Help me deliver a bacon-peanut butter-honey-and-banana birthday donut to someone in Washington, D.C.!
July 12, 2012 9:43 AM   Subscribe

I would like to surprise a friend in Washington, D.C. for his birthday with a special treat; however, it's a donut made in a mom-and-pop store here in Dallas, and I won't be flying up there anytime soon. Can you help me figure out a hack for this?

I figure there are two possible solutions here:

1. Purchase the treats here and ship them via some sort of delivery service, like FedEx. I'm not sure if this is the best idea, since his favorite donut is super-messy. I'm worried it will get crushed and arrive stale unless it's packaged in something like a styrofoam clamshell... has anyone done this? If so, can you recommend any best practices for me? (The local shop doesn't ship items, so I'd be packaging it myself).

2. Find a bakery or donut shop willing to recreate the specific types of donuts he likes best (or already makes a close-enough version) locally in the D.C. area. It would be awesome if they delivered, too, but I have some friends in Baltimore willing to make a pick-up and delivery on my behalf if necessary.

This friend recently quit his full-time job to care for two elderly housebound relatives with rapidly failing health; one of them has dementia and cannot be left alone for very long, so I'd prefer the treats to go directly to him, if that's possible. Thank you!
posted by Unicorn on the cob to Food & Drink (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I live in DC and I'm a teacher so I have my days free through much of the summer -- if you can get it to me I'll be happy to deliver it or pick it up from a a bakery or something.

If you want to order two I can try one to see if they are especially stale. YOU'RE WELCOME.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 9:47 AM on July 12, 2012 [11 favorites]

I'd buy a few of the donuts and then freeze them.

Once solidly hard, wrap in bubble wrap and pack in a little styrofoam cooler some of those blue ice thingies. Then in a box and then overnight to your friend.

That's how I received a package of seafood once. (I was recovering from surgery, so it was a major WTF, but appreciated all the same.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:51 AM on July 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

First of all, this seems like the thing the folks at Hypnotic Donuts would be keenly interested in; what are their thoughts?

I would suggest a hybrid approach. The raw donut material from Hypnotic is very good, so I'd FedEx the doughnut itself (in a well-sealed cardboard box should be fine overnight) and then have the friend in Baltimore do the honey, banana, bacon, peanut butter alterations (with helpful instructions from the Hypnotic folks about PB brand and technique?) Wait, the donut base isn't a jelly donut, is it? That would change everything.
posted by purpleclover at 9:53 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

1. Contact local hipster bakery in DC.

2. Have Dallas bakery swing them to the recipe etc etc

3. Pay out the ass for this donut

4. Be they awesomest friend ever.
posted by timsteil at 9:53 AM on July 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

I wouldn't freeze it. Get one absolutely fresh and then stick it in a Styro clamshell with lots of toothpicks jammed through the clamshell into the donut to keep it from flopping around, clip off the toothpicks to 1/4" on the outside of the styro, put a little glue on each toothpick stub, then wrap that in air pillow packers and the whole thing in a box.
posted by seanmpuckett at 10:05 AM on July 12, 2012

When I lived in CT, I tried taking a box of heavenly Shipley's donuts back with me on a plane, and upon landing opened a box of glazeless, almost wet, "donuts". So if you go the shipping route, my suggestion is to make sure the donuts have completely cooled and that you put them in an airtight bag/container, as I believe my culprit was the humidity on the plane and that the donuts did not had the proper time to cool.
posted by doorsfan at 10:06 AM on July 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Can you take foods through security at the airport? If so, you could possibly find someone who is already flying DFW to DC and offer them $ to carry it & meet your friend at the DC airport.
posted by AMSBoethius at 10:07 AM on July 12, 2012

My Dad's favorite donuts are from Pike Place Market... he lives in Connecticut. Shipped them overnight in a box, with pins put in so the icing didn't come off. If you can wrap the box in styrofoam, that will help preserve the flavor. If you buy them right before shipping, they won't lose too much freshness in transit. Good luck!
posted by eenagy at 10:10 AM on July 12, 2012

If the Dallas bakery is in any way a Local Institution type place, they may offer shipping. Or at least may have shipped things before/dealt with this/considered the notion of shipping a donut. Why not call them up and ask?
posted by Sara C. at 10:20 AM on July 12, 2012

Can you take foods through security at the airport? If so, you could possibly find someone who is already flying DFW to DC and offer them $ to carry it & meet your friend at the DC airport.
posted by AMSBoethius at 10:07 AM on July 12 [+] [!]

If you find a way to get it to DCA, I live close to the airport. I can pick it up from there and hand deliver it to your friend if this takes place between July 28 and August 5, when I will have all the free time in the world for fun donut-y missions.
posted by troika at 10:27 AM on July 12, 2012

You say DC. Do you mean the actual district? or the metro area?

