In honor of Top Chef Duels, airing on Bravo at 10 ET tonight, we’re taking on some food duels of our own.
This week on Top Chef Duels Jen Carroll and Nyesha Arrington are cooking for the cast of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, so we are profiling that cop-iest of cop foods, the doughnut. In the world of fried, sugary dough there are two leaders vying for placement in police station break rooms: Dunkin’ Donuts and Krispy Kreme. Even as artisanal doughnut shops rise to stardom across the country, these two brands stand as the battling titans of the doughnut world.
FWx’s Noah Kaufman and Justine Sterling have experienced both Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ in their natural habitats and will now judge them for you.
NK: Krispy Kreme has 884 doughnut shops in 39 states and 23 countries. That’s enough to feed almost everyone who wants a doughnut without the obnoxious “multiple locations on a single block” phenomenon used by some other doughnut shops.
JS: There are 11,000 Dunkin’ Donuts stores in 33 countries. To exist in this world is to be close to a Dunkin’ Donuts. They’re everywhere. It’s harder to find somewhere that doesn’t have a Dunkin’ Donuts.
NK: Sweet and almost unbelievably light. If a molecular gastronomy chef was asked to make doughnut air, he might just come back with a glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut. The flagship offering is as close to a melt-in-your mouth bread item as exists today. And the airy texture makes it possible to eat half a dozen before you even know what you’ve done.
JS: Krispy Kremes are known for their light-as-air texture, their sugary, melt-in-your mouth-ness. Well, some of us like to actually chew our doughnuts. Dunkin’ Donuts’s glazed doughnuts are doughy and chewy. They’re covered with flaky, sugary glaze that crackles and falls into your mouth. They’re like the people of the Northeast—there’s substance to them.
NK: I confess that in all my visits to Krispy Kreme the other doughnuts in the case have not figured prominently in my eating. But Krispy Kreme now has 44 varieties, including a brilliant and timely marshmallow-filled Ghostbusters doughnut. They have also never had a marked failure like this Peeps thing.
JS: What do you want? Cruller? Sprinkled? Old-fashioned? Filled with Bavarian cream? Filled with jelly? Cakey? Filled with cookie dough cream in the shape of a heart? If you can dream it, Dunkin’ Donuts can make it. That said, I have to concede to Krispy Kreme on this one just because of the company’s upcoming, limited-edition Ghostbusters-themed doughnuts. You win this one, Krispy Kreme. Even I can’t defend putting a Peep on a doughnut.
NK: The number one best thing about Krispy Kreme and about any doughnut shop anywhere is getting a hot doughnut right off the glazing assembly line. All of Dunkin’s offerings are just sitting in baskets behind the counter and you’d have to be extraordinarily lucky to get a hot doughnut. Since the early ’90s, Krispy Kreme has actually had a hot doughnut light, which is not a weird sex position, but instead a real light that lets everyone know when hot doughnuts are ready. They even spun that idea off into a hot doughnut app so you’ll know when to show up at your local Krispy Kreme no matter where you might currently be.
JS: Ooh, a fresh doughnut! So fancy! Heat! I never thought of heat! What do you call a hot doughnut after one minute? A regular room-temperature doughnut. Dunkin’ Donuts has Munchkins: tiny, bite-size little doughnut morsels. Don’t call them doughnut holes. They’re so much more. Why? Because they can come filled with jelly! Whoa! How’s that boring hot doughnut sound now? Snore fest! We’re talking chocolate-glazed spheres here! Plus, I have it on good authority that if you order one Munchkin, the Dunkin’ Donuts employee will very likely give you two because that’s just the kind of people Dunkin’ Donuts people are.
NK: I know Dunkin’ people have been just dying to talk about coffee for the past 200 words, so here’s your opportunity. Yes, for some reason the entire population of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, if given a choice between actual ambrosia and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee would choose the latter, but they also hope to have a group wedding with Tom Brady after he retires. My point is, they’re prone to weird desires. Krispy Kreme’s coffee doesn’t have the same army of devotees, but it’s there too, if you want it. Never mind the coffee though. What Krispy Kreme does have the only claim to is an endless supply of awesome hats. It speaks volumes that all you need to properly enjoy a Krispy Kreme doughnut is a paper hat. Just look how much these adorable children enjoy them.
JS: A doughnut without a cup of coffee is like a Krispy Kreme doughnut lover without a dumb look on their face. (Zing! Slam!) And Dunkin’ Donuts coffee is, statistically speaking, what the country is drinking. The company sells about 30 cups of coffee every second. So if you want to fit in and be one of the cool kids, you should probably be drinking Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.
Less Gross Gross Thing
NK: Krispy Kreme can boast its inclusion in one of the most bizarrely satisfying food mash-ups all time: the doughnut burger (or doughnut sandwich). Yes, it sounds like a state fair gimmick, but the Krispy Kreme burger has inspired brunch offerings in well-respected restaurants all over the United States. As long as those well-respected restaurants are willing to serve dishes whose calorie count will sustain a normal human being for several days.
JS: A Krispy Kreme doughnut burger is something that you would maybe, possibly eat on a dare. Dunkin’ Donuts makes a breakfast sandwich with their glazed doughnut. No dare needed for that bad boy. Doughnut? Good. Eggs? Good. Cheese? Yes, please. Bacon? I’m an American, aren’t I? It’s everything this great nation of ours loves. My doughnut breakfast sandwich ’tis of thee, great meal of liberty.