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National Doughnut Day Taste Test: Dunkin' vs. Krispy Kreme vs. Tim Hortons

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Doughnuts are a sweet, fluffy, gooey American tradition celebrated on not just one but two National Doughnut Days. This year the first fell on June 5, and doughnut shops around the country offered freebies. No giveaways have surfaced for the second holiday, on Nov. 5, but doughnuts are always an inexpensive treat. Cheapism.com conducted a blind taste test with four of the biggest names in doughnuts to help consumers decide where to spend their pocket change and calories. A panel of 10 doughnut lovers sampled glazed, chocolate, iced/sprinkled, and jelly-filled doughnuts from Krispy Kreme, Dunkin' Donuts, and Tim Hortons; only the first two varieties were available from supermarket standby Entenmann's. Panelists favored doughnuts with a moist, delicate texture and rich flavor.

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The signature glazed doughnut from Krispy Kreme earned a majority vote in that category. Panelists raved about the combination of sweet glaze, fluffy body, and superb flavor. The raspberry-filled jelly doughnut was a unanimous selection. Tasters declared it superior in every way, with the best consistency and freshest taste. It was also the priciest: $1.09 compared with 99 cents or less at the other chains in the taste test, and 99 cents for the Krispy Kreme Original Glazed.

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Entenmann's doughnuts are sold in supermarkets and convenience stores in prepackaged boxes. Although the variety is limited, the brand's chocolate doughnuts won their category by a slim margin -- to the tasters' surprise, given that Entenmann's pastries are so much cheaper than retail chain doughnuts. A box of eight costs roughly $5.29, or 66 cents per doughnut compared with at least 95 cents elsewhere. Still, the rich, smooth flavor was irrefutably declared the best in the blind tasting.

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The largest chain among the bunch, with more than 11,000 locations worldwide, Dunkin' Donuts impressed the judges with its iced/sprinkled doughnut. Crunchy sprinkles paved the way to a first-place finish in the category, while chocolate icing enhanced the doughnut's flavor. Taste testers concluded that Dunkin' fell flat in the glazed and jelly categories. Several said the glazed offering didn't have enough of the sugary coating, felt dry in the mouth, lacked strong flavor, and finished off bland. Doughnuts from this chain are 95 cents each and $8.49 for a dozen.

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Panelists didn't see the appeal of Tim Hortons, a Canadian favorite with about 900 U.S. locations. They deemed the sample doughnuts bland and dry. The chocolate version wasn't moist or sweet enough to please the tasters' palates. "Fake" artificial flavor -- in particular, the jelly -- was another underlying theme that emerged in comments about Tim Hortons. The quick-service restaurant regularly charges 99 cents for a doughnut and $7.79 for a dozen.