It’s more about the quest for the donut than the donut itself.
I’m fairly certain that my coworkers all think I’m obsessed with donuts. Much of this is owed to my affinity for Dunkin’, which I talk about incessantly. I can’t help it that I run on Dunkin’ and that I get major points and deals through Dunkin’s app and that I am very serious about getting sponsored as a trail runner by Dunkin’. In Colorado, where the ubiquity of Dunkin’ is abysmal compared to the East Coast, I have developed a Dunkin’ radar. Wherever I am, I know where the closest Dunkin’ is. (There are 4 in the Springs; one in Montrose and north Boulder; several in south Denver, including off exit 196 and also south Broadway … I could continue.) This obsession is undeniable, but it causes confusion. Certainly, when I get my iced caramel macchiato with skim milk at Dunkin’, I am inclined to purchase an accompanying donut, but that’s not always the case. Why? Because I pursue donuts as a quest, not an afterthought.
Every year on National Donut Day (mark your calendars — it’s June 4, 2021 this year!), I literally run to Dunkin’ to get my free donut. It usually means resigning myself to walking 2-3 miles afterward, because I don’t want to run home right after ingesting a donut. One year, after running the 5K to my local Colo Spgs Dunkin’, a woman in line asked me if I was in the Army. Sweating and panting, I replied that no, I wasn’t — I’m just a Dunkin’ freak.
I have hiked Pikes Peak twice, and in both instances, the goal for me was not summiting the 14er; the goal was to reach the donuts at the Summit House — two different things, in my opinion. (The donuts taste incredible if you’ve done the hike. That level of exertion makes all food taste approximately 89% better than it normally does. It’s #science.)
When I finished a 10-day backcountry stand-up paddleboard trip with my friend Mary, we had a three-day drive back to Colorado from British Columbia. We decided we’d stop in Denver at Voodoo Donuts on the return. And thus the journey home transformed from a driving slog into a donut quest.
I found myself in a deep rabbit hole a few Friday nights ago. Friday night during COVID is pretty uneventful. So uneventful, in fact, that I was scrolling through Facebook until I stumbled upon an article about where you can get the best donut in all 50 states. Commence an hour-long review.
As I worked through the article, I wrote down nearly every location I could feasibly visit. I even wrote down the shop in Baton Rouge, because I have a friend in Louisiana and on the off-chance I’d visit her, I would simply have to go. I was texting many people all at once —
My friend, Maddie, in Anchorage: “Have you ever been to ‘The Kobuk’? Have you tried their glazed old-fashioned?”
My family friend, John, another donut aficionado: “Your student mentees are based in Tuscon, right? Apparently THE place to get a donut in Arizona is located at “La Estrella” in Tuscon!”
My friend, Yoyo, in Santa Fe: “When I visit you next week, can we please check out ‘Whoo’s Donuts’?”
My brother, Fletcher, in Brooklyn: “The Doughnut Plant, Flatbush. We’ve gotta check it out next time I visit you.” (Fletch actually responded almost immediately with: “Doughnut Plant is good! I’ve been there a bunch — there’s also one in Lower East Side for future reference. Top doughnuts there are creme brulee, the blueberry, and the Brooklyn Blackout (all chocolate everything) lolol … next time you’re in NY we can go! There are a few other spots that I’d rank on the same level or even better.” You see people, this is why we’re siblings.)
The most important message had to wait until Monday morning. Naturally, I needed to know where the best donuts in Colorado are located. Turns out, they’re not in Denver, Boulder, or Colo Spgs. They’re in Pueblo. Guess who lives in Pueblo? My badass co-worker, Steph.
I needed Steph’s input on a work-related matter, so I used that as an intro to my real motive: donut intel. I told her about the article, and she replied, “Is it Schusters? Because they’ve been around forever!”
It was indeed Banquet Schusters Bakery.
Steph immediately asked me what flavors I’d prefer, because she’d bring me some the next time she journeyed to Colorado Springs. I could’ve cried.
This conversation grabbed the attention of our whole department. Soon, Steph was promising to bring all of us donuts. And in the time between the promise and the delivery of said donuts, word of my donut love grew.
I was on a professional development call entitled, “How to Write Goals like a Champ!” The facilitator, Andrew, asked us to write in the chat box a potential goal we would pursue in the next year, unrelated to work, if time/money were no obstacle. I wrote, “Find the best donuts in every state.” Guess whose silly goal got chosen (out of the I think nearly 50 people on the call) to discuss?
After theorizing how I could achieve this ridiculous goal with my coworkers on Zoom, I am confident that a significant portion of my office thinks I am 1) obsessed with donuts, and 2) certifiably insane. It didn’t help that Andrew and others brought up the donut goal on another call the following week — a “lunch call” with FIVE OLYMPIC/PARALYMPIC ATHLETES.
But it’s not about the donuts, people! Though I do consider myself a donut connoisseur, it is how one obtains the donut that makes it taste all the much better.
Last Friday, I woke up at 6:30, scraped the ice off of my car, drove to a local park, and ran 5 miles in a foot of snow. Then I drove to the USOPC Sport House, where Steph and a half dozen other coworkers were gathered around a box of Schusters donuts (in masks, OK?).
That blueberry donut was one of the softest, most delicate I have ever eaten. And I bet you it would have been less soft and delicate had I not just run 5 miles and underwent essentially an office donut saga over the course of two weeks.
Krispy Kreme is coming to Colorado Springs. On Opening Day, I’ll probably run there, too.