The biggest doughnut chain of them all has done more than anyone else to spread the doughnut gospel all across the world. And while doughnuts have taken a bit of a backseat to their savory options and coffee in recent years, this Massachusetts-based chain still sells undeniably tasty doughnuts, with a West Coast expansion underway. Seasonal offerings like Red Velvet Drizzle and the Pumpkin Pie doughnut keep the menu fresh — and who doesn’t love Munchkins?
Since 1937, Krispy Kreme has been baking fresh doughnuts throughout the day and letting customers know when they’re hot via a neon sign in the window. They come in several dozen varieties (including limited-edition ones like banana pudding), but one bite of a hot Original Glazed and you’ll be hooked.
This Canadian chain is its home country’s largest food service operator, and it’s beloved up in the Great White North, where there are more doughnut shops per capita than any other country. Thankfully, it began its aggressive descent into the U.S. about a decade ago, and has been winning its way into Americans’ hearts ever since. If you still haven’t been, drop by and ask for a Dutchie; you won’t be disappointed.
The first Honey Dew opened in 1973 and has been giving the bigger chains a run for their money since day one. With more than 150 locations in New England, the Plainview, Mass.-based chain also opened the first drive-thru coffee and doughnut shop in the region. Founder Dick Bowen has been constantly innovating, inventing new doughnut varieties like the Butternut Donut (coated with rolled oats), the Coconut Jelly Stick, and their popular Cinnamon Stick. Aside from the delicious doughnuts, the company also gives back to the community by sponsoring local sports teams, fundraisers, and non-profit organizations.
Now in its 60th year, this Tulsa-based chain has more than 900 locations worldwide, and owes its success to a flour mix developed by founders Tommy and Lucille Day, which results in a distinctively lighter, fluffier doughnut. The trademark mix is produced in a central facility to keep quality consistent, and while the variety skews toward the classic, they do offer a Maple Bacon Long John and they’ll also allow you to request a special doughnut if you give them some notice. Make sure to stop in on the weekend, when the Tiger Tail — chocolate and regular raised doughnuts twisted together – is available.
With nearly 200 locations throughout the West and Midwest, Winchell’s is an example of down-home doughnut shops at their finest. The largest doughnut chain on the West Coast, it’s been making people happy since Verne Winchell opened the first location in 1948 in Temple City, Calif. Today, there are more than 70 offerings, and while they tend to stick to the classics, they do it very, very well.
flickr/ steve snodgrass
This Southern chain, still run by the Shipley family, has more than 250 locations in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama (most of which are in the Houston area), and has been cutting doughnuts (or “do-nuts”) by hand and frying them fresh throughout the day since 1936. The Plain Glazed is by far the best seller, even though more than 60 varieties are available, and they’re all made the same way they’ve always been. One thing that sets Shipley apart from the pack? They also sell kolaches, a filled pastry of Central European origin that’s a Texas specialty.
Founder Ray LaMar began perfecting his doughnut recipe in 1933, and in 1960 he brought them to the masses, opening a Kansas City doughnut shop that had people lining up out the door daily. Today there are 28 LaMar’s locations in six states, and a dedication to the original recipes and high-quality ingredients has let it to stand the test of time. The Original Glazed is a work of art: fried fresh, light and airy, not greasy, and not overly sweet.
Since first opening in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood in 2002, Top Pot has become a beloved institution with 19 area locations, thanks to its old-school aesthetic and outstanding doughnuts. Doughnuts here are “hand-forged” the old-fashioned way, based on a recipe from the 1920s, and while more than 40 different varieties are available, favorites include the classics, like the Old Fashioned, Chocolate Cake, Apple Fritter, and the “Feather Boa,” a cake doughnut topped with pink or chocolate icing and coconut shavings.