The Brunching Shuttlecocks Ratings

Old Fashioned Doughnuts
When, exactly, did these become "old fashioned"? Were they ever known as "those new-fangled modern doughnuts"? Were they once favorites of lawless young punks looking for cheap thrills and greasy pastries, before a brash new crop of cutting-edge crullers rendered them "uncool"? Are retro-minded modern youths reviving the old-fashioned doughnut craze, going to old-fashioned doughnut bars and subscribing to magazines devoted to the finer points of chocolate-coated versus plain? Or maybe, just maybe, it's just a dumb name. B

Jelly Doughnuts
You can tell a lousy doughnut shop by how much they skimp on the bright red sugary ichor. Some of the real cheapies stick no more than a heaping teaspoon of coagulated goodness in there, making you wade through mouthfuls of dry, flavorless breadlike material to even get to it. In spite of this very real danger, however, jelly doughnuts are primally appealing, because the oozing preserves are about as close as most air-conditioned urban dwellers are going to get to the look and feel of devouring fresh kill. A-

This sounds like something you get infested with on a camping trip. "Better get out the lye soap, Ma. Looks like Beanie's got fritters again." And if you don't get them off fast enough, you get Rocky Mountain Fritter Fever and you end up six feet under with the word "fritter" on your death certificate. Bad scene. But not as bad as these things look. They look as if the final step in their preparation is "change the oil in your pickup truck using the fritter as a drain pan." They don't taste quite that bad, though. C-

Cake Doughnuts with Chocolate Sprinkles
Some things took me much longer to learn than they should have. One example is "Nothing anyone tells you in a student financial aid office will ever be verified by another human being." Another is "Chocolate sprinkles just aren't worth it." Sure, they look all fun and festive, like a crowded disco of chocolatey goodness. The problem is that whatever process they use to form the chocolate into little chromosomes also takes away approximately 85 percent of the flavor, leaving them tasting vaguely sugary and disturbingly crunchy. Plus they get all over the place. Two or three of them on the road and your car floor looks like a shaving basin. Chocolate good, chocolate sprinkles D.

Maple Bars
You'll be glad to know that this rating is 100% guaranteed free of Canadian jokes. Don't worry, eventually I'll rate international police uniforms and then they'll get it but good, but for now we'll let them slide, if only because the "maple" you find at a doughnut shop couldn't be more removed from actual trees if it came from Pluto's moon. Real maple syrup, for instance, doesn't have a four-hour aftertaste. I propose we apply the same principle behind "creme," "froot" and "cheez" and make them change the signs to read "maypul bars." C

Glazed Doughnuts
I like these because usually when I walk into a doughnut shop I feel pretty glazed myself. They are the quintessential doughnut, allowing you to feel bloated and yet not satiated. The addition of a layer of sugar to the already sugar-infused greasebomb is a nice touch of overkill, so much so that "glazing the doughnut" would make a nice replacement for "gilding the lily" as a metaphor when describing, for instance, the effect of putting whitewall tires on an expensive mobile home. A

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