UNDATED (USAToday.com) - It happens every summer - but rarely to this gooey, gloppy degree.
Doughnuts have gone utterly wild for the summer of 2013, with three familiar brands - Krispy Kreme, Dunkin' and IHOP - having their names linked with outside-the-box doughnut-ish concoctions.
A celebrity chef - not the Krispy Kreme brand itself - has devised a Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joe (dare we add, with cheese) sold over the weekend at the San Diego County Fair. Last week, Dunkin' rolled out a new Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich - sliced open and served with egg and bacon. And IHOP has just introduced, for the extra-sweet-toothed pancake-lover, Jelly Donut Pancakes.
Nutritionists are holding their noses - and their guts.
"It's not even worth asking about the nutritionals, because you wouldn't want to eat any of this stuff on its own - let alone mixed with sloppy Joe meat or eggs," says nutritionist and dietitian blogger Robyn Flipse. "They know that people will want to tweet about this and say they were the first one to try one."
All of the moves, of course, are PR stunts aimed at getting online buzz and media attention. Don't forget that last Friday was National Doughnut Day. But in the cases of Dunkin' and IHOP, it's also about giving consumers an excuse to circle back to the store. "They all hope that something this outrageous will pull people in."
For Krispy Kreme, however, it's a move that the company says it had nothing to do with. "Our fans always find unique and interesting ways to use our products," says Brian Little, a Krispy Kreme spokesman. The creation was devised by celebrity chef Charlie "Chicken Charlie" Boghosian, who is widely known for his weird, deep-fried concoctions sold at county fairs. He says he sold more than 1,000 of the Krispy Kreme Sloppy Joes in two days - at $7.95 each.
"I got the idea when my wife served me a sloppy Joe a few months ago," says Boghosian. "I thought, why not serve it between a doughnut?"
But after the fair ends July 4, that's it. "It's unlikely you'll ever find a sloppy Joe sandwich at a Krispy Kreme shop," says Krispy Kreme's Little.
Meanwhile, last week Dunkin' rolled out its Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich. "We tried the sandwich with all of our meats, including bacon, ham and turkey, and besides bacon I think the next best meat to use in the sandwich is ham," says Dunkin' executive chef Stan Frankenthaler.
Then, there's IHOP's Jelly Donut Pancakes: buttermilk pancakes with raspberry filling, topped with glaze; more filling on the top - and, of course, powdered sugar. The pancakes, which sell for $4.99, will be available though July 21, says IHOP spokesman Craig Hoffman. They're not made with jelly but with the same kind of filling that goes into jelly doughnuts.
Of the three doughnut options, nutritionist Flipse suggests that IHOP's will do "the least damage." Not that she's recommending any of them. "They all just want something to put themselves back in the headlines," she says. "This should do it."