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Breaking Down the Brownie Filled Donut

February 7, 2013

Donuts are terrible for you, but I love them so much. I love donuts that are impossibly light and fluffy with a thin sweet glaze that cracks and shatters as you bite down upon it. I love crusty cake donuts that are dense, rich and have just a touch of warming sweet spice. I love donuts dusted with powdered sugar that leave their tell-tale trail of joy on your clothes, fingers and face.

I love donuts that are filled with jelly and custard. Donuts that are frosted with chocolate or maple. I love donuts simple and old fashioned. I love modern interpretations of donuts that can be fanciful and topped with bacon or even flowers. And of course I love the cider donuts that we have up here in apple country.

Which is why every time I pass by a Dunkin’ Donuts a little piece of me dies. Every time a see a photograph of a Dunkin’ dozen being enjoyed by some otherwise sensible human being, I silently weep a little bit for humanity.

The Dunkin’ marketing machine is now clearly in overdrive, because I’m seeing lots of people who I know, admire and respect gushing about the new creation that the wizards at this large soul-sucking national chain have created.

Do you know how many ingredients it takes to make a donut? Eight. Not including the brownie batter filling or any toppings, do you have any idea how many ingredients Dunkin’ requires just for the donut? Take a guess. Write it down. Then click through.

The answer is thirty four. What was your guess?

Although you might have a difficult time untangling that data from this massive list of ingredients that combines the donut, the filling, the frosting, and the sprinkles. I especially find it upsetting that the donut has something called “Yeast Donut Concentrate” which has 21 ingredients but Soy Flour tops the list. It’s also cute to try and combine five different food gums into one ingredient called “Gum Blend”. Doesn’t that sound delicious.

Here’s the whole incomprehensible heap of ingredients. Just gaze upon it in all of its scientific glory. Don’t worry, I’ll help you make sense of all of it in just a minute.

Donut: Enriched Wheat Flour (Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Palm Oil, Yeast Donut Concentrate [Soy Flour, Pregelatinized Wheat Starch, Salt, Whey (Milk), Baking Soda, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Nonfat Milk, Gum Blend (Cellulose, Guar, Acacia, Carrageenan, Xanthan), Sodium Caseinate (Milk), Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Eggs, Soybean Oil, Annatto (Color), Natural and Artificial Flavor, Soy Lecithin, Turmeric (Color)], Dextrose, Soybean Oil, Yeast, Mono and Diglycerides; Brownie Batter Buttercreme Filling: Sugar, Vegetable Shortening (Palm Oil, Canola Oil), Water, Cocoa processed with alkali, Cocoa, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Contains 2% or less of the following: Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Mono and Diglycerides, Salt, Polysorbate 60, Citric Acid, Soy Lecithin, Potassium Sorbate (Preservative), Sodium Propionate (Preservative), Artificial Flavor; Chocolate Icing: Sugar, Water, Cocoa, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Soybean Oil, Corn Syrup, Contains 2% or less of: Maltodextrin, Dextrose, Corn Starch, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil, Salt, Potassium Sorbate and Sodium Propionate (Preservatives), Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier), Artificial Flavor, Agar; White Sprinkles: Sugar, Corn Starch Vegetable Oil (Palm Kernel Oil and/or Palm Oil), Soy Lecithin, Dextrin, Confectioner’s Glaze, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Carnauba Wax.

Donut – 34 ingredients: 
Enriched Wheat Flour:
– Flour
– Malted Barley Flour
– Niacin
– Reduced Iron
– Thiamin Mononitrate
– Riboflavin
– Folic Acid
Palm Oil
Yeast Donut Concentrate:
Soy Flour
Pregelatinized Wheat Starch
– Salt
– Whey (Milk)
– Baking Soda
Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate
– Nonfat Milk
– Gum Blend (Cellulose, Guar, Acacia, Carrageenan, Xanthan)
– Sodium Caseinate (Milk)
Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate
– Eggs
Soybean Oil
– Annatto (Color)
Natural and Artificial Flavor
Soy Lecithin
– Turmeric (Color)
Soybean Oil
Mono and Diglycerides

Well, at least this helps me understand why their donuts aren’t very good. Soy flour? And that’s artificial flavor in the dough! They can’t make their dough taste like dough? Or is it just to cover up the flavor of the other junk? Wow. I wouldn’t eat these if they were free. And I certainly wouldn’t pay money for the privilege of eating their science.

