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June 7, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Whether they’re drizzled with sugary icing, filled with oozing custard or loaded with sprinkles, doughnuts are a treat almost everyone loves. Just ask Homer Simpson. Columbia doesn’t have the well-known shops such as Dunkin’ Donuts or Krispy Kreme, although you can find shipped-in Krispy Kremes at Hy-Vee. But if fresh is more your style, there are several places in town with bakers working as early as 3 a.m. to prepare doughnuts of all shapes and sizes because sometimes the sweet tooth simply can’t be denied. Vox has a guide for finding the best cheap treats and local specialties.
It might be known for The Stretch, but Broadway Diner also makes homemade doughnuts every day. The diner’s original owner, Ed Johnson, says his son Dave, the current owner, makes two batches of doughnuts bright and early for hungry customers. The imperfections in the doughnuts are proof they’re handmade.
Where: 22 S. Fourth St.
Specialties: Glazed, chocolate glazed, cinnamon glazed and monkey bread
Price: $0.90 each, $11 per dozen
Hours: 11 p.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
Dixie Cream Donuts
Forget the cream fillings and sugar on top; Dixie Cream Donuts makes the most experimental and largest variety of doughnuts in Columbia. The quintessential doughnut shop makes interesting confections such as the maple bacon bars, a long john with maple icing and bacon. If you’re looking for a classic with a twist, the braided jelly doughnut is always a delicious option.
Where: 805 E. Nifong Blvd., 1301 Vandiver Drive
Varieties: 25 to 30
Specialties: Long johns with 16 fillings, blueberry doughnuts that taste like muffins and maple bacon bars
Price: $0.89 each, regular cake and glazed doughnuts; $1.19 for large doughnuts; $1.34 for filled long johns; $2.15 for special items; $8.68 per dozen regular doughnuts
Hours: 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Gerbes shows its Tiger pride with the Tiger Paw, a bear claw-shaped doughnut with yellow icing and black stripes. With low prices and a wide variety of doughnuts made daily, Gerbes is definitely worth checking out.
Where: 205 E. Nifong Blvd., 2900 Paris Road, 1729 W. Broadway
Specialties: Red velvet doughnuts, Tiger Paws, kids’ doughnuts with bright frosting and gummy worms
Price: $0.59 each, $4.29 per dozen glazed
Hours: 6 a.m. to midnight
Shoppers at Hy-Vee must get the 3 p.m. munchies because the pastry case gets so much traffic in the afternoon that the bakers have to make a second batch. Special sales sometimes result in whole sections selling out by mid-morning, so it’s good to get there early.
Where: 405 E. Nifong Blvd., 25 Conley Road, 3100 W. Broadway
Varieties: 15 to 20
Specialties: Sour cream doughnuts, French crullers and lots of sprinkles
Price: $0.89 each, $8.99 per dozen, $7.99 per dozen plain glazed
Are you a yeast doughnut person or a cake doughnut person? Unless you’re interested in a Danish, you’ll have to make the cake or yeast decision at some establishments. The showdown comes to an end at Schnucks, which has a wide variety of both popular styles made every morning.
Where: 1400 Forum Blvd.
Specialties: Fried croissants, cinnamon doughnuts and glove-and-baseball doughnuts (springtime only)
Price: $0.75 each, $1.29 for large Danishes, $7.99 per dozen
Hours: 6 a.m. to midnight
Whether you’re shopping for a vacuum cleaner, a TV or new shampoo, swing by the Walmart bakery and pick up a doughnut to make your trip more enjoyable.
Where: 1201 Grindstone Parkway, 415 Conley Road, 3001 W. Broadway
Specialties: Apple or cherry fritters, Bavarian cream long johns
Price: $0.58 each, $4.50 per dozen any variety, $4 per dozen plain glazed
The rest of the batch
Most gas stations and convenience stores carry doughnuts for a quick pick-me-up during road trips. Also, for those whose primary goal is caffeine but who also want something sweet, Starbucks offers an old-fashioned glazed doughnut for $1.50.