I’ve finally emerged from my sugar-induced coma, and I’m armed with the results from Saturday’s Donut Deathmatch. Tragically, World’s Fair Doughnuts was closed for vacation, so the four remaining contenders were Donut Drive-In, St. Louis Hills Donut Shop, Doughnut Cupboard, and the readers’ choice was John Donuts on Broadway.
I’m a little obsessive-compulsive, so I created a questionnaire to be completed by each taster for each donut consumed. Donuts were rated on a scale of one to five in areas of taste, texture and quality of icing or glaze. As there were four tasters, a perfect score would have earned 60 points. Though tasters attempted to try the same sort of donut from each shop, it wasn’t always possible as the shops have periods of shortages during busy times of the morning, but I think we got a pretty good gauge of donut quality anyway. Without further ado, the results:
- #4: John Donuts, score: 32. Donuts were good, nothing special. Earning a lot of threes in all categories, they were solidly ordinary, but tasty nonetheless. One taster noted “Not enough sugar in glaze.” I was fond of the kitschy Superman interior and good coffee.
- 3: Donut Drive-In, score: 34. I was profoundy disappointed in this one. I had been told by too many people to count how life-altering amazing these donuts were, but they were nothing more than pedestrian. Okay, but not great. A taster particularly enjoyed the light crispy edges on his iced glazed donut. Meanwhile, I was entertained by my chocolate Long John that had been festooned with not only sprinkles, but an orange iced smiley face, too.
- #2: Doughnut Cupboard, score: 46. The runner up had light and sweet cake donuts, earning fours and fives for taste. Icing was rich, and there wasn’t a trace of grease in the bottom of the box after our rampage. Over the course of the day, I managed to force down three and a half of them. What I do for science.
- #1: St. Louis Hills Donuts, score: 54. Nestled in a small green shack on Hampton Avenue, this little hovel has the best donuts in St. Louis. It’s a mass of humanity crammed in the 10-square feet allotted to customers, and you have to get precariously close to your neighbors’ nether regions to get a gander at the trays of fried goodness on offer, but the too-close-for-comfort ordering process is so worth it. We ate like pigs in the parking lot, marveling at the light but doughy texture of the cake donuts, the liberal slather of creamy icing, and heavenly sweet-but-not-too-sweet flavor. Washed down with milk and the morning’s best steaming cup of coffee, a couple of these donuts is the perfect way to start the weekend. If God made donuts on Saturday mornings, this is what they would taste like. Earning 15s from three tasters and the comment, “Perfect donut,” I’m confident we have a winner.
Disagree? Want to try it yourself? Here are the stops along the way:
Donut Drive-In, 6525 Chippewa St., St. Louis, MO 63109 314/645-7714
Doughnut Cupboard, 1115 North Lindbergh, Florissant, MO 63031 314/921-1105
John Donuts, 1618 South Broadway, St. Louis, MO 63104
St. Louis Hills Donut Shop, 6917 Hampton Ave., St. Louis, MO 63109