It’s with a bit of guilt that I tell you about the Donut Whole in Wichita, Kansas. I just got back from Peru last night, and while I loved the trip, there were times when Rand and I both looked at each other and thanked the heavens that we were born with all the privileges and opportunity and excess that comes from living in America.

We live in a land where pork is put into desserts and cakes and doughnuts, and that is no small thing.

In Wichita, I had no less than three bacon-scented sweets: a bacon caramel chocolate (I deemed it mediocre), a cupcake sprinkled with bacon bits (not bad for breakfast), and a maple-bacon doughnut (YES). This last confection, by far the most superior of the three, was courtesy of the Donut Whole. A small, eclectic shop downtown, they specialize in cake donuts, of which I am a fan because IT MEANS YOU CAN EAT CAKE FOR BREAKFAST. If you are partial to yeast donuts, or a vegetarian, you may want to skip this post altogether. I’ll understand.

The shop itself is shrine to … I don’t know. Something. Really, you tell me:

Let's just go with "America."

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There's a portrait of Colonel Sanders in one corner. Purveyors of fried foods need to stick together.

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A finger-painting by a chimp named Cheeta.

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And this summed things up nicely.

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All of the doughnuts begin life in the same way – as a moist dense cake of either vanilla or chocolate. A myriad of glazes and topping are applied – and the results are as creative as they are nutritionally void.

Pictured: The Homer J (pink glaze with rainbow sprinkles) and the Old School (cinnamon and sugar).

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The drive-up window is open 24-hours, which is perfect if you are timid or stoned. There are no less than 25 varieties available every day, lest you begin to forget that we live in the land of the plenty and are the most obese superpower on earth.

Fun fact: I tried 75% of the donuts pictured here.

We went back twice, and of all the doughnuts I sampled, the maple bacon reigned supreme. The bacon was crispy and fresh, the maple icing smooth and creamy, forming a gentle crust over the golden cake. The idea behind the doughnut may have been gaudy, but there was poetry in its execution.

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The obvious downside of this deliciousness is that it’s almost impossible to not feel guilty after eating one. You may begin to wonder what number of calories you consumed (I have no idea – my approach was “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”) Images of starving children may flash through your mind. Not that you will do a damn thing about it, but still, the images will be there and you will feel somewhat awful but you will continue eating the doughnut until it is gone because you don’t want to be wasteful on top of everything (and besides, it’s really, really good).

Though just a few weeks have passed, my time in Wichita seems like ages ago. It’s hard to look back on that doughnut now, and not think about the exchange I had with Nicolas, one of our tour guides in Peru. He was from the village of Pisac, about an hour from Cuzco. He showed us a “typical family” for the region – a mother of 17 or 18, and her equally young husband. He pointed out children from the mountain villages wearing shoes made from old tires. He explained that most of the kids couldn’t afford to go to school, even though it was mandatory. And then he asked me about pork.

“It’s very expensive here,” he noted. “How much does it cost in the U.S.?”

I told him that pork wasn’t expensive. It usually costs more than chicken, less than beef. He nodded. I told him we ate it often, but omitted the part about how we fried it and put it on cake for breakfast.

It’s a powerful reminder: the world is not just, and the playing field is anything but level. Life is difficult for a lot of people, and for others, it’s just a pile of maple-bacon doughnuts. If you’re lucky enough to be in the latter category, be sure to appreciate how delicious it is.

And if you can, visit the Donut Whole.

Full list of categories:  City Guide » Food » Restaurants
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Comments (12)

  1. 29. Sep, 2011 / Katie:

    i love donuts, i love this.

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  2. 30. Sep, 2011 / Matthew Karsten:

    Wow! The Homer J? I may have to make a special trip to Wichita just to visit this magical donut shop!!!!

    Is there a donut rehab center close by?

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  3. 30. Sep, 2011 / Janet T:

    yum…..donuts. I love cake donuts (frosted devil’s food!!!!)

    I would have to have the bacon/maple one. Just like dipping bacon in syrup when you eat french toast (and if you don’t dip, you should!)

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  4. 30. Sep, 2011 / Kathy in Quebec:

    This is one of the aspects of travel that can be very hard- seeing just how great the differences are between countries, and knowing how hard it can be to effect a change. A wonderfully written post.

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  5. 30. Sep, 2011 / Vivien:

    Adding grilled banana to the maple syrup & bacon combo takes it to a whole ‘nother level.

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  6. 02. Oct, 2011 / Rex:

    It’s a must if you ever visit Wichita! Try the King Midas next time.

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  7. 03. Oct, 2011 / catcat:

    Is that lion a drinking fountain? It’s giving me flashbacks of the lion drinking fountain at my hometown city pool 587 years ago. (Maybe 30 is more like it).

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  8. 03. Oct, 2011 / Janine:

    Loved your blog today. I know in my trip I will re-realize how spoiled we are. I just made a donation to Kiva, and it was wonderful to give to a business woman in Peru. Her name is Ellen, and maybe if fate is aligned up, I will meet her in the Cusco market.

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  9. 03. Oct, 2011 / Alexandra Dean:

    Beautifully written post today. I appreciate the salty sweet honesty of it.

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  10. 05. Oct, 2011 / valentina:

    Hello. I’m from Uruguay (a little country between Brasil and Argentina -NOT Paraguay!-). I’m following your blog and I really dig it. Partially, because it contradicts the image we have of you here, below the Rio Bravo (wich is greatly responsibility of television and the tea party, he).I haven’t read this entry in its totallity yet, only the first two paragraphs, but I had to ask you, because it seems like you’ll listen: be aware that America is a continent, with a great variety of realities (the first power on earth an one of the poorest countries on earth are in that continent). Perú is in America. You live in the U.S., ok, your conutry has a crappy and megalomanic name (kidding… kinda). Call it that way, please!

    I’ll go now, so I can keep reading.

    Hugs!!

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    Everywhereist Reply:

    Hi Valentina –

    Thank you for your comment! I’ve had people say something similar to me – “Why do people from the United States refer to themselves as Americans, when the North American continent is waaay bigger than the U.S.?” I do believe it’s purely semantic, as there are few other names by which Americans call themselves (“United Staters?” That’s not really a thing). I realize there are far more countries on my continent besides my own, and while folks who live there are North Americans, I know that referring to them as “Americans” would not work. Once, I referred to a Canadian girl as being American. I tried to use the justification that she was from my continent – it did not work well.

    Consequently, I think the singular “America” is often used to refer to just the United States, while “the Americas” or “North and South America” is used to denote the entire continent or hemisphere.

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  11. 05. Oct, 2011 / valentina:

    I finished reading. I still have the same goos image of you. Thanks for not ignoring :) Maybe some day you will end up down here. I think you’ll like it. And our typical family is more like yours. Though we would never eat cake doughnuts with bacon for breackfast. Or for anything.

    More hugs!

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