Let’s Not Make Doughnuts The New Cupcakes (A Plea for Sanity)

Don't make doughnuts the new cupcakes

It was almost a year ago to the day that we (and the stock market) declared the cupcake boom to be dead as a doornail, having been finally been beaten into the ground by countless twee bakeries, and more importantly, the clear ascendance of the doughnut as a trend dessert. Since then, the cronut has acted as a temporary distraction (that is, to people who find themselves easily distracted by celebrity pastries), but the trajectory we’re on is clear as day: doughnuts are becoming the new cupcakes. And it’s a movement that has to be stopped at all costs.

Just yesterday, Gothamist posted about Doughbot, a new app that charges you 99 cents for the ability to, um, locate nearby doughnuts. Like so:

Doughbot scans Instagram, Yelp and Yahoo to connect users with the artisanal doughnut of their dreams, at the shortest distance. The app costs 99 cents, which is roughly the same price as the aforementioned crappy dough circle and about a third what you can expect to pay for the luxury variety.

Now, objectively, I know a cutesy stunt app when I see one, and if any significant portion of New York’s population develops any kind of dependence on Doughbot, well, I’ll owe somebody a Coke (and not a doughnut). But the fact that it was made at all is a troubling harbinger of overwrought doughnut-frenzy yet to come. Put it this way: how embarrassed would you be for yourself these days if you’d paid money for a cupcake-finder app in say, 2007? Exactly.

If you think about it, there was never any real hope for cupcakes. They were always a little pointless, the fare of children’s birthday parties and a questionable substitution for non-cupped cake long before their association with women who have strong feelings about whether they identify as a Carrie or more of a Charlotte. Not so with the doughnut. The doughnut is a quintessential quotidian dessert, an everyman pastry, the territory of Homer Simpson and a century’s worth of cops (just last week I saw an NYPD van screech to a halt to make a pit stop at a Bushwick Dunkin’ Donuts).

But then, to wax too fondly about the doughnut is to be part of the problem, not part of the solution. The more bakeries that make quality doughnuts, the better, but we can greet them with calm, pleased acceptance instead of mass hysteria. They are not life changing, a thing you will die if you don’t eat right now, a thing you should ever wait in line or pay more than a few bucks for. Doesn’t mean you can’t go out of your way to get a particularly good one—why live in New York if not to go out of your way for special things?—but it probably does mean you don’t need an entire goddamn app, either. It is a doughnut, nothing more, nothing less. And we hear there are rats on some of them, anyway.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

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  1. that app is crazy. not as crazy as the $4 app that tells you where to stand on the train platform so you’ll be close to the right exit when you get off, but still. I suppose it might be of some use if you were in a town you weren’t familiar with, but you can already use yelp for that.

    there’s a printed “donut map” that gets sold for some amount of money it isn’t worth. I might pay for a donut map that had -every- place I could get a donut on it (like puerto rican and greek bakeries or donutshop style diners and stuff) but the one they sell is basically just the first page of links when you google ‘donut nyc’.

  2. ps: there’s a donut shop in michigan run by ex cops called Cops and Doughnuts. I just think everyone should know that.