSPI.
The information for this article was compiled by Heather Jones, with help from Sarah Wade, Tamar Genger, and Nicole Ferring.