Tag Archives: doughy foods

Doughnuts: With or without holes?

Via e-mail, beginning at 2:54 p.m. today
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J writes:

I almost bought a dozen donuts on the way to work this morning. I had no intention of eating all dozen donuts. I was going to share them with my co-workers in the communal food cube, where I am known more for my withdrawals than my deposits, but it didn’t happen. I hope the thought will count. It probably won’t.

Donuts are a tricky thing anyway. When someone says they like donuts, they are really saying they like a particular kind of donut, not donuts in a general sense. I like Boston Cream donuts, which as far as far as I know are made only by Dunkin Donuts. If you went and got a dozen donuts and didn’t include a Boston Cream I’d think you had totally wasted your time. You’re probably the sort who buys plain donuts and thinks they are getting the full experience.

And speaking of the full experience…

I have never understood why a glazed donut, or a chocolate covered donut, costs the same as the Boston Cream or a jelly donut. Glazed donuts, as we all know, have these giant holes in the middle where the jelly donut has delicious jelly. If you buy the Glazed Donut you basically paid for a worthless air pocket.

And you’re an idiot who didn’t deserve donuts in the first place.
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I respond:

Wait a minute; I disagree about this hole (get it?) doughnut thing.

Are you suggesting that we be charged more for cream/jelly filled doughnuts?

Also as a fan of cream-filled doughnuts AND plain/glazed, I have to say that there are varieties of doughnuts for a reason; sometimes you’re in the mood for something a little less sweet that you can dip in your coffee, and sometimes you want an inside-out cupcake. Different strokes for different folks.

Finally, as a fan of doughnuts in general, I have to say that the BEST doughnuts are those purchased from a bakery or from the Amish Farmer’s Market on Route 45. Quality-plain and simple. Better ingredients, better price, best taste.
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J replies:

Nice pun.

No, I’m not suggesting we be charged more for cream/jelly filled donuts. I’m suggesting we pay less for donuts with the holes in them. Or at least, refuse to buy donuts with the holes in them on general principle. We should refuse to pay for air, unless we’re radio advertisers.

I’ve heard the argument about different strokes for different folks, but there are some things that are intrinsically better and we shouldn’t be afraid to say so. If you want to have something to dip in your coffee, maybe you try a biscotti, but don’t waste a perfectly good donut. Plus what the hell are you doing dipping things in your coffee anyway? Just drink it like a normal person.

Amish do everything better. If you buy a house built by an Amish person, you can rest assured that your grandchildren will be able to live in  it. If you buy a house made by an American contractor, you better hope it lasts the next windstorm.
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I retort:

STOP IMPOSING YOUR FOOD PURITANISM ON ME.

There are days that I like non-cream-filled doughnuts. I DO drink my coffee like a normal person; I just like to dip doughnuts in it sometimes. Surely, the fact (?) that Homer Simpson dips a plain doughnut in his coffee should change your mind.

Though you do have a point about not paying for “air.” I’d be down with doughnuts essentially morphing into bricks of dried dough (no holes).
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J counters:

It’s not food Puritanism. It is a recognition that some things are just wrong.

And Homer Simpson does not eat plain donuts. Never has. He has donuts with sprinkles and I’ve never seen him dip it in coffee.
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I write:

Okay, maybe you’re right about Homer.

But how can holes in doughnuts be wrong if that’s what a doughnut IS? They’re not; you just don’t like them.  Though I don’t have a problem (like I said previously) about doughnuts being big blocks of fried dough like the image below:


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J:

That is what a specific kind of donut is. Not all donuts. Not all donuts are created equal.
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Me:

But the TRADITIONAL doughnut is one with a hole in it.

Besides, would there be munchkins if there weren’t holes in doughnuts? I don’t think so. I don’t know if the marketing ploy towards “filling the doughnut hole” would have been tried if there wasn’t a conspicuously large portion of dough “missing” from the center of doughnuts.
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J:

Actually the munchkins are just part of the corporate greed that ruins most of the food industry. Munchkins are just the part of the donut you throw away when you are charging people for air that they get because they are not smart enough to order a cream filled donut. Dunkin Donuts said, “hey what do you want to do with this trash? Can we sell it? Sure, we’ll call in a munchkin.” Boom.
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Me:

Some people like munchkins more than regular doughnuts though. I only really like the chocolate ones. But even then I’d rather have a whole doughnut-that’s just me.

