Thursday, October 20, 2011

No One Wants the Peanut Donut

So why does the peanut donut always get included in the dozen? Why is it mandatory? Why do the donut stores even make the peanut donut?

My point here today isn't strictly limited to the loathsome peanut donut, it's more about the importance we place on "variety". A misplaced importance. This need we feel to bring some mysterious aesthetic quality to the content of the donut box. The motivation we feel, as donut selectors, to impress others with a dazzling variety of donuts. I'm here today to shake you by the shoulders and remind you that variety doesn't count for that much, that donut diversity is overrated, that functionality matters far more than form, and that the peanut donut can suck my dick.

If you've ever found yourself sneaking back to the donut box in the late morning, after your officemates have picked through it thoroughly, maybe because you're second guessing your original choice of the glazed old fashioned and now you're craving chocolate, you're likely to open the box and see two donuts left in there. They will invariably be the coconut donut and the peanut donut.

I've had a dozen office jobs, I've seen my share of donuts, and I am telling you that no matter where you are, or what the circumstances may be, the last two donuts in that box will always be the coconut and the peanut. No one wants shredded coconut at 9 in the morning, and they particularly don't want our nutty friend. And when I see these two rejects, I always had the same thought: "Why didn't they just get 12 chocolate frosteds? Would that have been so terrible?"

And then I started to notice this phenomenon elsewhere in life. A dozen bagels? The last one left is the raisin. A bucket of chicken? Good luck finding a late drumstick. A plate of cookies? Say hello to the oatmeal cranberry. Those chocolate chip cookies are looooong gone.

A raisin bagel

I suspect that sometimes the problem occurs because we let the guy behind the counter make our bagel / cookie / donut selections for us. We don't take charge. We instruct him to fill up a box of 12 while we take a look at the blended iced coffee options, and the guy adjusts his paper hat and heads right for the peanut donuts. I think the donut store is long on peanut and coconut donut inventory, which they can never move, so of course they jump at the opportunity to slip a few into the box if we let them act as our proxy. So my first piece of advice would be not to let the donut guy make the choices. He doesn't have your best interests in mind.

What you really need to do though is set the example. Arrive at work holding the long, flat box. Let everyone see you carrying it to the breakroom. The vultures will circle. Let them get close. Then open the box. What will they see? How about 8 chocolate frosteds and 4 jellies? They'll blink at it for a minute, uncomprehending. Then, gradually, the genius of it will dawn on them. They'll look at you with amazement and fresh respect, like you just invented wheels on luggage.

"I get it." They'll whisper. "A box of donuts..."

"Go on." you'll say.

"A box of donuts... with no shitty donuts."

"That's it," you say as you put a comforting hand on the shoulder. "I think you understand."

And then the next day you come with bagels. 4 plain, 4 sesame, 4 everything. Again, your cubiclemates can't believe that there are no bad choices in the bag. The next afternoon, you come with a box of cookies - and every single one is chocolate chip. They'll bumrush the plate of course - no one wants to get stuck with the cranberry - but.... there are no cranberries!
An oatmeal cranberry cookie

Every cookie is a winner! Every cookie is the one you want! Xanadu!

I say it's time we close the door on the peanut donut. Time to admit that we don't need to pepper the box with unappealing variety, just for the sake of appearances. Time to admit that all donuts are not created equal: some are good and some suck. I have a noble goal here. And that goal is to walk my bloated frame from the cubcicle to the mini-kitchen at 4:15 PM, open that donut box, and see one donut staring back at me. A chocolate donut. Now that would be a sight to see.