The year 1934 was big for the doughnut. The iconic dessert was touted as "the food hit of the Century of Progress " at that year's Chicago World's Fair, and Clark Gable taught Claudette Colbert how to dunk one in "It Happened One Night," which won five Oscars and featured the actor's famous assertion that "dunking's an art."
Sixteen years later, in 1950, the first Dunkin' Donuts opened in Quincy, Massachusetts. Its founder, Bill Rosenberg, licensed the first of many franchises in 1955 and it's been "time to make the doughnuts" ever since. The company now has nearly 11,000 locations in 33 countries, with reported sales of approximately $7.4 billion in 2013.
That same year, Chef Dominique Ansel changed the pastry world with the Cronut, a proprietary recipe that was the perfect marriage of croissant and doughnut. He could have stopped right there, but he continues to come up with groundbreaking new desserts at Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York City.
Pastry chef Waylynn Lucas is also pushing the boundaries of circular sweets. She opened her Los Angeles bakery, Fonuts, in 2009, which specializes in faux donuts, baked or steamed but never fried.
"We…offer a lot of vegan, gluten-free items," Lucas said. "[We] just try to put a healthier modern twist on the classic dessert that everyone loves."
Fonuts flavors include the old standbys that dessert fans have enjoyed for years, such as glazed, chocolate with sprinkles and vanilla cream filled. But Lucas has also created such varieties as chorizo cheddar, coconut passion fruit and blueberry Earl Grey, none of which can be found at the 7-Eleven.
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For lovers of circular sweets, the future looks bright. This summer and fall, Dunkin' Donuts is marrying the coffee-and-doughnut concept with two new products—the glazed coffee creme doughnut and the coffee, cream and sugar doughnut. If that news puts a smile on your face, then it's doing its job.
"I want to make people happy," she said. "That's what a bakery should be all about. It's baked goods and you can't be in a bad mood when you're eating ice cream, or eating a fonut."
—By CNBC's Liza Hughes
CORRECTION: This version corrected the timing of Dunkin' Donuts' release for its glazed coffee creme doughnut.
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