Brownie Batter Buttercreme Filling – 18 ingredients:
Vegetable Shortening (Palm Oil, Canola Oil)
Cocoa processed with alkali
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Corn Syrup
Mono and Diglycerides
Polysorbate 60
Citric Acid
Soy Lecithin
Potassium Sorbate (Preservative)
Sodium Propionate (Preservative)
Artificial Flavor

You know what this is? Sweetened shortening with cocoa. That’s not how my mamma made brownies. The only reason this might taste like brownies is because of the artificial flavor. At least with two different preservatives in the stuff, you know that it can sit around in the back of Dunkin’ for a good long time. That’s appetizing, right?

Chocolate Icing – 16 ingredients:
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Soybean Oil
Corn Syrup
Corn Starch
Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/or Cottonseed Oil
Potassium Sorbate (Preservative)
Sodium Propionate (Preservative)
Soy Lecithin (Emulsifier)
Artificial Flavor

You really need four different kinds of sugar to make icing? Now I think they are just showing off. And don’t forget the partially hydrogenated oils (both from heavily planted GMO crops). That means even if they can report zero grams of trans-fat there is still nasty trans fats in these donuts. Just too little to register in one serving. If you eat two or more donuts that figure increases.

White Sprinkles – 9 ingredients:
Corn Starch
Vegetable Oil (Palm Kernel Oil and/or Palm Oil)
Soy Lecithin
Confectioner’s Glaze
Natural and Artificial Flavor
Carnauba Wax

For a second I thought they might have left the soy out of the sprinkles. But no, Dunkin was able to get soy in every component of this donut. I suppose by now you expected corn to be in everything. Oddly, there is no obvious source of corn in the donut itself. However, the dextrose has a good chance of being derived from this ubiquitous building block of the modern American diet.

Look. It’s a free country. You want to eat these things, please, be my guest. However, I just ask that you eat these being fully aware of what you are putting into your body.

Not because it’s unhealthy. All donuts are unhealthy on their face.

No, I’d urge you to avoid these round fried creations of food scientists and chemists because they only bear a passing resemblance at best to a real donut. And the problem is that if we keep eating these things, and trying to convince ourselves that Dunkin’s shelves are filled with actual donuts, we might eventually start believing it.

Please think about this the next time someone sets out a box of these horrors. It’s perfectly fine to politely say, “no thank you.” You can even claim to be on a diet. But given how bad any donut is for you, when you choose to indulge, you should see to it that the donut you eat is magnificent.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. February 7, 2013 10:24 am

    My total cholesterol just shot up to 600.

  2. February 7, 2013 10:32 am

    Gushing?!? You thought I was gushing? I thought the thing was disgusting. I was attempting to thoroughly lampoon the thing. If the phrase “Taking a bite is to look into the void” came off as gushing, I apologize.

    I look at things like that donut as fascinating because they are so strange, I intended no endorsement. Perhaps I needed to be a bit more clear…

    • Bob W. permalink
      February 7, 2013 11:43 am

      I thought your distain was pretty clear…and I, indeed, had a mighty chuckle at “Taking a bite is to look into the void.” Also enjoyed “Brownie batter available at will is a world gone mad.”

    • RandyF permalink
      February 7, 2013 12:04 pm

      I don’t think you need to be more clear Mr Dave. Your feelings seemed obvious enough to me- even if a little tongue in cheek.

      Hey Fussypants, did you read his post? Are you really so eager to be a negative Fussypants or to do have some sort of ADHD reading disorder that doesn’t allow you pick up on others feelings? I have to agree with you however on the Dunkin ingredients- they don’t look so good for you (or anything outside of a chemistry lab). I used to refer to discarded styrofoam Dunkin cups as “New England Tumble weed”. I didn’t realize it would spread like a weed.

  3. Megan permalink
    February 7, 2013 11:36 am

    Ew. If this is what’s in the doughnut, I don’t want to know what is in the “Red Velvet Latte” they recently came out with. Every time I hear the commercial part of me wonders if the Red Dye #40 would kill me.

