-3 Snaps! Try it. You might like it.
Did you know that it is National French Fry Day (Friday) today? According to USA Today several restaurants have specials on their French fries. Dunkin' Donuts is honoring the day with a free serving of their new Donut Fries and I like free stuff! Unfortunately, I couldn't be one of the first 100 people through the door to get a free order, so I bought some to try.
The counter person I ordered from did not instill much confidence in the product when I ask for her opinion, saying she's not a big fan. But, it turns out she's right. Dunkin's Donut Fries are just that. Standard doughnut dough cut into strips and deep-fried, coated in cinnamon and sugar and bagged. Four pieces are $1.99. It's their version of churros, a favorite fried dough treat started in Spain and Portugal and adopted by other cultures.These are not very good.
Granted it's fried dough so it's hard to mess up, but this version is missing the rigid outside crispiness churros typically offer and are mushy on the inside. I may be splitting hairs but the doughy-ness of a donut and the sponginess of a churro makes a big difference. This dough soaks up too much oil and is saturated. The cinnamon and sugar are the only flavorful elements I taste except for the oil.
Want Real Churros? Head to Boliche Boulevard
I wondered if I was being too critical about the Donut fries after tasting them and wanted to do a real life comparison. So, I headed to Boliche Boulevard (a.k.a. Columbus Drive) in Tampa. It's the Cuban corridor of great Hispanic eateries including La Teresita Restaurant, and home to El Churro food truck at the corner of Columbus Drive and Lincoln Avenue.
As I get out of my car my nose is filled with that delicious fried food smell. My Spanish is about as good as the truck tenders English, but we both know what I am there for. We both chuckle at each other's attempts to communicate. Inside the truck she creates the real deal.
A churro extruding machine sits next to a basket which is ready to be dropped into the deep fryer. I smile as she expertly chops off about 10 beautiful pieces of dough and watch as they descend into that golden oil. A couple of minutes later (she knows exactly how long it takes) out they come, go into a small paper bag, and are coated with extra granular sugar. Divine doesn't quite cover it. The delicacies are 10 for $2.00.
That hot golden brown dough cut into curvey strips and dusted with that granulated sugar is over the top. Wow! Gone in 60 seconds indeed. There's really little comparison to the Dunkin Donuts product. The authentic churros are just so far superior.
I think I get where Dunkin Donuts is coming from. Restaurants these days need to continue to innovate to keep the fickle public's interest and fun promotions get media attention. The typical route for menu changes in the fast food industry is to use already stocked ingredients (in this case doughnut dough) and make something new from them. It decreases the need for more space or function within the store and gives them some media interest. (Think of all the publicity, negative or otherwise, from IHOP's IHOB. Here's the info from Tampa Bay Times.) Launching these close to National Fry Day and giving them away was a smart move. Unfortunately the final product does not live up to the hype.
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