James Felder on NY Donuts (plus a little on bagels and bialys)

Classmate James Felder, of the photoblog Snapshot Artificat, e-mailed tonight a response to my “wandering” post below. I enjoyed it so much that I asked him if I could share it with my readers. He said, “Ok, if you MUST.” [And I enjoy James’s take on food so much I created an entire category for him. It’s called James Felder. I think that’s appropriate.]


I read the Donut Factory entry on your site. My two cents, whether or not you want it, is that everything is really high quality there (did you ever see him make them on Martha Stewart?), but I think the overall donut is too much, too big, too greasy, too nasty. I classify NYC donuts in three categories: a) cake b) confection and c) Polish.

The Polish ones are usually found on 2nd Avenue and are sometimes jelly-filled. There’s one place (I forget which) which is known for making them with gold-leaf, which is a Polish specialty. All Polish donuts, though, are greasy because the dense dough sops up the fry oil, and they tend to have a leathery paper tear-texture to the skin. The Donut Factory are Polish donuts. I understand why everybody loves them — big donuts, lots of sweet. I love the glazes, myself. But the donuts themselves are artery cloggers and aesthetically a mess, I think.

The confection donuts are the type that are very light and sweet: Dunkin Donuts being the low end of the commercial ones, and Krispy Kreme being the high end of the commercial type (by the way if you want a weird treat, ask the KK folks to give you a “shell” freshly baked if they are ever making the “blanks” for the jelly donuts).

The cake donuts are what are sometimes known as “old-fashioneds” and are sold at a lot of places. Usually they are…eh. But, if you have a freshly made one, nothing can beat it. The pinnacle of them are the Dreesen’s donuts. When I was a kid, you’d go to Dreesen’s Market in East Hampton and a little machine in the window would make them while you watched. They’ve gotten a big following over the years. When I worked at Marvel they would set up the machine on the Penn Station tracks on Fridays so the long Island commuters could get their faves. I used to give money to my assistant (who lived on the Island) to bring in donuts for the office. Here’s more info on them:


There’s a place called the Donut Pub on West 23rd that makes confection and cake donuts. People love the place. I find it pretty average.

Anyway, that’s my two cents on that. Donut Factory = too much of a good thing.

As to Kossar’s, I love that place. Back in the sepia-toned days of the Twentieth Century, I would have Sunday breakfast with my dad at a dim sum joint at 8am, then get bialys at Kossar’s and pickles at the now defunct Gus the Pickle Man on Delancy.

I love bagels, but bialys are the real soul of that world. If bagels are Ella Fitzgerald, bialys are Billie Holliday.


1 thought on “James Felder on NY Donuts (plus a little on bagels and bialys)”

  1. Great e-mail, but I disagree that Dunkin Donuts and KK are in the same category. DD are technically cake doughnuts because they use baking powder/soda as a leavening. I much prefer their texture over KK, which makes yeast doughnuts.

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