Donut shops are popping up major metro areas. What is driving this trend and are donuts the next cupcake?
What’s up with the donut shops? They are popping up like crazy in Chicago and other metro areas. The newest one in Chicago is Firecakes Donuts (I’ll stay mum about my thoughts on the name), which opened right down the street from the well-known Doughnut Vault, which is a fairly new shop itself–open only two years. The focus of these new shops is the “gourmet” donut, so not your grandma’s glazed yeast-raised version or a simple cake donut slathered with chocolate. If it does happened to slathered in chocolate, it’s called Triple Valrhona chocolate cake (in the case of Firecakes), because in the world of foodies, nothing is really simple.
I will admit when the donut first began to be tossed around as the next “it” product a few years ago, I was a bit skeptical. It may have been my own meh-ness towards the product (one too many tradeshows spent next to booths frying donuts on site), but donuts finally seem to be taking off–to some degree. I’m not seeing a whole lot of evidence that donut sales are booming in in-stores or other retail bakeries, but stand alone shops selling only donuts do seem to be all the rage.
I’m not sure what is driving the trend. There doesn’t seem to some sort of iconic cultural moment that we can point to say, “Yes, this is when it started,” as we have with cupcakes and the now infamous Sex and the City episode.
What I have noticed is something that associate editor Maggie Hennessy wrote about earlier in her post When chefs become bakers.... Both Firecakes and Donut Vault were opened by chef restaurateurs. Both had already opened restaurants in the neighborhood before turning to donuts. For some reason, chefs seem drawn to donuts, and we are the beneficiaries.