The Fractured Prune is a store with a similar schtick to Hypnotic. They've got a store in Frederick MD, which is about an hours drive out of downtown DC. (All their closer in locations have closed recently)

Maybe order a custom topped batch of donuts and take up a mefite delivery guy or gal?
posted by fontophilic at 10:31 AM on July 12, 2012

Best answer: The thing about donuts is that they decline in quality quite rapidly. A Fedexed donut just won't taste as good as one bought at the bakery that was made an hour ago. And that's before you factor in the extra glop.

I definitely suggest getting someone local to recreate the recipe on a fresh plain donut from a local donuttery.
posted by hermitosis at 10:31 AM on July 12, 2012

I can't imagine that donut, in particular, shipping well. D.C. doesn't really have any off-the-wall boutique donut places in the city itself. Rumor has it the best donut bakery in the city is Heller's (I've never gotten there early enough in the day to confirm), but I have no idea whether they'd be open to a special order like this.
posted by EvaDestruction at 11:37 AM on July 12, 2012

Response by poster: Hey purpleclover, I did ask Hypnotic about shipping and they said they weren't doing it, but that was several months ago when they first opened (and I might've said international, can't remember) - but I will definitely ask again. Maybe they'll be willing to do a one-off shipment for me.

Fontophilic: Said friend lives on Cathedral Avenue, though I need to double-check that he's not actually moved into the relatives' house instead of the other way around (luckily, I still have a few weeks to straighten this out). I'm trying to sneak-attack him with kindness, and my local contact's supposed to get back to me soon with the delivery-address details.

Thanks for all the transit offers, you guys - I might take you up on it! Hopefully, I won't have to, but if it comes to it... y'all are the best. :)

EvaDestruction, I'm going to check that place you recommended out out as well. If anybody else knows of additional shops nearby I can investigate, keep 'em coming!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:31 PM on July 12, 2012

Oh, sorry, I meant your problem seems like the sort of puzzle/shooting the shit chat they might enjoy. Not that they have a shipping operation. (But if they do, please mefi mail me about it immediately.)
posted by purpleclover at 2:07 PM on July 12, 2012

I live pretty close to Hellers and I had no idea they did doughnuts. I'm going to have to do some research... In the name of science... and Metafilter...

Cathedral Ave is fairly close to Hellers (just across the Rock Creek Park).

If your friend does end up being in DC, you can count me as another delivery volunteer! Heck, I can fry bacon and slice a banana for that matter.

I could also probably get you the contact info of a few bike couriers.
posted by fontophilic at 2:35 PM on July 12, 2012

I would buy the donut, put it in a small ziplock bag with most of the air squished out, pack it in peanuts inside a larger ziploc bag without the air squished out, put the whole thing in a Fedex box and overnight it to your friend. I think this method would give you a pretty good chance of getting a fairly fresh donut to your friend.
posted by raisingsand at 2:45 PM on July 12, 2012

Jumping in to say that the best donuts I've ever had in the city actually came from the restaurant in the Tabard Inn.

They're made fresh to order. Ohmygodsogood.

Since fancy hotels generally have a reputation for doing pretty much anything you ask them to (for a price), you might try calling them up.
posted by schmod at 9:12 AM on July 13, 2012

Response by poster: Hey guys, wanted to come back and post an update (including photos!).

After checking around online and lots of phone calls, I accepted that it just wasn't safe/wise to ship anything with bacon, as it could've sickened my friend.


I did manage to find a fantastic little place called Grassroots Gourmet that delivers to the D.C. area - and while they don't make donuts, they do make a "Sweet Elvis" cupcake (banana cake, PB frosting & a honey drizzle) that sounded almost identical to what I was looking for - and mentioned they'd try to accommodate special requests on their website.

So, on my friend Dave's birthday, he opened the door to a dozen of those being hand-delivered with a birthday note - and a full pound of bacon. (Note: They don't cook meat in the GG kitchen, so I paid extra to have them grab it from a local grocery store, but the presentation speaks for itself.)

(And for other doughnut/donut enthusiasts who want to ship a basket o' deep-fried love, Mandarin Gourmet Donut Shoppe was my back-up option, though I haven't tried them personally.)

Thanks again for all the fantastic suggestions - I now have plenty of awesome places to eat bookmarked whenever I get a chance to visit D.C. in the future!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:58 AM on September 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've only ever heard great things about Grassroots Gourmet. My friend had them make a vegan chocolate heart-shaped valentine's day cake for her boyfriend. He had to spend valentines day in court in New York, after having been arrested at OWS, so it said, in beautiful script on top "Fuck the police".
posted by fontophilic at 10:40 AM on October 4, 2012

Response by poster: Fontophilic, that is amazing. These guys know what's up - and reasonably priced, too! Lucky guy/girl to have found each other :)
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 6:56 PM on October 4, 2012

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