Some women want flowers for Valentine’s Day — I want donuts. Give me donuts, always donuts. My dad was the first person to woo me, as is the case with so many daughters, but fortunately, he knew not to forget the donuts.
My favorite were two maple long johns with cream filling from Dunkin’ Donuts. After church, having duly sat still, drooling in anticipation for an hour, the donuts were finally mine, devoured back-to-back, leaving the middle section with all of the cream for a few last slow bites.
Dad was our donut emissary, the purveyor of post-church rewards, and his stories of regularly gulping half a dozen donuts after high school football practice to bulk up (he was a center) just elevated his status as Donut Hero in my eyes.
I knew my college boyfriend was a superlative gifter when he surprised me on the library steps, not with a dozen red roses like some unimaginative chump (me) but with a dozen of Dunkin’s finest. Sure, there were no maples in the box, but as one does in Massachusetts, there were plenty of Boston Creams.
I smugly bit into that first Boston Cream, knowing that I was probably the only girl on campus who got donuts for Valentine’s Day. See, world, you can have your chocolate, your lingerie, your schmaltz. But if you love me, you’ll just give me a freaking donut. I mean, how twee can you get? The answer is, very (we had yet to exchange our ironically romantic mixed CDs). But it turns out a girl does in fact need more than donuts, and alas, my freshman year romance ended almost as quickly as my self-satisfied sugar high.
It’s harder to find a good donut in New York City than you might think. That’s a pretty good metaphor for NYC, actually — it’s harder to find a lot of things in the largest city in the U.S. than the TV shows might have you believe. Even ordinary things, like plastic recycling bags, tampons, attention spans and viable long-term dating specimens, are either perpetually out-of-stock or available at one store that definitely is in a different borough (probably Staten Island).
But hard-to-find does not equal non-existent, and I embarked on a mission to beat the odds and find real love in New York City, and if that failed, then the best donut. There were mishaps: no-shows, vague texters, actual crazies, fake ingredients, well-intentioned but poorly executed combinations and simply too much. I yearned for an honest old-fashioned in every sense.
Just about to give up the hunt, someone told me about Peter Pan Donuts. And shortly after that, I happened to stumble into my now-girlfriend’s bakery. But I knew it was truly time to call off the dogs when the front desk of my office called me down on Valentine’s Day and presented me with an unmistakable box. Sure enough, a dozen of the best donuts in town from a girl who knew exactly where to get them.