Also, munchkins are better for sharing and food-cubing. That way you can pick slowly at them all day long instead of feeling like a fatty for eating two doughnuts; they’re a brilliant means of self and other-deception.
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J concedes:

Both good points

(and then writes to me via e-mail 20 minutes later…)

This came to me while I was on the toilet playing Texas Hold ‘Em on my Blackberry.

The problem with Munchkins is that we are essentially paying for what by any rights is garbage. This doesn’t bother us because it’s unique to the American culture.

Garage sales?

Anyone every notice there’s a one letter difference between GARAGE sale and GARBAGE sale? Even walk by someone’s house during a garage sale and wonder if they didn’t start taking out their trash, get bored halfway down the driveway and just start smacking prices on everything.

Yet garage sales continue because people spend money on crap.

And munchkins are crap.
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I confess:

Have you ever trash picked doughnuts out of the Dunkin Donuts dumpster?

I have.  I didn’t eat them but went around and peanut buttered them and stuck them over the cars of people I didn’t like (along with some friends) in high school.

I bet you could eat them and be fine though. They only throw them out (tied in plastic bag) because they get “stale.”
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J concludes:

Point N.
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What about you readers? Do you have an opinion on doughnuts with/without holes? Munchkins? What qualifies as a doughnut? What about apple fritters or bowties? Are these doughnuts?

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Icing, Food on the Floor, and Coke

Via e-mail at 3:13 p.m.
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J writes:

We’re living in a society people…can we agree on a couple of things…

it’s OK to eat icing straight out of the can. We all want to, so I’m giving you permission to do so. There is a lot of white cake being made unnecessarily (chocolate cake has its own special merits) so that people can frost it with all manner of deliciousness. This flour could be put to better uses like solving world hunger.

…eating food off your own floor is OK. This only applies to certain food. While it may be fun to see if you can fry an egg on the sidewalk, I don’t recommend eating it if you do. But if you drop a cheese puff on your office floor, go ahead and eat it. You’ll regret that you didn’t later. I mean, you might not admit that you regret it, but you will.

…Coca Cola can solve a lot of the world’s ills. The 80s were a simpler time, when we all had a Coke and a smile. Coke, as we all know, was originally made with cocaine, which was one of the main psychiatric drugs of the late 19th century. Made people extremely happy, at least until they died from heart attacks caused by the cocaine. Now we don’t use cocaine to treat psychiatric disorders. People are miserable and, oddly enough, they are still having heart attacks. So maybe we over-reacted. I’m just saying.

Food and Office Bonding

Via e-mail today at 12:11 p.m.
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J writes:

We’ve got a lot of new people starting at the office today, which of course means a lot of food because you can’t say “welcome to your new job” without a cupcake or a cola, I figure. It’s just part of the culture. When someone comes to your house you offer them something to drink unless you’re socially inept, so in a world where the lines between work and not-work are increasingly blurred, and where we spend conscious time at the office than we do at home, it follows that when someone comes to our office we’d offer them something to eat.

I have always marveled at the popularity of office food. People who work in offices are obviously employed, but we attack community office food as if we were homeless victims of starvation.

There’s an interesting sociology going on here…particularly for those involved in employee retention.

Food is a good measure of how close your relationship is. First dates are often done at restaurants where someone else is responsible for the food. As we get closer to a person, we invite them to eat at our house. If you want to know who your best friend is, ask yourself how comfortable you’d be with them coming over to your house, opening your refrigerator and fixing a sandwich. If you’re fine with that, you’re very close.

In the office, food forms an interesting social bond that creates an artificial closeness. Leaving a job for another job often becomes more complicated than it needs to be. I’ve spoken with several people who are looking to make a switch from one job to another, but can’t make the leap for some subconscious reason they can’t quite articulate.

