Who makes the best doughnut in Athens?

Though it has only been a year since it opened its doors on Broad Street, Zombie Coffee & Donuts has been making waves in the local Oconee/Athens community by offering a wide variety of premium donuts at competitive prices.

A pistachio doughnut from Ike and Jane's.

A pistachio doughnut from Ike and Jane.

The local franchise operates like a Subway or Chipotle for doughnuts, in that customers choose from multiple types of toppings to create a final product that reflects their ideal dessert — a truly bespoke doughnut.

Now that its first year has come and gone, the students of Oconee Journalism 2000 decided that it was time to find out whether the local favorite retains any of the hype.

A trial was set up where different local and national brands such as Ike and Jane (1307 Prince Ave., Athens), Dunkin’ Donuts (771 Prince Ave., Athens) Krispy Kreme (3703 Atlanta Highway, Bogart) and, of course, Zombie (350 E Broad St., Athens) were brought in and sampled by students. The flavor surveyors were unaware of where each particular doughnut came from until after the survey was over.

First was Ike and Jane, whose doughnuts weren’t as well received as the other brands’ offerings. Their red velvet doughnut was derided as “dry, dense and bland.” Another one of the participating students described their iced and sprinkled doughnut as “dry, with gamey sprinkles.” Ike and Jane left a lot to be desired in terms of overall quality.

Next was Krispy Kreme, whose doughnuts were “just as delectable as the company name implies,” according to students. The longstanding local favorite’s original glazed doughnuts were described as having a “predictable, nostalgic feeling,” delivering exactly what the students had come to expect.

Another Krispy Kreme offering that made an appearance was the heart-shaped chocolate glazed doughnut. “It’s buttery and gooey but sweet,” one said, extreme sweetness being a key to the Krispy Kreme flavor. A fellow classmate also gave her analysis of Krispy Kreme’s crème-filled selection, which was a “maple” undertone beneath the expected sweetness.

Dunkin’ Donuts’ chocolate iced and coconut doughnuts were also taste-tested by students with varying results. One student thought her doughnut was “almost soapy, thick and cakey,” while another thought that the coconut doughnut was also thick but more dense. While not fantastic in the wake of Krispy Kreme’s legendary quality, the Dunkin’ Donuts were deemed adequate in flavor; their specialty flavors in particular were well met compared to their more generic options.

Zombie offered by far the greatest breadth of flavors of the bunch. The local installation turned out odd toppings such as bacon but still came up with some stellar reviews.  Zombie’s lemon poppyseed doughnut tasted like “a sad muffin,” while their Oreo doughnut was “creamy, dense and buttery.”

Students also tried the almond doughnut but attested that “the chocolate glaze overpowered everything” and “it’s just sweet and rich.” Zombie’s unorthodox bacon doughnut carried with it a flavor that was “as expected,”  yet students were also quick to point out that that the traditional flavor combined with the bacon created a “taste dissonance,” evoking a greater depth of flavor than is usually expected from a doughnut.

Zombie’s Fruity Pebbles doughnut got reviews as colorful as the doughnut itself, with its flavor described as “sugary” and “tart” and “like funnel cake.”

After eating several varieties from the four brands, the final word was that Zombie had the best doughnuts on offer. Although some of their products brought a surprising twist in terms of ingredients, Zombie deftly outdid the competition and managed to impress the students in some way or another.

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