Monday, April 16, 2012

A Maple Bacon Doughnut-off: Nickel Diner versus Fonuts

In these spaces I've often complained about the over-saturation of swine-topped desserts. Enough with the bacon already, I've demurred. I mean, fuck, when Denny's starts offering the combination on their dessert menu, you know it's time to move on. BUT, I am a human man. I do like bacon. I do like dessert. Even more so, I really like maple. And when a restaurant or bakery offers a Maple Bacon Donut (or Doughnut, or in one case here, a Fonut), it is hard to ignore. Thus, for the pure sake of blogging and nothing more, I taste tested two of LA's most popular Maple Bacon doughnuts -- the young baked donut upstart, Fonuts (first pictured) and one of the bacon-maple pioneers, Nickel Diner (the latter). By breaking the donuts into three simple categories -- CAKE, MAPLE ICING and BACON-NESS -- there is a clear winner.

CAKE - Some may argue that comparing the cake of a fried donut (Nickel Diner) with a baked one (Fonuts) is like comparing a bachelor party with a prostitute with a bachelor party without one. Well, there's certainly some validity there. The Nickel Diner cake, like any classic doughnut, is tasty, gooey and chewy throughout, while the Fonut is, in parts, a tad dry. But, the Fonut, probably due to the lack of frying (and the ensuing compaction), offers a lot more cake to chew, and in doing so, lengthens the life of the dessert. I never complain about desserts that take longer to consume. It makes me feel less guilty or something if it takes more than a minute and half to eat. That aside, Nickel Diner is the clear CAKE winner.

MAPLE ICING - The penultimate maple icing comes from my favorite bakery in the world, Icing on the Cake in Los Gatos, Northern California. Their Maple Moons cookie just simply can't be topped. So when it comes to maple icing testing, I always aspire for a similar Maple Moon-like richness. This richness, although not quite completely comparable with Icing on the Cake, is almost achieved with the Fonut Maple Bacon. A very thick, creamy, sugary layer of maple surrounds the Fonut. It's the perfect coating (and beard for the somewhat dry cake). On the other hand, Nickel Diner's version is a very thin glaze that honestly barely tasted like maple (instead, more like a classic "glazed donut" taste). The advantage in the icing department goes to Fonuts.

BACON-NESS: From appearances alone, I really expected the Nickel Diner donut to cake the bacon-ness crown. The bacon shreds atop their donut appear to have been dunk in the deep fryer or at least pan-fried to a crisp. Meanwhile, the Fonut bacon appears a little weak and limp (as is the bacon on most bacon desserts). Well, I was incorrect. While the Nickel Diner topping certainly provides a little crunch and flavor, it pales in comparison to Fonut's rounded breakfast delight. Not just is the bacon crunchy, it comes in abundance. Not one bite can be taken without indulging in the wonderful bacon-maple harmonious blend. The bacon crown goes to Fonuts.

OVERALL: Like all good, important, competitive tournaments, we came in with a clear favorite (Nickel Diner) and a clear underdog (Fonuts). While Nickel Diner offered a stronger base for their Maple Bacon donut by taking the "CAKE" portion of the competition, in the end the champion is definitely Fonuts.

Fonuts - 8104 W. Third Street, LA
Nickel Diner - 524 S. Main Street, DTLA


  1. It's like comparing two cars, one has the standard stereo and lights, but runs great. The other has some suped up speakers and TVs in the back, along with those fancy bluish headlights on it, but it sat in one of those lots in four feet of water, post Hurricane Katrina. That soaked car with the engine that coughs up salt water when you try and turn it on is Fonuts, they might have some nice toppings or icings, but that actual doughnut is always mediocre.