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Month: February 2016

The Great Donut-Off: Old-Fashioned Edition

The subject matter of this post was originally posted in December 2015. When the blog was wiped out because of what I can only imagine was karma for all the times I’ve said I was not feeling well to avoid social situations, inciting a chain-reaction of water flooding my computer (the details aren’t important), this post got erased. Dismissing those who told me to move on, it has now been rewritten because that is how much I cannot bear to see people eat terrible donuts.

One of the major motivations behind creating this blog was that I noticed many of the popular food Instagrammers were promoting eateries that were just…not good. This — dare I say — deception was particularly rampant with donuts. Three Times Per Day was designed for you, reader, as a place to get the tried-and-tested, not-for-sale truth. (And as a personal creative outlet for myself.)

In the spirit of this mission, I decided to put my biology degree to good use and craft a double-blind (well, almost) experiment to determine who in Chicago makes the best plain Old-Fashioned donut. So stop reading about the upcoming Presidential election and focus on the more important issue-at-hand.

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Experimental Design

On Sunday morning, along with all of the others attending houses of worship, PIF and I woke up early and headed out into the crisp air to begin collecting the test subjects. The week before, I had carefully selected the competitors and mapped our route by which we would collect each specimen: Stan’s, Firecakes, Glazed & Infused, Do-Rite, and Doughnut Vault.

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One-by-one, I bought old-fashioned donuts from the 5 different locations and tucked them away into my inconspicuous bag, so as to not give myself away at any of the shops, as if any of them knew or cared who I was. Along the way, we met the self-proclaimed “Mayor of Lincoln Park,” a rough Italian-ish man whose brother owns Mista Pizza in Lakeview and who runs a fishing boat during the summer months, which he said he sells to various restaurants along Diversey. Do with that information what you will.

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Once we arrived home, I set up the experiment. Careful measures were taken throughout to preserve the integrity of the experiment. For example, PIF was not allowed into any of the shops lest he see the donuts (or break something) and be able to identify them later. Likewise, I was careful to not stare at any of the donuts while waiting to order, a skill I had mastered from years of being too absorbed in my phone.

Each donut was assigned a number randomly and I quickly scratched the coordinating bakery and number on a piece of paper before squirreling it away in the credenza. Then each donut was placed with their number on the table.

This picture is so much uglier than the others and contrasts with the professional vibe I was going for, but serves a practical purpose.

The experiment would go as follows:

Each donut was cut into fours. Each study participant would be given a slip of paper and a writing utensil and would then try each donut, ranking them from 1 (best) to 5 (worst) on their slip of paper. To control for the fact that sweets tend to not taste as good the more you eat, or so I hear this happens to people, each participant would need to taste test in a different order. No participant (except PIF and myself) would even be aware of where we obtained the donuts from.

Though I only had 5 participants lined up, including myself, the group represented the full spectrum of eaters: the non-American with a sweet tooth, the health-conscious hippie, the hungover guy, the stoner, and, of course, the critical foodie.

Since some of us were running a little late that morning (you can guess which two), the rest of us headed to grab some breakfast before we began (which, I might add, only further solidified me having no clue which was which). Once we returned and all the study participants had arrived, I recited the instructions and we began the experiment.

Data Collection & Analysis

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In differing order, each study participant tasted and privately ranked each sample. Once finished, the papers were collected and scores were entered into Excel.

Each rank represented a certain number of points. The donut ranked as the best received 5 points, the second best received 4 points and so on, with the worst donut receiving only 1 point. These points were then tallied per bakery. The bakery receiving the highest number of points would then be the winner and the one receiving the least would be the worst of the bunch. The results were as follows:

Conclusion

The winner of best old-fashioned in Chicago was…Firecakes! Followed extremely closely by Do-Rite, Doughnut Vault, and Glazed & Infused. So closely, in fact, that a single vote could have changed the order or even the winner. There was, however, decidedly a loser. And that loser was Stan’s.

We’ll be back to increase our “N” size and perform more experiments with other flavors. Until then…have thoughts on the result? Have a flavor/style you want reviewed next? Share in the comments!

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