The venerable donut – everyone’s favorite grab and go pastry – has a disputed lineage. Is it Dutch? Is it French? Who was the marketing genius behind the ubiquitous center hole? We may never know the answers to these vexing gastronomic mysteries, so why not just indulge and enjoy? But, don’t pick just any donut. Plan a pilgrimage to the House of Donuts in Hicksville, believed by many to offer Long Island’s best donuts.
House of Donuts has been part of the Hicksville landscape since 1943, which for perspective was the year Frank Sinatra made his radio debut on “Your Hit Parade” and a bottle of Coca Cola cost 5 cents. The family-owned business could not be more archetypical suburban, situated close to the fire department and train station. The interior features a looping magenta lunch counter and swivel stools, white ceramic coffee cups, red ketchup squeeze bottles and a glass bakery case. Regular patrons are perched on the stools sipping coffee and reading the newspaper – the actual paper version! There’s a full menu of breakfast and lunch items, but when an establishment has “donuts” in its proper name, forget the protein and go for the sugar.
The luscious loops start to roll out from the onsite bakery in the wee-dawn hours and they’re bigger than life. My fellow “doughboy” and I arrived on a Sunday afternoon, and our eyes glazed over at the array of options. The woman at the counter had to wonder what kind of newfangled diet we were on. We hauled away two small platters stacked with a cinnamon roll the size of a Frisbee, a plump apple turnover, a glazed cake cruller, a blueberry donut and the piece de resistance, a Red Velvet donut.
Given it’s size, the cinnamon roll is more like cake and remarkably light and fluffy. The golden apple turnover is flaky with nice chunks of apple in the filling. The glazed cake cruller is fresh and perfumed with yeast. When you split open the blueberry donut enjoy the sweet aroma of blueberry jam. The Red Velvet donut is postmodern perfection – a modern donut that tastes like a velvety classic cake, and turns your tongue an intriguing shade of scarlet. As we were dusting off the last specs of sugar glaze from our laps, two trays of pumpkin and chocolate glazed donuts appeared at the counter, but even a hardcore doughboy has his limits.
So what’s the moral of the story? When considering donuts, forget restraint and go with experience. If sugar is your stimulant and you appreciate donuts as high art, head over to House of Donuts and pay homage.