What’s round, colourful, and made for Instagram? Fancy doughnuts, of course!
OK, maybe they’re made for people like you and me to indulge in, a scrumptious sweet snack, right after we post a picture to the ‘gram, of course.
No one can deny fancy doughnuts are on the rise when there are two shops selling out on the same street, merely blocks apart, in one city. What is it about the doughnut — Homer Simpson’s favourite food — that is so appealing?
“Just look at them. They’re super fun,” says Ezra Edelstein, co-owner of Vandal Doughnuts on Gottingen Street in Halifax.
“We have people coming from around the world to buy our doughnuts, literally. We get messages all the time, about people driving from Moncton, or P.E.I., coming from Toronto, or the States to buy our doughnuts.”
Business is booming. Edelstein says mornings have become more reasonable in recent months, while the months of February to May were nuts.
“The summer definitely slows down a bit. It’s a really good time right now actually to walk in and just get a doughnut. You used to have to line up around the block. That will pick up again,” he says.
Jeremy Smith, co-owner of Fortune Doughnut, also on Gottingen Street, has been in the candy business for 18 years now.
“It seemed like a natural evolution for us.”
Smith opened the first Freak Lunchbox candy store on Barrington Street, but has never dealt in doughnuts.
Smith says it’s a similar business.
“People come in and they say ‘wow.’ It’s something sweet, it’s something easy and it’s something people get really excited about,” he says.
“It’s been trial and error. When you open a business, everyone’s very excited but we were still learning.
I think we are only now getting to the point where our doughnuts are the perfect height, they’re the perfect size. It took a little while to get it exact.”
Maelle Leger works behind the counter at Fortune Doughnuts. She says a big hobby is the doughnut crawl.
“People will come in and say ‘we’re testing yours and we’re testing Vandals.’ We see that a few times a day,” she says. “I think it’s a really fun activity, to come and get these doughnuts.”
Wild flavour combinations
There are new and wonderful flavour combinations coming out every day. The creativity is endless, and oh-so-Instagram worthy. Salty chip dip, lemon gummy fish, matcha green tea, pina colada, chocolate Lucky Charms, Fruit Loop dip, the list goes on. How do these shops come up with the different flavour combinations?
“It’s really interesting,” says Smith. “The dunk-a-roos one was just one of the other owners partner had mentioned that she remembered this from when she was a kid. It’s really just a brainstorming session between our employees and our decorators. It’s really endless, you can never stop coming up with ideas.”
At Vandal Doughnuts, a combination of sweet and salty is perfect for the undecided: the maple bacon bar.
“We try and reflect things happening in the world right now, use pop culture references,” says Edelstein. “We did the Avengers doughnut when the movie came out, stuff like that.”
Making fancy doughnuts even cooler than they already are, at Vandal you can stuff your doughnut with soft-serve ice cream.
“We’re the only people in Canada that have that attachment for our soft-serve machine,” says Edelstein. “You can get ice cream on top of a regular doughnut, but we also make some Bismark-style doughnuts that are designed to be filled with ice cream. We do a chocolate dip with a waffle cone crunch on the top. You can fill that doughnut with vanilla soft serve.”
If there’s any doubt about the demand for far-out, unique fried dough, Vandal Doughnut is opening a second location in downtown Dartmouth mid-August.