Eating the Big One

Size matters. And at Dat Old Fashion Hand-Cut Donuts, this adage is beyond a matter of measure; it’s a company fundamental. The proof is in the donut. Located at the corner of South Cottage Grove Avenue and East 82nd Street, just off the #4 bus route, Dat’s serves a daily crowd of regulars, doling out the neighborhood favorites: pineapple-glazed donuts, shredded coconut donuts, buttermilk cake donuts, jelly donuts, and the classic: the simple glazed donut. These favorites are considerable in size, certainly larger than what one would find at any other donut shop. But these aren’t the donuts that make Dat’s so popular and famous. It’s Dat’s notoriously large and fabled donut–the Big Dat–that demonstrates the seriousness of the claim “Bigger is better.”

Measuring eight inches in diameter, and weighing at least as much as four regular-sized donuts combined, the Big Dat resembles a small cake round in every dimension–width, length and volume–it’s a large geometric model of culinary proportions. Even more precisely, the Big Dat looks like a round couch pillow, and is almost as heavy. Yes, it’s really dat big.

The taste of the Big Dat itself warrants attention. The dough is not too sweet, accented with a nice flavor of yeasty leavening. The texture is just chewy enough to let your teeth sink into it at the first bite. And the crunchy sugar glaze falls off in pieces with every munch. The enormity of the Big Dat is unforgettable, and its taste is just as memorable.

Big Dats are prepared in small batches, a few times daily. On average, the shop sells close to eighty of them before eight o’clock in the evening. Even at $2.15 a donut, a steal for such a pastry, customers only buy one each visit. Placed on large commercial baking sheets and tucked away on the bottom shelf of the shop’s display case, the Big Dat is difficult to overlook. Glimmers of fluorescent light make the Big Dat’s smooth coat of sugar glaze glisten among the other donuts. The smaller version of the Big Dat stands no chance against the massive original. Perhaps this is why the classic glazed donuts and Big Dats sit at either end of the display case in a spatially sensitive arrangement.

Unlike other notorious “first times,” your initial experience with the Big Dat will not disappoint; it’s a striking experience, with little risk of fruitless vigor. The Big Dat’s size alone makes up for any possible displeasure.

Don’t let the size overwhelm you; just remember to swallow.

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