Fans of free doughnuts have been circling June 7 on their calendar for some time, as Krispy Kreme and Dunkin' Donuts gear up for a day of doughy freebies.
Sure, it's called National Donut Day at Dunkin' Donuts and National Doughnuts Day at Krispy Kreme. But however you spell it, you still get a free sugary treat when you show up at participating stores. At Krispy Kreme, there are no strings attached. Walk in, pick a doughnut and go. Dunkin' Donuts requires you to buy a beverage. It's safe to say that both chains will be as crowded as IHOP is during National Pancake Day, when it serves up free short stacks.
Fans will no doubt hoist up their sticky rings in a show of success, like Gollum's "precious" from "Lord of the Rings."
Padding Waistlines -- and Wallets
Let's face it, people love doughnuts, even if they are unhealthy in nearly every incarnation. Krispy Kreme's signature original glazed packs 11 grams of fat -- a pittance compared with the New York Cheesecake variety at 21 grams. And that can't hold a candle to the 39 grams of fat tucked inside Dunkin's chocolate coconut cake donut.
While all that fat may pad people's waistlines, it's also padding investors' wallets. Krispy Kreme stock soared 31 percent last week after blowout quarterly results. Revenue climbed 11 percent over the past year and adjusted earnings grew even faster. The chain has posted positive same-store sales for 18 consecutive quarters.
Dunkin' Donuts has also been a winning investment. The 10,500-unit chain went public at $19 a share less than two years ago, and the stock has gone on to more than double.
The chains are not giving away doughnuts because they need the business. They're doing it to honor a tradition they've been keeping since 1938, when Free Donut Day started. They also have plenty to gain by bringing in customers who may not normally frequent the stores.
Come for the Free Doughnut, Come Back for the Bacon Sandwich
Dunkin' has plenty of new things to show off. It just rolled out a new line of seasonal flavors featuring lemonade and key lime pie donuts; Krispy Kreme introduced its own key lime doughnut back in April.
However, the concoction that will truly turn heads is the new breakfast sandwich that Dunkin' Donuts introduced this week. A glazed doughnut is split in half like a bagel to make an egg and bacon sandwich. (There are already plenty of gourmet burger joints serving up hamburgers on doughnut rolls. What took the country's largest doughnut chain so long?) It may be easy to ridicule, but Dunkin' is surely hoping temptation will strike visitors once they get in the store.
Gollum was right all along. Those golden rings are precious.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.
Taco Bell's Cool Ranch Dorito Taco is Just the Latest 'Frankensnack'
'Free Doughnut Day': Padding Our Waistlines -- and Investors' Wallets
It's not unusual to see Oreos appear in other snack foods. Most ice cream shops and brands offer some variety of the cookies and cream flavor. And Oreos also appear (alongside several other snacks) as an optional mix-in for the McDonald's McFlurry.
But there was something bizarre about seeing them as a topping on a doughnut, which is exactly what Krispy Kreme began offering a few weeks ago. There are two varieties of the doughnut, both of which include both Oreo cookie crumbles and a dollop of Oreo's signature filling. They're available at select locations through April 21.
Krispy Kreme hasn't posted calorie count information for the doughnuts, and frankly, we're afraid to ask.
Cookies and pastries we can understand. Cookies and pizza are a bit harder to fathom. But in 2007, Oreos teamed up with Domino's, to create what it dubbed a "dessert pizza."
Sometimes Oreos go inside other snacks. Sometimes, other snacks go inside Oreos.
That's the case with this weird variety, which replaces the classic Oreo filling with one flavored like the traditional Halloween candy. The limited-edition cookie appeared on shelves last fall for the Halloween sales season -- though it was not the first time Nabisco offered a seasonal Oreo variety. The company sold candy cane Oreos during Christmas from 2008-2010.
Yes, that makes three entries for Oreos, which deserves a lifetime achievement award for its string of roles as best supporting snack food.
Pizza and beer have always been brothers in arms, so it was only a matter of time before some adventurous brewery found a way to mash them together.
Tom and Athena Seefurth of Illinois invented this concoction in 2006 by topping a pizza crust with tomato, oregano, basil and garlic and then rinsing the "essence of pizza spices" into the brewpot. The result, Mamma Mia! Pizza Beer, does in fact taste like pizza, with the oregano flavor particularly pronounced.
You're probably not going to down several pizza beers in one sitting -- it's not what you'd call a session beer. But if your local bar happens to have a bottle, we'd recommend giving it a try.
Chicken and waffles is a traditional dish that may very well qualify as a Frankensnack in its own right. So it was only natural that Lay's would seek to imbue that unique flavor into its potato chips.
We got a chance to try these, and were greeted with a strong taste of syrup. It's not exactly a taste you expect (or particularly want) to find in a bag of chips.
The variety was introduced in a contest to pick the next flavor of Lay's chips, and it's going up against "cheesy garlic bread" and "Sriracha." The latter is a wildly popular hot sauce and early reviews are good, so we fully expect it to beat out the chicken and waffles flavor and arrive soon at a grocery store near you.
In the mood for a burger, but feel like they haven't packed enough calories into the bun?
Sometimes referred to as a "Luther Burger" -- after R&B singer Luther Vandross -- the doughnut burger is just a beef patty sandwiched between a couple of doughnuts (or, if you're watching your calories, one doughnut split in half). Unfortunately there are no national chains offering this, but a couple of local establishments have them. One doughnut shop in Orange Country, Calif. offers a cheeseburger doughnut alongside other weird menu items like pizza doughnuts and sushi doughnuts. And the Gateway Grizzlies, an Illinois minor league baseball team, offer a bacon cheeseburger on a split Krispy Kreme doughnut, earning them the title of "baseball's best burger" from Sports Illustrated.
And if there are no restaurants or doughnut shops near you offering a version of this beast of a burger, don't despair: You can make one yourself -- Paula Deen has a recipe, of course.
Pizza Hut first recognized that the crust could be more than a handle when it introduced the Stuffed Crust Pizza in the 1990s. That wasn't exactly a Frankensnack -- they were just putting cheese in a part of the pizza that had previously been cheese-free.
But innovation doesn't sleep, and last year the pizza chain took the crust to a whole new level, introducing the Crown Crust Carnival pizza to its Pizza Hut Middle East stores. One featured a crust that incorporated chicken strips, while the other had mini-cheeseburgers circling the pie.
The Huffington Post also points out that Pizza Hut UK previously offered a hot dog stuffed crust. Clearly, America has fallen behind the rest of the world when it comes to crust innovation.
Most Frankensnacks are essentially novelty foods, released on a limited-time basis in hopes of getting some curious diners who want something adventurous. Typically, they don't turn into best-selling menu items.
But the Doritos Locos Taco is the exception: The original nacho cheese flavor sold 100 million tacos in its first 10 weeks, and now accounts for a quarter of all Taco Bell taco sales.
So of course Taco Bell is releasing a second such taco featuring the second-most popular Doritos flavor, Cool Ranch.