According to the National Association of People Who Care About What Other People Eat, the proper number of donuts a human should consume in any given eating session is approximately one to two donuts. This is, of course, a horribly limiting and arbitrary dietary restriction, and quite possibly the reason for every bad thing that’s ever happened in the history of the world.
Donuts are packaged by the dozen for a reason: They are meant to be consumed in large quantities, one after the other, until our stomachs roil in a sugar-fueled rage. And yet, society tells us one is enough. The sanctity of the donut, and our right to eat a dozen at once, is at risk.
So, in an effort to uphold the purity and power of the donut, to profess that it is truly possible to enjoy the donut en masse, I set out on the most important quest of our time: I would eat 12 donuts from 12 donut shops in just one morning, and live to tell the tale.
Thus, the BuzzFeed Donut Crawl was born.
RULES OF THE DONUT CRAWL:
1. In one morning, travel to 12 donut shops in New York City and eat a donut of any variety from each place, for a total of one dozen donuts.
2. Wear the official Donut Crawl T-Shirt as a symbol of your unshakable commitment to the donut and everything it stands for.
3. Bring a jug of milk wherever you go and dramatically sip from it when necessary, preferably while preaching the innumerable health benefits of a donut-based diet.
4. Bring a friend, because eating a dozen donuts alone is sad.
5. Absolutely do not throw up.
6. Try not to cry.
7. Make friends and have fun.
8:00 a.m.: It’s a bright, cloudless Wednesday morning in New York City — prime weather for aggressively shoving 12 sugary cakes into your face — and my body is charged and ready to test its donut capacity. My last meal, eaten 12 hours before, was a giant chocolate-covered cannoli, stuffed with frosting and chocolate chips — the perfect food to coat my stomach with a fine sugar lining in preparation for the sugary hell I’m about to bring upon it.
In retrospect, this was a terrible decision.
I already regret everything.
8:32 a.m.: Milk jug in hand, I arrive at my first location. My stomach is empty and gurgling with hunger, and my mouth is tingling in anticipation. The first waft of warm sugary bliss blows out of the donut shop entrance as I open the door, and the beautiful smell sweeps away any doubts I have about this day.
My body is truly ready.
8:35 a.m.: It’s early at the Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop in Brooklyn, but already, all but two donut varieties have sold out. Donuts here don’t mess around, and people clearly wake up earlier than 8 a.m. to get a taste of these sweet, sweet sugar mounds.
Because it’s my first stop, and because my stomach is growing restless in anticipation, I decide to get one of each of the remaining donuts — chocolate cake and a glazed cruller — and take a seat at the counter before my sugary feast.
I raise the chocolate cake to my lips, slowly bite into its soft, round sides and instantly, my donut fantasies burst to life as its cozy, supple crumbs melt on my tongue and coat my throat with warm, chocolatey perfection. I want to pick up the rest and rub its pillowy sides against my skin, but I’m in public, so I resolve to simply swallow the rest whole. It’s everything a donut should be — everything a food should be, really — and already, my will to eat 11 more donuts is strengthened.
8:45 a.m.: I devour the glazed cruller even quicker than the first. It’s glazier and stickier and a little more fried, which gives it a perfect crumble.
A young couple at the donut counter watches me eat it with visible looks of concern.
“You’re really gonna eat 12 of these in one morning?” they ask me.
“Um…yes. Yes I am,” I choke between frosted bites.
And then I put my sticky, glazed hand in their faces and skip away.
8:58 a.m.: I hail a cab to the next location, which is almost 2 miles away, and sit silently in the backseat, conserving precious donut-eating energy and considering the beautiful sugar bits floating inside of me.
9:14 a.m.: I walk into Dun-Well Doughnuts and it’s entirely empty except for me, a glass display full of perfectly frosted donuts waiting to be eaten, and the glorious glazed donut that I’ve specifically selected to go inside of me. It looks about as perfect as a donut can look, sitting beautifully atop the slice of wood it’s served upon, a few slight cracks in its thick glazy outsides.
I pick it up and it’s softer than any donut I’ve ever held, it breaks apart with no effort and melts beautifully on my tongue, filling me with it’s donut-y warmth. It goes down just as easily as the first two donuts.
