I leave for work at six in the what-in-gods-name-am-I-doing-at-this-time-in-the morning. It’s not a choice I make freely. If I wait any longer than that, my 35 minute commute expands exponentially as the morning drags on.
At the end of my drive, about a mile away from my workplace, sits an unobtrusive plaza, with an unobtrusive donut shop. The shop is so unobtrusive, that it took me several months to even notice it existed, and several more before I thought that it might be in my interest to see what wares they sell.
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Donuts and other related pastries such as apple fritters, bear claws and crullers are odd beasts. Much like cheese, sausage and a plethora of other examples, the tradition and taste of donuts has been blasphemed by the likes of Hostess, the bakeries of Safeway, Kroger’s and the countless other companies who feel the urge to wrap donuts in cellophane and allow them to sit in vending machines for months on end.
Located in a vending machine not 30 steps from my office is a package containing a “cinnamon roll”. It has been there since the new vending machine was put in place in late April. I can tell you, without opening this package, how it will taste. The icing, with its solid stark white color, will be overly sweet, designed to cover-up the fact that the pastry portion of the roll will be dense, dry and taste of styrofoam. Each bite taken from the roll will be a chore, with it taking up to 3 or 4 minutes to fully masticate the pastry to the point where I can even get it down my throat. Afterwards, each bite will sit like a stone deep within the recess of my stomach, painfully reminding me for the rest of the day that I had made an unwise eating decision.
I can make this guess on how this pastry will taste because 99% of every donut, maple bar, cinnamon roll, crueller, bear claw, danish or apple fritter made to sit upon a shelf for a period longer than two days tastes this way. A dense, stale donut is a bad donut.
The donut has earned its place in pop culture history. It’s iconic. Police are supposed to love them. Homer Simpson eats several a day. In the Route 66 of my imagination, I see one or two donut shops with 30 foot donuts placed above, alerting travelers on where to get their sugar buzz.
I have no evidence to prove this, but I think that this icon has seen better days. I don’t see as many donut shops as I used to. Outside of a business meeting or two I don’t hear of people eating donuts much anymore. Long ago, I can recall of special Saturday mornings where a dozen or so were brought home, now a donut is something that is purchased singularly, alongside the Caff Latte.