I remind them—a job is not a marriage; your co-workers are not your family. You haven’t made a lifetime commitment. It’s blindingly obvious, but like most blindingly obvious points only gets recalled after a reminder.

I suspect people feel this bond because, well, they’ve had a lot of cake in the conference room.

But I’m just speculating.

Pretzels: Savory AND Sweet Snack Option…?

An e-mail exchange that spans two days (beginning yesterday at 3:50 p.m.)

(Note: it starts off about flavor combos, but then ends up being about argument logic in general, and the law of diminishing returns-it’s looong.)
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J writes:

Don’t be fooled by the marketing gimmicks. Not all great tastes taste great together. Yes, peanut butter and chocolate is a wonder, but peanut butter and fish sticks? Probably not, unless you’re pregnant.

Frito Lay, maker of the fine Doritos line of products, recently embarked on a series of unfortunate events where they combined two flavors into one bag. They rolled out a whole series of them in a test marketing campaign they never really explained to the public. My personal favorite was blue cheese and buffalo wings, but those are gone now and the company has apparently decided that what the public really wants is a combination of ranch and pizza flavored chips.

Not this member of the public. The combination makes no sense (ever dip your pizza in ranch dressing? I didn’t think so) and because these items are actually CHIPS, by the time you get to the bottom of the bag the lovely Dorito Dust (nectar of the snack food gods) has combined into a nebulous flavor one can only describe as sharp and salty. Not good at all.

And this is not the only ill-fated combination I’ve seen recently. One of my colleagues recently brought in bacon flavored chocolate. Yeah, I know. She also likes American hoagies, but bacon flavored chocolate? It came in a nice wrapper and she said it was expensive, so I guess…but listen, as our president said, you can put lipstick on a pig and it’s still a pig, at the risk of mixing my pork metaphors.

And pretzels. Pretzels are meant to come in one flavor—salty. If you want to dip them in cheese, that’s fine, a little redundant maybe, but as long as you are not dipping them in gorgonzola you still can keep your membership in the human race.

But I am going to call a halt to the hysteria that has gripped a lot of chain (no food truck would dare attempt this) pretzel stands. They do not need pepperoni. They should not come with cinnamon sugar, or sesame seeds or even garlic really.

Just enjoy the goodness that is a classic pretzel. If you like cinnamon and sugar, go get a cup cake.
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I respond:

First of all: I’m not fooled by marketing gimmicks. I agree, there are some tastes that coalesce nicely; chocolate and peanut butter, banana and peanut butter, chocolate and mint, blue cheese and buffalo flavoring, salt and chocolate, etc. But someone had to be the first to combine the aforementioned flavors together. Don’t forget, even the portable dessert staple of the chocolate chip cookie was only invented in the 1930s. We owe much to innovation in food, and as far as flavor delivery goes (I’m talking carbs here-pasta, breads, other doughy products-all serve to provide a base for another more poignant or delicious taste sensation), pretzels are a great candidate.

Second-of-ly: Why can we dip pretzels in cheese but in nothing else? You’re just biased towards cheese…VERY biased towards cheese. You’re as into cheese as I am into ice cream, which is to say, it’s an almost religious-like devotion. So OF COURSE it’s okay to dip pretzels in cheese for you. But I say you’re missing out on other delicious flavor options.

Thirdly: Am I to take it that you don’t indulge in an Auntie Anne’s pretzel every now and again? Those are tasty because they are immersed in butter. Is butter another ingredient that you deem inappropriate for soft pretzels? (The PA Dutch use butter in their pretzels which are very traditional as far as recipes go.)

And last of all: Pretzels, because of their doughy/salty nature are perfect for dessert. Cinnamon and sugar pretzels are pretty darn good. Now, if I’m going to eat that much sugar, my instinct is to go for something “worth it”, like a cupcake, as you say. But I can see the merits in the cinnamon and sugar pretzel, and have tasted one, and they’re pretty tasty-too tasty, in fact, for you to condemn them wholesale.  Which brings me to a more pressing point…do you disagree in principle with pretzels as dessert? Because if so, then you eliminate one of God’s gifts to mankind-the chocolate covered pretzel. And that, well, that is just incomprehensible to me.