  4. -R. permalink
    February 7, 2013 11:44 am

    Albeit the fact someone will bring a box-o-Dunkin dognuts into work once or twice a week, I thoroughly avoid them. Eating one is akin to licking out the bottom of my childhood chemistry set – they leave a completely astringent aftertaste in my mouth which takes hours to dissipate. Utterly vile on every level.

    You want a donut, try the absolutely divine glazed donuts from The Cookie Factory in Troy. If you can’t taste the difference, you shouldn’t be reading this blog.

  5. February 7, 2013 11:52 am


  6. February 7, 2013 12:00 pm

    Admittedly, for most people, they’re the only “good” doughnut they’ve had. (“Good” in this case means “tastier than the crappy ones in a box at the grocery store.”) Until there are more makers of actually-good doughnuts around here, in places closer to where we live, that’s not likely to change.

  7. February 7, 2013 12:03 pm

    I come from a land that is still filled with mom and shop doughnut shops. The Doughnut Stop, Donuts & More, Donut Delite…the Dunkin Donuts are few and far between in my Midwestern hometown. Out there the donuts taste like the ones my mom made (only better because they can make a mean Long John, which is a little advanced for a home kitchen). There were no gimmicks and likely no ‘gum blend’. They were real donuts that tasted like donuts. Shocking! I am appalled at the success of Dunkin out here considering they don’t even come close to tasting like real donuts. I’m not huge on sugar anyway so when I do consume it, I want it to be worthwhile. One of these weekends I will make the drive to try a King’s donut.

  8. February 7, 2013 12:16 pm

    From one who doesn’t eat donuts; where would you instead recommend one get their fix?

  9. Mike permalink
    February 7, 2013 2:50 pm

    If you want a great donut, head over to the Schuyler Bakery in Watervliet. Their jelly donuts and “sinkers” are great. May as well pick up some cinnamon raisin bread and those rectangular buns with the white frosting while you are there too. You will never be tempted to go to Dunkin again.

    • Eric Scheirer Stott permalink
      February 7, 2013 6:17 pm

      I agree – Schuyler makes a fine doughnut, certainly when you factor in the very low price. And thanks for mentioning those iced raisin buns- I have an inappropriate desire for one right now.

  10. February 7, 2013 5:15 pm

    I live in Japan and there are Dunkin’ Donuts all over the place. Poor Japan.

  11. Jessica R permalink
    February 8, 2013 1:28 pm

    Dear god, I ate one of these things two hours ago! :-(

    • February 8, 2013 1:36 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear that. You should forward this story to everyone you know. Paste it on your Facebook wall. Tweet about it. Pin it. Text it. Print it out and tape it up in the break room at work. And let’s hope that what happened to you doesn’t have to happen to anyone else. ;^)

  12. Eniale permalink
    February 13, 2022 11:38 am

    Oh dear lord, what a load of utter drivel.

    “Waaaah soy and chemicals are scawy!!!”

    Give me a break. You’re going to end up in the exact same place as everyone who eats these donuts – six feet under, or pulverized onto bone dust.

    Your body is made up of about 60 chemical elements – and that is only elements. I am intentionally not including chemical compounds because many of them are in use for complex functions, which is an unfair comparison. No, I am simply referring to the chemicals that make up the base meat of your carcass.

    People whose understanding of science is leftover from high school chemistry that they got a C in twenty years ago shouldn’t talk about ingredients in food.

    • February 13, 2022 12:33 pm

      Thank you for commenting. It sounds like you may have taken away a different message from this post than intended. I can understand. It was long, and the message may have gotten buried under the avalanche of ingredients in these “donuts”.

      If I may, here is a quote from the end of this post, which sums it up nicely (if incompletely),

      “You want to eat these things, please, be my guest. However, I just ask that you eat these being fully aware of what you are putting into your body.

      Not because it’s unhealthy. All donuts are unhealthy on their face.

      No, I’d urge you to avoid these round fried creations of food scientists and chemists because they only bear a passing resemblance at best to a real donut.”

      At the end of the day, Dunkin’ Donuts simply taste terrible. All of the words that preceded were to get to the bottom of why they are horrid and an insult to donuts.

      But you know, if you want to eat them, go do you. I’d just encourage you to find a well made donut from an old fashioned shop. If you can, try one side by side one of these mass market monstrosities. My bet is you won’t be able to go back.

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