Long John Donuts Go By Many Different Names

For a donut, the Long John is surprisingly controversial. When a Twitter user questioned whether it was a true donut because it has no hole, a dessert celebrity came to its defense: "Ace of Cakes" star Duff Goldman dropped a great response to the question.

And people can't seem to agree on what to call the rectangular pastry, either. If you're out on the West Coast, you might refer to the donut as a "bar." The maple bar is certainly the best-known version, but you can find chocolate bars, too. When these pastries are filled, some folks in the Midwest might call them "finger doughnuts" or "cream sticks." At Dunkin', where the donut is one of the hardest to find of the chain's best donuts, you might see it confusingly labeled as a "Bismark."

So before you go to your local bakery trying to find your favorite donut, you might need to study its many aliases. But there's one name that should never apply to Long Johns: an eclair. Many people wrongly assume these are interchangeable since both are oblong and often filled and chocolate-glazed. But in fact, that's about where their similarities end.

Why you absolutely shouldn't call a Long John donut an eclair

Every culture seems to have its own version of donuts, and many donuts look different around the world. But even if two donuts appear alike, they might, in fact, be completely different — like a Long John and an eclair.

Primarily, the batters used to make each are completely different. Long Johns are usually made with yeast dough and deep-fried in oil. But eclairs are made with traditional pâte à choux — a fairly unique pastry that relies on eggs and steam to create an airy final product — and baked, not fried. Because of this, Long Johns are breadier and chewier, whereas eclairs are usually much lighter and less sweet.

The icing on top is different, too. Classic eclair recipes call for a chocolate ganache topping, a simpler and less sweet coating that gives the pastry a bit of a shine. Meanwhile, typical American donuts are often covered in sugar-based frosting. And while both Long Johns and eclairs can be filled with custards or pastry creams, eclair fillings are often lighter so the pastry isn't weighed down.

So it's true that Long John donuts go by many different names, from bars to cream sticks depending on where they're made. But the term "eclair" refers to a completely different pastry, and there are plenty of legitimate reasons to stop yourself before mixing up these two sweets.