Fin.
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J retorts:

A couple of quick points before I get to the artery clogging heart of your argument…

…first, I take umbrage to the defining of my affection for cheese as “religious devotion.” I am, after all, engaging in a food debate with a VEGAN, which shows that I have an open mind, whereas you have closed off your taste buds to anything that moos or oinks.

…second, being first is hardly a criteria for credibility. Haven’t you seen the list of “firsts” that never got off the ground because they were stupid? Didn’t think so. No one thought it was worth writing down.

Auntie Anne’s is a case in point. If you really knew the chain as well as you thought you did, you would know that the pepperoni pretzel, the sesame seed pretzel and the garlic pretzel are all Auntie Anne’s products. This greedy corporate conglomerate figured it had wrung all the profit it could out of the unsuspecting consumer (Auntie Anne’s pretzels are among the highest in terms of price, which is why you find them at airports) and it would quickly reach market saturation with just the classic salty pretzel. So it introduced a whole new line of none thought out products purely for the fattening of its bottom line. It’s not creativity; it’s corporate greed.

What’s most interesting to me is that you defend the cinnamon sugar pretzel by mentioning other desert pretzels. You can’t defend one mistake by pointing to a bunch of others that by rights should fail.

Since this is an office-based blog about food, I will cite as evidence the once great comedy The Office. In the 5th episode of the 3rd season (the show’s 33rd episode overall), Pam has to followed Michael Scott’s productivity for the day, but he spends all his time waiting in line for…

…wait for it…

…wait for it…

…a desert pretzel.

I submit that any food idea endorsed by Michael Scott, probably is not one that should be followed.
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I counter:

I’m leaving for the day…we’ll continue this tomorrow.

But before I go…

I love that you used the word “umbrage.”

And (I don’t know how many times I have to tell you this), I AM NOT A VEGAN. I don’t eat meat (I eat certain seafood though) or milk-based products. I do, however, still consume eggs and honey. I just happen to eat foods that are vegan because then I don’t have to worry if there is any butter or milk in said product (or whey, or nonfat milk powder, or lactose, or whatever-the-heck-else-I-can’t-pronounce-that-isn’t-real-food is shoved into my “food”).

AND as someone who has “closed off my taste buds” I should point out that I eat a larger variety of foodstuffs than you do, I’m sure. This is evidenced by the fact that you know WAY MORE about Auntie Anne’s evolving menu than I do (and Taco Bell’s, MickyD’s, Wendy’s, food trucks’ menus, etc). Sure, I don’t eat chicken, or turkey (oh how I miss thee turkey!), or beef (not so much), or, heaven forbid-bacon, and I don’t have milk or cream or butter…BUT, I don’t really miss them (except for ice cream-oh how I miss ice cream), because there are non-animal based products that I can use to substitute (almond milk is DELICIOUS for example, coconut milk ice cream, avocado or hummus instead of mayo, tofu instead of meat, etc…).

This conversation isn’t over…this will continue tomorrow.
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This morning at 9:42 a.m. via e-mail, I write:

To continue the argument from yesterday…

I will invoke what I said to you when walking to the train: it is completely logical to use chocolate-covered pretzels as a point in my argument to disprove your argument against cinnamon and sugar pretzels. I bring up the Glory of chocolate-covered pretzels to point out an inconsistency in your Food Puritanism (which, conveniently-as mentioned yesterday via email AND in conversation-does not include cheese).

Also, it doesn’t matter that Auntie Anne’s is the greedy corporation manufacturing a variety of delicious overpriced “fancy” pretzels. The point is that such pretzels DO exist and are delicious. How you can defend a pretzel and cheese, which is hardly conventional, over a pretzel with poppy or sesame seeds instead of salt is beyond me. At least the poppy and sesame seeds somewhat mimic the texture of salt and add the same amount of crunch.
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J swings back:

The issue is one of a law of diminishing returns. You get a satisfying snack experience from a classic salty pretzel. You might get a satisfying experience from a chocolate covered pretzel but is it that much better than the experience you got from a regular salty pretzel? Unlikely. Add the poppy seeds. Any better? Nope. Stick with the classics.

