When The Donut Drove the World Nuts

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There was a time when donuts drove the world (or at least the world as the Manila folks know it) crazy. It was the early 2000’s and rumors of the big American chain Krispy Kreme coming was flying around (although it was years before the rumor became reality). The “usual” chains of Dunkin and Mister Donut were losing their market, and the “donut industry” was ripe for a shake-up. 

In this backdrop, a new store called Go Nuts Donuts opened in what was then a still vacant Bonifacio Global City, and nobody else could have timed it better. It made the whole metropolis go exactly like that…Nuts, overnight. People would queue for an hour or more to get piles of boxes of the sweet round thingies, any time of the day. A line, long enough to make Hollywood movie producers envy, would snake out of the store for as long as it is open as people stretched their patience for the biggest hit in town…donuts.

In a market filled with copycats, it was quite a surprise that nobody stepped-in quick enough to take a share of the pie that Go Nuts enjoyed at that time. When Krispy Kreme finally did land in Philippine shores years later, not far from the first Go Nuts store, almost the same phenomenon was repeated. “Almost”, but it wasn’t quite as insane as before. The long queues were there, but unlike the “Go Nuts” phenomenon, it no longer felt like there was a “fiesta” going around the store. By that time, it looked like the hype was over, and though people still craved, they were no longer going nuts (pun intended).

Years after Krispy Kreme, comes another newcomer from lands far-away, and it’s got a curious name “J.Co”. By this time however the donut hype was trully over and closed as a chapter of Philippine history. Not so good for “J.Co”, but good for people who appreciate the donut for what it really is, and not just for the hype. J.Co came in without much fanfare, and though I see people carrying boxes of it here and there, there are no more crazy lines to speak of.

I recently got my first taste of J.Co. in their shop at the SM Mall of Asia, and it didn’t disappoint. I would even dare to say I like their stuff better than Krispy Kreme, the current standard for most people. The variety they have is interesting, though not over the top fancy as Krispy Kreme is sometimes getting close to becoming. They show an “asian twist” to making donuts, with such flavors as green tea and avocado, and veer away from the “overkill” of sweetness that most donut chains tend to have. Unlike the other donut shops, they also have an extensive list of coffee and non-coffee drinks, and in fact they are closer to being a 50/50 split of a donut shop and an asian coffee shop, than any of the other chains.

For the variety of donuts and drinks, the “mellowed” sweetness of their stuff…and the absense of crazy, time consuming queues, I would rate them high on my “must try” list. And this, is just pure appreciation, no more hype.

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* Photos taken last May 2012, with a Samsung Galaxy smart phone.

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