Friday, June 5, 2015

Doughnuts, Doughnuts, Doughnuts

First things first... Happy National Doughnut Day!

Free doughnuts abound today, but I haven’t gone to get one. In general, I’m not a huge fan. Now, if my grandmother were still around to make her homemade doughnuts I’d gladly partake in one (or a few). I also have fond memories of my late-father bringing home a box of chocolate covered doughnuts, which I’d sit and enjoy with him along with a glass of cold milk – I’d happily do that again too, if he were still here. The other options just aren’t worth it to me. I’d rather save the calories for tonight (it’s margarita night!).

But speaking of fond memories, nostalgia is actually a big reason for the rise in popularity of doughnuts in the United States – and the start of National Doughnut Day.

According to food historian John T. Edge the origins of the treat can be traced back to Europe, but the doughnut gained popularity in the United States when soldiers returned home during World War I. The Salvation Army would give out complimentary coffee and doughnuts, and when soldiers came home, they longed for the treat they’d been served by the “Salvation Army Doughnut Girls.”

National Doughnut Day began in 1938 as an ode to this wartime tradition.

I’m more a fan of today’s origins than I am of the actual treat. Yesterday I mentioned finding writing inspiration from everyday life and today is a perfect example of that. So many stories could stem from today! In fact...

***

I was determined not to cave. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a doughnut, and for good reason. Too many years of overindulgence and not giving a crap had taken its toll. When I finally woke up and realized what I’d done to my body by said overindulgence and not giving a crap, I had a heck of a lot of work to do to reverse it.

Through the process, I’d discovered it’s much easier to eat whatever you want than to work off the weight you could gain from eating whatever you want. When I was younger, I remember my grandmother – always svelte and always fashionable – telling me “a moment on your lips, forever on your hips.” Usually I’d be in the middle of one of those moments when she said this, with my hands slipping into the cookie jar or with chocolate ice cream smeared across my mouth like a kid’s version of lipstick. I never paid attention to the saying. I don’t think I even knew what it really meant.

Well, I learned. And now I consider it absolutely true. And that’s why I was determined to walk right past the doughnut shop that stood on the route between my office and home. Who gives out free doughnuts anyway? What cruel person decides to tempt people with the offer of a 300 calorie, fat and sugar laden sweet?

“Can I get sprinkles on my doughnut?”

I looked to my right, where a mom passed by with her three boys in tow – their pace was quicker than mine, which was to be expected with three kids anxious, I assumed, to reach Delilah’s Doughnuts.

“You can get whichever you want, honey!”

“So I can has Boston cream?”

“’Have’ Johnny. It’s ‘have.’ And of course!”

“I love Boston cream.”

Boston cream. I always loved a good Boston cream doughnut too. I smiled to myself at the kid’s choice. These days, with all the crazy flavors that were available, it seemed like a good ol’ Boston cream doughnut was less sought after, possibly heading down the same route as a plain old fashioned. It was a shame, really. Especially since I happened to know Delilah’s Doughnuts had the best Boston cream around.

My stomach rumbled in agreement, my lunch long gone. It figures some carefree kids who don’t waste time thinking about calories would walk past me while I was trying to talk myself out of temptation.

Then again... maybe it was a sign. After all, I’d changed so drastically that surely one little doughnut couldn’t hurt. It wasn’t like I was going to purchase an entire dozen and finish it off by myself – although Delilah’s would certainly make that easy to do. The doughnuts there are so good. But no. One Boston cream doughnut. That’s all.

I looked up just as the family that’d sped past disappeared into Delilah’s up ahead. I approached, still conflicted. Maybe I shouldn’t... 

The door opened and closed nonstop as people left with their spoils only to be replaced by others arrived for their own. As I neared, the sticky sweet smell of the desserts wafted over.

Instead of keeping my eyes focused straight ahead and passing the entrance to the shop like I’d originally planned, I glanced through the old fashioned bay window at the doughnuts arranged on cake stands. There were traditional types like glazed, old fashioned, chocolate sprinkles, colored sprinkles, toasted almond and powdered, and then some more unique flavors like maple bacon, orange ginger, coconut  fudge, strawberry-lavender, and a plethora of filled ones: lemon, apple pie, peanut butter and jelly, cookie dough, brownie, blueberry cream cheese, key lime pie and more – and of course, Boston cream. Paper bunting in bright colors was strung from one side to the other along with an equally bright banner that read “Happy National Doughnut Day!”

