The Joys – and Dangers – of Making a Duck Donuts Run

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Imagine being a child, peering through the glass partition separating the Duck Donuts kitchen counter from the waiting area. How magical it must be to watch someone make donuts right in front of your eyes. You might not be able to see the batter get poured into shape, sent into a frying machine, and come out the other side as fresh donuts. But you can definitely see those donuts get dipped in icing, showered in sprinkles, and scribbled on with drizzle. Just think: soon, you’ll get to eat one of these.

Now imagine you’re an adult, and the wait for your donuts is creeping past the half-hour mark. You’re milling around in the front entryway, in what has become a veritable mosh pit. In front of you, a team of donut-making heroes looks desperately undermanned; behind you are murmurs of “not coming again” and “let’s just go.” You’re turning to your spouse and asking, “Should we just say screw it and leave?”

That’s the risk you assume when you stop at Duck Donuts. You could walk in on a Saturday morning, order four donuts and two beverages, and then wait nearly 40 minutes like we did. We almost never returned.

Let me be clear: the staff wasn’t to blame. They were practically working in fast-forward. Far as we can tell, they were so deep in tickets, nobody could even step away to make drinks. It wasn’t until someone else showed up and started her shift that we finally got our orders completed.

An email to Duck Donuts about this incident has thus far gone unanswered, but I’ve been back three times since  – a Friday morning, a Sunday early morning, and a Monday around noon. In each case, they were properly staffed and I had my orders within 5-7 minutes. You can also order ahead online, which I strongly suggest if time could be an issue.

These donuts are worth the precautions, and they’re worth second chances.

Beach Ball

The Duck Donuts website tells the story about Russ DiGilio, whose family would vacation in Duck, North Carolina. They wanted fresh donuts but couldn’t find any, so they began making their own. That was 2007. Per this City Pages story, the Dec. 8 opening of the Woodbury marked the 77th Duck Donuts location and 17th state with a Duck Donuts presence. They’ve got big dreams as a company – according to the franchising info page on their website, they’re set for over 200 locations and flags in 24 states, though a timeline for that wasn’t indicated on the page.

You can pick your own icing, topping, and drizzle, or choose from the menu. May I suggest “Frank’s Love Language,” a maple-frosted donut with bacon crumbles and chocolate drizzle? I’d also suggest simply saying “chocolate” three times and watching a donut with chocolate icing, chocolate drizzle, and chocolate sprinkles appear.

From the menu, Peanut Butter Promise (peanut butter icing and chocolate drizzle) and The Flip Flop (chocolate icing, vanilla drizzle) are simple and simply delicious. If you’re into sprinkles, the same can be said for the Beach Ball (vanilla icing, chocolate drizzle, colorful sprinkles). If you haven’t been so exploratory about donuts, or if you don’t have Instagram installed on your phone, the Blueberry Pancake and the Key Lime Pie donuts might seem a little unusual. Try them, though.

We still wouldn’t go back on a Saturday, and we still probably wouldn’t order specialty beverages again (the drip coffee is self-serve, and I like their Riptide Blend). But for now, the risks I’m most concerned about are eating donuts on the way home without getting the steering wheel sticky with icing, and whether or not “donuts for breakfast” is a good idea so many times in one week.

Well, we’re not kids peering over partitions anymore. We can have donuts for breakfast whenever we damn well please.

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