The woman behind the counter asks me how it is.
“It’s basically the best thing I’ve ever had,” I tell her between bites.
“Did you know it’s vegan?” she says. “That’s our secret.”
I gather my things and leave without speaking another word.
9:19 a.m.: The next spot is a train ride away, enough time to stretch on the subway, take a few much-needed swigs from my milk jug, and consider the prospect of nine more donuts making their way through my mouth.
9:32 a.m.: The donuts at Dough are overwhelmingly large, and look even bigger and more overwhelming when three donuts are already inside of you. I order the “Dough of the Day,” which today is a giant glazed blob slathered in thick mocha chocolate and topped with enough almond streusel to engulf my entire body.
This is, I should note, the first moment that doubt strikes me. The chocolate atop this particular donut is so thick, it sticks to the sides of my mouth with every bite, and the streusel forces my teeth to actually chew. I take each bite cautiously, fearing that one wrong bite could prompt the expulsion of the entire contents of my stomach.
I choke down the entire mass and leave before anybody notices the tears I’ve shed in the corner.
9:58 a.m.: The next stop is a train ride away into Manhattan. At this point, my hands are so caked with thick sugary glaze, my fingers stick to every subway pole I touch, and I can probably lift a small child without clenching the palm of my hand. Shockingly, not a single parent on the train will let me try, because apparently you can’t trust a man wearing a donut T-shirt he made himself.
10:16 a.m.: I’m relieved to see, when I walk into Doughnut Plant, that every offering is a normal size and not as monstrously large as the demon I ate at Dough. I order a simple cinnamon-sugar donut, something calm and easy for my mouth and stomach to process. A woman behind the counter sees my shirt and asks if if I’m judging Doughnut Plant on this donut alone.
“I mean, no not really. I just wanna eat a donut,” I tell her.
“BUT THAT’S OUR MOST BORING DONUT,” she screams at me.
“OK, fine, just give me something else with it then.”
She gives me the cinnamon sugar and her favorite, the creme brûlée, and I stand there before her, cowering, biting tepidly between sips of water because it’s the only way my body can accept anything solid at this point.
I’ll admit, the creme brûlée was everything she said it would be.
I would even say that it saved my life.
10:33 a.m.: Full of six donuts after only four shops, I push on, fueled only by the 30 pounds of sugar that are now coursing through my weak veins.
I see a kid on the street, put my face next to his, and shout, “DO YOU KNOW WHAT I’VE BEEN THROUGH? DO YOU KNOW THE HELL THAT I HAVE BEEN THROUGH THIS MORNING ALONE?”
The sugar is taking over.
10:45 a.m.: Walking into Babycakes is like entering the insides of an actual pink-frosted donut. It’s bright and light, but my donut-riddled body only notices the thick sugary air, so I can only describe this moment as “literal hell.” I feel like my body is slowly heating under an Easy Bake Oven lightbulb, and all I want is escape.
I ask the kind ladies behind the counter which donut they’d suggest, and they offer the samoa, a simple cake donut smeared in glaze and coconut and caramel and chocolate.
“It’s vegan and gluten-free,” they tell me.
I don’t even know what that means.
I pick it up, put it to my lips, and place it delicately on my tongue.
“It’s great,” I tell them.
It’s not the donut’s fault. It would probably be a great donut on any other day. But today is not this vegan, gluten-free donut’s day.
I smother every coconut flake past my lips and crawl out the door between moans.
10:55 a.m.: The next stop is across Manhattan, and my body is barely capable of standing on its own. The smell of fried dough is heavy on my jacket. It catches in my nose every time the wind stirs, and each time, my body involuntarily shakes. I can feel myself losing control.
11:02 a.m.: Every customer at the bakery is immediately concerned when I enter. My face is covered in thick, sugary sweat, and my body is heaving. I’m barely able to say I want a donut, but a man behind the counter understands and gives me a banana cake.
I crawl out to the curb and sit with my jug of milk, taking a bite out of my donut cautiously. It tastes like a what I imagine a banana would taste if a Krispy Kreme employee ate one and then threw it up.
11:10 a.m.: I drink half of my jug of milk. Milk is all I have now. I don’t even remember my life before donuts. I don’t remember what fresh air smells like, even though I’m standing outside.
