If you dabble in the world of pop culture and the conspiracy theories that are bred from it, you’ve certainly stumbled across The Simpsons and likely heard about the show’s ability to predict the future. Nearly three decades ago, Matt Groening conceptualized the series, and has since embedded the show with events that often seem eerily prescient. For example: In an episode from the early 2000’s, Donald Trump becomes president. In another from 1995, Springfield residents sport smart watches years before Apple launched its own wearable tech. But maybe The Simpsons’ most savory prediction lies in the wit of our beloved Homer, whose unbridled love for donuts foreshadowed a hunger the nation would soon adopt.
The artisan and craft donut trend is often linked to Portland, Oregon’s Voodoo Donuts, where treats wrapped in fanciful pink boxes stirred a desire in consumers for extreme pastries. Edgy, inventive and occasionally profane, Voodoo Donuts began offering the fruits of their labor to consumers day and night, transforming the donut from an easy breakfast to an anytime affair.
It wasn’t long before the scent of these fried dough rings wafted down to the southern regions of our country. Jacksonville entrepreneurs have since begun opening the doors of their own artisan donut shops, incorporating local ingredients that would surely make our friend Homer drool. Mini Bar Donuts + Coffee in Jax Beach is among a handful of the region’s bakers making these indulgences available to the masses. No longer are sweet-lovers subjected to the whim of Krispy Kreme’s fickle “hot” sign. Mini Bar serves up donuts about one-third of of typical size, made fresh to order all day long.
Mini Bar is joined by Jacksonville’s Good Dough, Sweet Theory Baking Co. and St. Augustine’s Swillerbees, among others, including beach pastry bastion Cinotti’s, whose donut artistry predates the prevailing trend. From vegan, allergy-friendly donuts to flavors with descriptions as obscene as Unicorn Poop, North Florida’s entrepreneurs have taken a national trend and transformed it into a diverse and colorful addition to our local food scene. Here’s a few bold choices from across the region, that, may you choose to indulge, your waistline may not thank you, your taste buds certainly will.
Mini Bar Donuts + Coffee
As if breaking into a donut isn’t reminiscent enough of simpler times, this Pop-Tart donut thrusts us fully back into childhood. With vanilla icing, nonpareil sprinkles, strawberry Pop-Tarts and Raspberry sauce, it’s a wonder why anyone would eat an actual Pop-Tart ever again. These bite-sized treats are customizable and made fresh to order, meaning there’s a way to explore different flavor combinations, minus the guilt.
Good Dough Artisan Doughnuts and Coffee
For fans of golf and Wes Anderson films, this donut is for you. Good Dough has created a cookies and cream donut donned with Murray’s mug dusted on top for your enjoyment. “Our baker Amanda Gibson came up with the idea and was really excited about it. You never know how those things are going to turn out,” owner Logan Moore explains. “But yeah, now we have a donut with Bill Murray’s face on it.” We imagine Steve Zissou would approve.
Sweet Theory Baking Co.
When asked what her most popular allergy-friendly, vegan pastry was, Sweet Theory owner Katie Riehm didn’t have a moment of hesitation. “Most consistently it’s our maple bacon donut,” Riehm said. “We make our own coconut bacon in house which is normal now, but six or seven years ago, the concept was very alien.” Inside the King Street shop, Riehm and her team use large coconut flakes to create their famous meatless bacon concoction. With liquid smoke, some salt and a touch of agave, this mix pairs perfectly with maple icing. You won’t miss the meat, we promise.
Swillerbees Craft Donuts & Coffee Bar:
A resident of Flagler Beach, Swillerbees owner Shannon Willer has brought her eye-catching artisan donut creations from her hometown to the historic streets of St. Augustine. Reminiscent of what a kid in a candy shop may create, menu items like her Unicorn Poop donut capture an innovation that classic pastries of the past have lacked. This creation is comprised of a few simple ingredients—vanilla frosting, strawberry wafers and, of course, sprinkles—which when combined make a big impact. Needless to say, your little ones will love eating (and ordering) this treat.