Kinnikinnick’s Donuts — Chocolate-Glazed and Vanilla-Glazed Review! (GFCF)
I used to live a few miles away from a Krispy Kreme donut shop. Before my son Wesley was born, my older two boys and I would spend a good hour+ there, at least every other week or so, watching through the giant plate glass windows as the donuts were being made, often receiving free, fresh, hot donuts as we waited in line. Then, we’d linger over another sweet morsel or two, washing it down with milk. Mmm…
Almost eight years ago, when Wesley was 13 months, he was diagnosed with celiac disease. On one hand, this was GREAT news, because he had been horribly ill for his entire first year of life, and I felt like CD was something very controllable, and with a good prognosis; he did, indeed, rapidly and beautifully gain health that he had never had, on a gluten-free diet. On the other hand, after I explained to my older two boys what it was that dear Wes had, and what it would mean for our family, Ethan burst into tears, “Does that mean we won’t go to Krispy Kreme any more??”
Yes, his first concern was for the donuts. He was only five years old, bless his heart, and a loss of donuts seemed of much more imminent concern than his infant brother’s health.
Even though Krispy Kreme is best-known for their raised glazed donuts, my favorites — back to my own childhood — have always been cake donuts. This is an especially serendipitous thing, as the best gluten-free donuts are of the cake variety. At least, the ones I’ve made, and the ones I’ve tried.
The best of the readily-available ones are most certainly those made by Kinnikinnick.
My stepdad works very close to a local gluten-free bakery, and he picks up a treat for us from time to time. Once, it was a 4-pack of their Insane Chocolate Donuts. While my inner-chocolate-lover was very satisfied by the triple-chocolate gooeyness of the donuts, even as I was enjoying them, I thought, “They’re not as donutty as Kinnikinnick’s.” The local donuts are more like tubular-shaped muffins or cake, topped with yummy stuff; they just didn’t have a donut texture. Plus, they’re more expensive.
Still, Kinnikinnick’s donuts are too pricey for regular consumption by my one-income family.
They have four flavors, and each box has a six-pack, for a total of 11.30 ounces, and locally, they run about $6/box. (They’re available at Fry’s, Sprouts, and Whole Foods in the Phoenix area — least expensive at Sprouts. They’re probably at other stores, too, but I’m certain that the donuts are at those three stores, at least.) So, we buy them for an occasional birthday, or as a treat on the road to kick off a family trip, or something like that. Honestly, we only buy about 2-3 boxes a year.
So, when Kinnikinnick’s PR company contacted me, asking me if I wanted to review the donuts, I quickly agreed. I was honest: I let the contact person know that I already knew that I liked the donuts, but that normally, they’re not in my budget. Still, it’s hard to turn down “samples.”
I was surprised at how well the donuts shipped. They’re shipped FROZEN from Canada, and even though it was in early May when they arrived, Phoenix is smack-dab in the Sonoran Desert, I was sure they’d be a melted mess. They weren’t.
And, it turned out my “samples” were FOUR BOXES, two each of vanilla glazed and chocolate glazed.
For texture (which can be really hard to get “just right” in gluten-free products), Kinnikinnick hits the nail on the cake-donut-head. They’re the way cake donuts should be, with ample chewy/breadiness; they don’t have the super-soft texture of a muffin or cake.
They’re sweet, but not too much; some baked goods that are supposed to be breakfast foods are so cloyingly sugary that I would never consider them as breakfast foods — only for dessert. Each Kinnikinnick donut has 17 grams of sugar, which is more than we’d normally consume for a breakfast, but certainly not an unreasonable amount of sugar. Or fat — each donut has five grams (from unhydrogenated palm oil).
It appears that Kinnikinnick uses the same donut base, then adds the topping — they have cinnamon sugar and maple-glazed, in addition to chocolate and vanilla. Oddly enough, even the chocolate donuts have a distinctive nutmeg flavor. My four-year-old said, approvingly, “They taste like egg nog!” I checked the ingredients, and nutmeg is the very last ingredient. Now, I love nutmeg, but it seemed a slightly odd choice of spices, especially for the chocolate donuts. The nutmeg flavor worked better in the vanilla donuts, but I still wish it had MORE vanilla, and less nutmeg (or no nutmeg).
My lone wish for the improvement of these donuts is to make the flavors more distinctive: Make the vanilla ones REALLY vanilla-y. Make the chocolate ones with chocolate dough, not just brown, chocolate-like frosting, whose last ingredient is cocoa powder.
The good news about the ingredients, though, is that it appears that Kinnikinnick is making significant improvements in their choices of ingredients. For YEARS, it has been my opinion that the company consistently produces the best-tasting gluten-free foods. However, they were also quite liberal with the odd, chemically-derived ingredients. Now, though I still don’t think these donuts fit the “whole foods” category, they’re at least markedly improved. I only had to look up one ingredient (glucono delta lactone – a “naturally-occuring” food acidifier, according to Wikipedia) to find out what it was; everything else was known to me and more or less natural. Even their maple-glazed donuts — which I usually RUN from, as fake-maple turns my stomach — do not contain artificial colors or flavors, which is a fairly recent improvement.
Had I paid for the donuts myself, with shipping, my four-box shipment of donuts would have cost me $36.36 (Kinnikinnick has a flat-rate $10 shipping fee). To me, that seems insanely expensive. There is no way I would ever pay that. But, for someone in a far-flung rural setting, who hasn’t had a proper donut in a decade, due to celiac disease, that may seem like a great deal.
So… the short version of this review is:
Texture: 5/5 stars
Taste: 3.5/5 stars
Cost: 1.5/5 stars
The donuts are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, trans-fat-free, and produced in a dedicated facility that is gluten-, peanut-, and tree nut-free.