While innovation is key to attract consumers in the crowded donut category, bakeries must keep in mind that success comes from the most basic level of formulation. The donut styles and flavors that have stood the test of time must be on point.

Traditional cake donuts are currently the top sellers, said Sally Lyons-Wyatt, executive vice-president and practice leader, Information Resources Inc.

“When looking down the donut aisle, we see blueberry, cherry, cookies and cream as well as plain and old-fashioned donuts winning with consumers,” she noted.

Dawn Foods, which sells donuts to retail outlets, asked its customers this question: Which donut flavor is your secret hero — a surprising favorite that attracts customers to your bakery? Twenty-six per cent answered glazed old-fashioned, according to the company’s blog post “The Rise of Donuts.” Other responses included 22% maple, 14% double chocolate, 14% blueberry cake, 4% powdered sugar and 20% other.

Despite a variety of offerings at LaMar’s Donuts and Coffee, Ray’s Original Glazed donuts are the most popular. And the company has stayed true to its 1933 tradition of the donuts and their icings and glazes being made fresh every morning from start to finish, said Temi Osifodunrin, director of marketing and advertising at LaMar’s.

At Europastry, its Dots Original thaw-and-sell donuts come in a variety of shapes such as ring dots, classic dots, ball dots, long dots and pop dots. But among flavors, from hazelnut to strawberry, the original is king.

“Currently, there is great growth and popularity around classic donuts, with traditional flavors and ingredients such as glazed or chocolate,” said Carolina Moré, marketing director USA, Europastry.

As soon as the “hot” sign is lit at a Krispy Kreme, people get in line for the fresh glazed donuts. If a coworker brings in a box to share, there has got to be some traditional flavors. The reality of the industry? Old-fashioned never gets old.

This article is an excerpt from the February 2020 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on donuts, click here.