Diet trends come and go, but certain food items seem to enjoy a timeless appeal, and donuts are definitely on the list. Even consumers seeking a healthier lifestyle still turn to their favorite confections on occasion in search of a special treat or a sweet dose of comfort.
In a relative sense, donuts haven’t evolved much over the years. These tasty rings still come in cake or yeast form; what changes are the fillings and toppings. What’s new in the world of donuts?
Familiar Flavors, New Twists
There’s a reason classic glazed and chocolate glazed donuts remain the most popular offerings. They’re reliable, nostalgic, and always available.
Still, even the pickiest diners want to try something new occasionally. The reassurance of a comfort fave is alluring, but donut shops may gain some traction with customers by taking traditional flavors to the next level.
Just look at the incredible popularity of Voodoo Doughnut, which launched in 2003 with a single, small location in Portland, OR. With the tongue-in-cheek goal of “world doughnut domination,” it built a cult following by elevating classic cake and yeast donut flavors.
Glazed donuts got a glow-up with sugary breakfast cereal toppings like Froot Loops and Cap’n Crunch, while the O.D.B. added a peanut-butter drizzle and crushed Oreos to the top of a chocolate glazed. As early adopters of the vegan trend (no surprise in the alternative diet haven that is Portland), the store became even more popular.
With a cult following that gained international media attention, this quirky donut shop has expanded to more than a dozen locations in California, Colorado, Florida, Texas, and Washington, with new sites in the works.
Voodoo Donuts continues to serve as a prime example of how to do innovative donuts right by frequently changing it up with seasonal and holiday menu additions.
Israel might not immediately come to mind when you think of donuts, but a trip to the U.K. will teach you the value of thinking outside the box. Donutelier by Roladin, located in bustling Central London, is a luxe Israeli bakery and café that specializes in truly spectacular confections.
Each offering is a handcrafted feast for the eyes, with Insta-worthy options like the Pink Royal, which features a rosette of wild berry cream atop raspberry Chantilly cream, dotted with crispy dried raspberries and strawberry meringue.
Slightly more Mediterranean in its flavor profile is the pistachio donut, topped with Chantilly cream, pistachio varigato, almond sablé, pistachio nibs, and crispy raspberries.
Other upscale options include chocolate ganache with pralines and hazelnuts, a chocolate-cherry Black Forest donut, and a passion fruit and coconut cream concoction. The prices are steep (upwards of £5 per donut), but this bakery has fully embraced the popular small luxury trend, and the quality and novelty of its products are enough to keep a line out the door.
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Limited Edition Flavors
There are places known for limited-time flavor drops throughout the year, including seasonal and holiday offerings that bump interest and sales. While one seems to be focusing more on coffee and croissant offerings lately, the other came out strong at the start of the year by jumping on the Biscoff bandwagon.
This epic team-up is the stuff of confectionary legend, thanks to the perfectly puffed rings, paired in three ways: with Biscoff Cookie Butter icing, Cookie Butter Kreme filling, or Cookie Butter cheesecake (with icing, cream cheese, and Biscoff cookie crumbles).
These delightful donuts were only available for a few weeks, but the cross-promotional and exclusive nature of the campaign is a great example of how to do limited edition menu items right.
Donuts: Always on Trend
By updating classics, exploring international flavor profiles, and planning for limited edition offerings, donut designers can keep this classic confection fresh and delight diners looking to sink their teeth into their favorite fried dough.
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