That’s it. I was going for it. Happy National Doughnut Day indeed! I turned to the left, following the scent of doughnuts, and pulled open the door. A bell jingled overhead, but it was unnecessary today; the place was packed and I doubt anyone working there needed a reminder there were customers.

Clearly I wasn’t the only one with doughnuts on the mind today. Whichever doughnut fanatic – or doughnut salesman – decided to dedicate an entire day to doughnuts was a marketing genius. I wouldn’t be surprised if every doughnut shop across the country had some kind of shrine to whoever it was for boosting their sales.

I got in line and took out my phone, determined to keep myself distracted while I waited so I wouldn’t get tempted into purchasing anything but my Boston cream. The tactic worked; a couple of emails and a few news articles later I approached the counter.

“One Boston cream please.”

“Sorry – we’re out.”

I looked at the girl, with her big dewy eyes, bouncy blonde ponytail, and pink Delilah’s shirt.

“What?”

“We don’t have any Boston cream doughnuts left.”

I blinked. She matched it with one of her own, her thick black lashes slowly closing and giving her cheeks a kiss.

“Oh.” There goes my theory about the Boston cream becoming less popular.

“Is there something else you want?”

Yes. One of each. But setting my thoughts on the Boston cream - and only the Boston cream – kept me from thinking about that. A vision of what my night could potentially include – me, sitting at home, binge watching Netflix while I simultaneously binged on Delilah’s doughnuts - crossed my mind.  

But that image was followed by what such a night would translate into as far as working out. Or, worse, what it could translate into if I didn’t work it off. The start of years – literally years - of working off past indulgences spiraling down the drain.

“A moment on the lips, forever on the hips.” Grandma’s voice ran through my mind.

Eyelash girl gave me another blink, pursed her lips and blew a giant, pink bubble that matched her shirt. Clearly she thought there was something wrong with me.

“Um. No, that’s ok. Thanks.”

I turned and left the shop hurriedly. How long had I been standing there? Ah well. Hopes of a Boston Cream dashed, I continued toward my home, thankful at least, that I now had the self-control to keep from buying practically the entire shop.

“You’d think with all those fancy flavors the Boston cream would go by the wayside. Although Delilah’s really does make the best Boston cream doughnuts around.”

I turned toward the voice and found myself looking into eyes the color of the glaze on one of the milk chocolate doughnuts - why did everything have to go back to food with me?  He had slightly tousled black hair and a fair complexion. He was wearing jeans and a checkered button up in different shades of blue with sleeves rolled to his elbows.

“I always thought the same thing! And yes – they really are the best.”

He gave me a smile – crooked, that created a dimple on one of his cheeks.

“I was in front of you at line. It was me.”

“Huh?”

“I got the last Boston Cream.”

“Oh...”

He reached into the tell-tale cream colored bag covered in pink polka dots and pulled out his doughnut with a piece of tissue paper. Great. So not only did I not get the doughnut I wanted, but the person who did get it is about to eat it right in front of me. He may be handsome,  but still... what kind of a cruel joke was this?!

Instead of taking a bite of it, he held it out toward me.

I must have given him the same look I gave the girl behind the counter, because he let out a deep laugh.

“Take it. I just left the shop – it’s not like I had time to poison it or anything.”

“It’s not that – it’s the last one! It’s yours!”

He shook his head. “Take it.”

I listened, taking the doughnut from his hands.

“Besides, it was one of the last ones... I got both of them.” His smile turned into a grin that made the matching dimple appear on his other cheek as he reached back into the bag an took out another doughnut.

“Seriously?!” I gave him a grin in return. Was this really happening right now?

“Cheers,” he said, holding his doughnut out toward mine. We touched the two of them together, then took a bite, and continued up the street side by side.

Best 300 calories I ever had. 

***
Inspiration is everywhere.

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