Does the advent of the Hostess Boost caffeinated doughnut spell the dawn of a new age of stimulant-inspired pastries the creation of which will bring on heretofore unimagined progress and prosperity? Or does it spell the doom of a civilization so obsessed with trivialities and momentary physical pleasures that the only thing its denizens have to look forward to are passing distractions from a life otherwise bereft of meaning beyond the moment?
More importantly, what do they taste like?
As to the first question, let's just say that I am not aware of any sketches Leonardo da Vinci left behind detailing his dreams of amphetamine-fueled confections only to be frustrated by the primitive baking technology of his day, nor any epic poems having been written on the subject by the likes of Homer, Kabir, or Le Bai.
Regardless, we should all pause for a moment to consider the unimaginable wealth and prosperity of a country that could produce something as wholly unnecessary as a caffeinated doughnut. Time, money, and energy had to be spent for it to be designed, run though a gauntlet of corporate management hierarchies, from finance to marketing to engineering not to mention DEI (yes, it's long past time we bring equity to adult onset diabetes) – and yet somehow survived all that to come to fruition and land on the shelves of a rural Pennsylvania iteration of the mega-chain convenience store/gas station, Sheetz.
Upon coming across them, my first words, which I believe I may have actually mumbled out loud, were:
"What the… ?"
Of course, I had to buy it. I mean, it's a doughnut. And a coffee!
It was also $1.99.
I had truly never seen one of these before this past week. I've been stopping at this specific Sheetz to break up a long drive once a week for over two months, and I've stood in this same aisle looking for things I shouldn't buy and shouldn't eat, and then buying them and eating them. As it turns out, it's actually a brand new product, appearing on the Hostess product page a week or so ago, where it was spied by an eagle-eyed Instagrammer and snack cake enthusiast.
There have also been excited sightings reported this past week.
As for the Sheetz I was standing in, it commanded very little shelf space and there was only this one flavor available: "chocolate mocha."
As an aside, the flavor "chocolate mocha" makes no sense. According to Culinary Lore,
Generally, the term mocha refers to any coffee with chocolate flavoring, including a simple mix of hot chocolate and coffee.
There's a history as to how that came about, but the main point is, when you call something "chocolate mocha," you are basically calling it chocolate chocolate coffee.
There's also the matter of Hostess calling these "jumbo donettes."
Donettes are mini doughnuts. They're the ones that come in the sleeves of six, or the larger bags. That's pretty much what Hostess calls them.
So what is a "jumbo donette"? I mean, other than a desperate attempt at brand extension?
It's just a doughnut. A regular-sized doughnut.
(I wonder if this is how we ended up with "jumbo shrimp.")
A few other things before we get to the taste.
First, just how much caffeine is in these caffeinated doughnuts, er, jumbo donettes?
Okay, I'm not writing "jumbo donette" every time. Hostess can live the fantasy that these somehow identify as oversized donettes, but we all know they're just doughnuts.
(Note that this fulfills my obligation to include at least one of the two conservative jokes in every piece I write. Union rules.)
Anyway, I've come across this kind of caffeine claim many times before in various "energy" bars and drinks.
The problem is that there is no accepted standard for the amount of caffeine contained in a cup of coffee... mainly because it actually varies so much. However, it typically falls somewhere between 70 and 120 mg.
These "Boost" doughnuts?
50 to 70 mg.
That's approaching tea levels of caffeine. If I were to make a sleeping pill for myself, it would have 50 to 70 mg of caffeine.
(At least they bother to put it on the label. Sometimes I have to contact the company.)
As for nutrition, the Boost doughnut is so new there is no information available on the website, but since I have the actual packaging we can still check it out.
On second thought, let's not.
How about the ingredients?
If you are standing in the aisle of a rest-stop convenience store carefully perusing the ingredient list of whatever it is you just picked up to eat so as to ensure you are hitting your macros and eating clean, you have already made a series of unfortunate decisions so you might as well just lean into it.
As for taste...
I make it habit to check out the aroma of a food first. Let me put it this way:
Think, "chocolate-scented Lysol bathroom cleaner."
I wish that were hyperbole.
I let it sit out for a while to permit the chemicals to dissipate but to no avail. There was absolutely nothing appealing about this so far.
Regardless, I soldiered on.
Picture what it would be like if you could take a bite out of an 11th-grade high school chemistry class.
It's not like I'm eating at Sweet Green every day. I eat more commercially processed foods than I should, so my tolerance for these things is pretty high.
This was just awful. I couldn't even tell you what the flavor was. Mocha? I don't know. Maybe? A little. I was mostly overpowered by a combination of chemicals and sugar.
So. Much. Sugar.
When I say something is a tad too sweet, it's really sweet.
Sometimes you can blame the caffeine. While it is allegedly tasteless, I can tell when products that are not supposed to have caffeine in them, have had a dollop stuffed in. But this isn't that.
This is just bad.
I actually liked the concept. I like caffeine and I like doughnuts.
This is bad at both.
How do you mess this up? How do you mess up a doughnut? I suppose the other flavors might be better, but if this is the one they led with, the one they decided to push out to stores, I am not optimistic.
And of all the things to successfully navigate supply chain issues, this makes it?
In any case, I bought two of these assuming they would at least be edible.
So, I have one left.
What do you think I should do with it?