And cheese is in a class by itself. I refer to my staple source of evidence, really bad television. Hell’s Kitchen, Gordon Ramsay’s profanity fest, once had an episode where the chefs had to prepare a high school lunch and the students voted on which one was best. Winner? The deep fried chicken sandwich with a slice of cheese.

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I conclude:

If you’re going to bring up the law of diminishing returns, then it applies to ALL food. Everyone knows the anticipation (and first bite) are better than every subsequent taste. I believe Pooh or A.A. Milne (I’m reading The Tao of Pooh) said it best with, “Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn’t know what it was called.”

As we argued only several moments ago in my cube, your judging the value of anything other than a plain soft pretzel is a personal taste preference or subjective evaluation, which, I’m sorry, doesn’t hold up in this argument.

I’m still bothered by your dodging my attack on your “stick with the conventional” branch of your argument. It’s not about what’s conventional anymore is it? It’s about what you like to eat which is apparently, cheese. Which, I believe we discussed yesterday on the way to the train. You said that combining flavors is silly…if you want X, just eat X. You don’t put mashed potatoes, steak and peas all in the same bite (though some people do), so why do that with snack foods (even though this whole email chain began with you bemoaning the stupid flavor combos to come out of Doritos as of late)? I countered with something I can’t remember now (it was witty and intelligent, I’m sure) and then asked you why you don’t just eat plain cheese, to which you replied, “Because it’s not socially acceptable to eat just a slice of cheese! But if it was, I’d be all over that.”

Which brings me to my final point in this tangential argumentative free-for-all: If you want to eat cheese (which is apparently in a class by itself) just eat cheese. Who cares what society says! Follow your heart! By the way…of COURSE the chicken sandwich with cheese was the best high school lunch-EVERYONE knows (including me who doesn’t eat them anymore) that there’s nothing…absolutely NOTHING like a good ol’ fashioned “meat and cheese.”

So to sum up why your argument is flawed: You can’t dismiss the pluses of various pretzel combos just because you have a thing for cheese. You especially can’t use the “the combos are newfangled and un-traditional” because the so-called “new and fancy” flavor groupings mimic your favorite traditional salty pretzel more closely than cheese-which you make all sorts of special allowances for because it is simply Cheese, and therefore, imposing your subjective tastes onto the rest of us.
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J closes:

In my college classes, there’s a point where my students start figuring out that I never actually read anything they send me so that if they just put enough words to paper they’ll pass. There’s a certain merit to that, but we talk about things like theories of argument and grammatical principles, not important things like salty pretzels, desert pretzels and cheese. So, unfortunately for you, I am paying attention.

Your focus on my love for cheese is a distraction, and not germane. Cheese is of the savory line of food stuffs. Someone who likes cheese probably likes cheese puffs, but not necessarily cream puffs from a bakery. You could make the argument that junk food is junk food, but not really. I like cheese, but that doesn’t mean I like sweet foods.

And therein lies the problem. Pretzels, in their original pure form, are a savory snack. And they occupy a significant market niche in the savory snack arena.

When we make them cinnamon sugar pretzels or chocolate covered pretzels, we’ve created disgusting hybrids similar to the genetic anomalies we all feared after Dolly the Sheep was unleashed on the world.

When pretzels become desert food, they are just trying to be something they are not and, in the final analysis, screwing up the junk food universe. Just like chocolate shouldn’t be flavored with bacon, pretzels shouldn’t be flavored with cinnamon, sugar or chocolate. It’s the cross-over effect I have a problem with.

And, incidentally, yes I’d have a problem if someone put chocolate or sugar on my cheese puffs.
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That was long. Sorry. We left the argument there, sort of. We actually yelled about it at each other a bit over my cube, but have yet to come to a conclusion. Who do YOU think wins? Leave a comment and let us know.