I roll to the next shop on my side because my legs have stopped working.
11:30 a.m.: The next stop, The Donut Pub, is an actual oven, and I think, This is what hell must feel like in springtime. I walk in, climb onto the counter, and lay down. “Please put a donut in my mouth,” I ask the kind old Russian woman behind the counter.
She picks a honey-glazed circle and places it on my face.
“Please put water in my mouth,” I whisper.
She pours tiny droplets onto my tongue.
It’s the best water I’ve ever had in my life.
She and I are married now. This is my life.
11:50 a.m.: The next stop is a short cab ride away. I can feel the cab driver’s nose twitch as my fried doughy scent follows me into the backseat. I don’t have enough energy to feel sorry for getting frosting on his door handle.
12:16 p.m.: The donuts at Doughnuttery are so tiny, the woman behind the counter refuses to give me any unless I order at least six.
“Yeah, but I’ve already eaten nine donuts, do you understand?”
She doesn’t care.
I get three vanilla-glazed and three cinnamon-sugar donuts, and pop them into my mouth between groans. I make sure the woman behind the counter sees me eat each one.
She still doesn’t care.
12:28 p.m.: I take a cab to the next bakery and can feel all 10 donuts inside of me jostling with every bump on the road. The outer layer of my skin has been replaced with a thick, sticky film of glaze. I cough and the only thing that comes out is a puff of powdered sugar.
Death is imminent.
12:38 p.m.: The air inside Sullivan Street Bakery is cool and refreshing. Either that, or my body is simply unable to detect temperature any longer. I order the vanilla bombolone, an Italian cream-filled donut, and I eat it all without even realizing it. My brain is on auto-drive. It sees a donut and swallows.
The sugar has attacked my taste buds, so I’m not even sure what’s good and what isn’t. I think this donut was delicious, but I could be horribly wrong.
12:51 p.m.: The next stop is a 15-minute walk away. As I limp there, a flock of crows flies above my head, picking at sugary crumbs in my hair.
1:11 p.m.: The man behind the counter at Holey Cream barely seems to notice I’m there. I barely knew I was there myself, if he didn’t eventually address me.
“Can I help you?” he asks softly.
“Yes…please…just…give me…the Froot Loop donut.”
He takes a plain glazed donut, opens a warm bucket and dips it into a pool of frosting. He takes a handful of Froot Loops and gingerly spreads them across the top. I watch him in horror.
Once it’s in my hands, I shove it into my face, not giving my brain enough time to process the emotional havoc I was wreaking upon it.
I start to cry.
What have I done?
1:21 p.m.: I finish the 12th donut and leave. Even though I’ve eaten a full dozen, I’ve only made it to 10 donut shops, and commit myself to going to two more.
Not for me. For the donuts.
1:35 p.m.: I use the bathroom at Bouchon Bakery and discover that my body is only capable of emitting thick pink frosting.
Once I’m finished, I head to the counter and a kind woman tells me donuts aren’t served on Wednesdays. “WHAT?!” I shout at her. The sugar is speaking now.
“WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? THIS IS A BAKERY. HAVE YOU NO MORALS?!”
I’m escorted away.
1:46 p.m.: I wriggle along to the last stop on my map, shrieking in the face of whoever comes near me. I take a sloshy sip from my milk jug. Nothing matters anymore.
2:06 p.m.: I crawl up to the entrance of the last donut shop, and read, through glazy eyelids, that it’s closed for construction. My brain is unable to comprehend that this is truly a relief, that I’m free, that my body is released from this donut prison.
I collapse onto the nearest bench.
A single fried circle in the sky is the last thing I can remember.
Many hours and one much-needed salad later:
The term “dozen” is perhaps the most sacred word in the entire world. Together, a dozen donuts provide all the happiness one human needs to survive a fulfilling life. I set out to visit 12 donut shops and eat 12 donuts in one morning, and I (mostly) succeeded.
At what cost, you might ask.
The cost of my dignity? The cost of six and a half hours of my life? The cost of traveling over 13 miles just to fill myself with fried dough and frosting?
But for a dozen donuts, everything is worth it.