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Aesthetically displeasing.

Duchess Powdered Sugar Mini Donuts (Dollar Tree)

I’ve looked at quite a few different brands of powdered sugar donuts over the past year or so. It’s kind of odd, because as much as I love donuts, powdered ones aren’t even in my top 5 favorite kinds. But they’re usually cheap, widely available, and delicious enough that I get them more frequently than I probably realize.

This time, we’re going to be taking a look at powdered sugar donuts from the Duchess brand, available from Dollar Tree. I would be all sorts of hesitant if Dollar Tree didn’t carry my absolute favorite powdered donuts: Mrs. Freshley’s. Okay, that’s kind of a misnomer, because that is a national brand packaged in smaller quantities for Dollar Tree. But still, it’s available there and, for all intents and purposes, counts. And if they can carry something of that high quality, why can’t they carry something else that’s just as good?

The packaging screams dollar store. It’s a pretty drab foldable packaging that combines a complete lack of eye-catching details, with the barest-of-bare minimal information. Literally, all we get is the brand name, and “Powdered Sugar Donuts”. Nothing else. If there’s anything that summarizes virtually all products made for inexpensive stores, it’s just a straight-faced description of the inner contents. It’s like this packaging was made to be skimmed over in a store.

The issues start right away, and I’m excluding the aforementioned dull packaging. Just taking a look inside reveals several unpleasant realities. A few donuts were already broken, but they also didn’t seem to have “matching” pieces, like the bits are just tossed in with the whole ones. The powdered sugar distribution is very uneven: Some donuts are so lightly dusted that the actual donut can be seen, while others are so coated that it covers up the holes. The appearance is also un-uniform, with a variety of sizes and shapes. That’s not an issue in and of itself, but paired up with everything else, it helps to make the aesthetic genuinely displeasing. In a word, these looked “awful”; I can’t remember the last time I was so put-off by a donut. 

It must be a testament to the donut’s overall perfection that the taste isn’t anywhere as horrid as I was expecting. In fact, I might even go so far as to call the flavor “pleasant”. These won’t come anywhere near my top 10 favorite pre-packaged donuts, but considering their homely appearance, I was expecting an equally disgusting taste experience. These somehow manage to pull it together when it matters, offering up a strong powdered sugar taste, and nothing else. There were no weird aftertastes, or attempts to “enhance” or “enrich” the powder flavor…it’s just the familiar taste of powdered sugar through and through. Even the ones that were only lightly covered didn’t have a weird “donut” flavor to offset the powder.

I can’t recall another time I was so put off by a product’s appearance, yet was so satisfied with the end results. However, with the market oversaturated with powdered donuts, its visual shortcomings are enough to derail the overall product. If you can get products from other vendors that taste similar – but don’t look like shit – then why would you ever bother with these?

Overall: 5/10. Okay, so the flavor ended up “winning me over”, as there’s a strong powdered sugar taste in each bite. But in a market saturated with copycat clones, it’s the aesthetic failures that end up letting this one down. Some donuts are barely coated in the white stuff, leaving gaps where the donut itself can be seen, while others are so covered that you can’t even see the middle holes. There were chunks of donut inside that didn’t appear to have matching pieces; i.e. the “homeless chunks” seem to have been tossed into random packages. Some donuts were also a little tougher than others, giving them the consistency of slight staleness. They’re not bad, but others are far better.

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