When Square Donuts opened in downtown Indy last year, I was instantly enamored. Not by the donuts in a different shape, but by their PB&J donut. I’d never had a PB&J donut and I live for all things peanut butter. I was instantly smitten. Not to mention the man behind the counter at Square Donuts on weekends is a charmer. He asked me if the Miss America pageant was in town the last Saturday I dropped in.
Fast forward to July 10, 2014. There’s a new donut shop in town...the General American Donut Co. on East Street near Fountain Square. Yeasty, sweet smells were wafting down East Street today. I tried to grab donuts there this morning, but after waiting in line for 25 minutes (and getting a parking ticket!), only three people had left with donuts and the line hadn’t moved but a few feet. I walked to the front of the line, caught a glimpse at the donuts, and left for work. The case contained just a few donuts, priced between $2.25 and $3.00 each. They were mostly a bourbon flavored donut, evidently the slow seller of the morning. The donuts were being pulled from racks closer to the kitchen and boxed.
The line at the General American Donut Co. at 7:30 a.m. today.
At lunchtime, my kind husband brought a sampling of what he purchased after waiting in the line (and remnants of what he'd already snacked on) to my office, including the General American Donut Co. version of the PB&J donut. Instantly, I knew it…it was time for a PB&J donut throwdown! And General American Donut Co. had a formidable foe. My dad, while visiting from Kentucky, once said that the chocolate donut with vanilla filling from Square Donuts was the best donut he’d ever tasted.
Recently I purchased a box of Square Donuts to take to the Pride Parade. I made sure to grab the PB&J donut after I arrived since it’s my favorite. Square Donuts has the expected flavors…glazed, chocolate, maple, strawberry, sprinkles. Everything is lined up in the case. They have coffee servers, but I’m never sure whether there’s coffee ready in them on Saturdays. I’ve never seen someone pour a cup.
My recent assortment of Square Donuts. The PB&J donut is in the second row, third from left.
The assortment Greg brought to my office today included a bite of the General American Donut Co. cronut, half a sour cream donut, a PB&J donut, and a donut dipped in oat and nut topping. The crunchy donut was like a wolf in sheep’s clothing…it looked healthy but deep down you knew it was still frosting and pastry in a granola costume. I’m totally okay with donuts not being healthy. The sour cream donut was huge and hearty, and the sour cream scent was distinctive. Sometimes it’s hard to detect the sour cream flavor.
The assortment of General American Donut Co. donuts. The PB&J donut is the whole donut in the center.
So…comparison time. The Square PB&J donut has a sleek frosted exterior that tastes sweet. Inside is light and airy, with a small pocket of jelly. The General American Donut Co. donut is heavier. Unquestionably, it has more mass than the Square Donut Co. donut. The peanut butter topping, not really frosting, isn’t sweet and has a grainier texture, likely a nod to General American Donut Co.’s commitment to natural ingredients. Inside, the donut is bread-like, not airy. It has about triple the amount of jelly compared to the Square donut.
Overall, the winner of this throwdown is the PB&J donut from Square Donuts. It is airy and light, like a yeast donut should be. The General American Donut Co. PB&J donut is more than twice the price of the Square donut and too dense to win. General American Donut gets props for having lots of jelly and not having artificial ingredients, but I’ll take the risk that the peanut butter icing at Square contains something artificial. This comparison is like eating a spoonful of Jiff, then a spoonful of all natural peanut butter. The natural one tastes fine and you know it’s not as bad for you…but you go back for a second spoonful of Jiff in all its sweetened glory.
Looks like Square Donuts still isn’t cutting corners on their PB&J donut. I’ll be back soon for more of those. And welcome to the neighborhood, General American Donut Co. I might be back if the line is moving faster after you get the kinks worked out. While you get bonus points for having espresso drinks on the menu, this isn’t the cronut line in New York City. I don’t get up early enough to wait an hour for donuts.