Krispy Kreme Dolly Doughnuts: These Sugary Treats Won't Top The Charts

Krispy Kreme has partnered with everyone's favorite country music fairy godmother Dolly Parton to release the Dolly Southern Sweets Doughnut Collection, just in time for spring to slide into summer heat. The country music icon lends her name and colorful sense of style to a quartet of Krispy Kreme creations that glow with fun hues suggesting bursts of flavor to delight fans of doughnuts and of Dolly herself. Anyone who adores America's sweetheart can now cue up a batch to sample while listening to her classic hits on repeat.

My culinary curiosity got the better of me when I heard about this sugar-coated collaboration. With Dolly turning just about everything she touches to a glittering golden success, I imagined she'd have a similar effect on the world of sweet treats, following her foray into boxed cake mixes and canned frostings. But there's always a chance for the biggest stars to lose the shine when they overextend into projects that don't necessarily fit. Would Dolly's doughnuts be another triumph or would these glazed goodies tarnish the superstar's stellar reputation? There was only one way to find out. So I cruised down to my local Krispy Kreme and wrangled up a box of these tempting pastries and tasted them for myself.

These doughnuts are glitzed and glazed in the best Dolly fashion imaginable

Dolly Parton isn't known for restraint when it comes to her personal style. She applies her maximalism to the flavor choices and design of her doughnuts, infusing each piece with its own sense of Southern charm and homespun gourmet flair. The Dolly Dazzler Doughnut features a bubble gum-hued tribute to the star's glamorous nature. An Original Glazed doughnut is topped with strawberry-flavored icing and sprinkled with edible glitter, plus a trademark Dolly butterfly made of white chocolate. The Peachy Keen Cobbler puffs up a familiar Kreme-style doughnut with peach filling and crowns the cap with brown sugar and crumbles of cobbler topping.

And then, there's the decadent homestyle pie section of this quaintly country-fried pastry array, a pair of flavors reminiscent of the baked beauties found on family tables for generations. The Banana Puddin' Pie is stuffed with a down-home banana pudding take on Krispy Kreme's cream filling, with yellow and white icing and a sprinkling of vanilla wafer pieces. Rounding out the foursome, the Chocolate Crème Pie adds a chocolate brownie cream swirl to a glazed doughnut paired with vanilla whip and cookie crumbs.

Krispy Kreme keeps Dolly's doughnuts sensibly priced

As popular a figure as Dolly Parton is, Krispy Kreme could easily offer these Southern-style specialties at a jacked-up price without missing a beat. Rather than taking advantage of eager fans looking to support their favorite songbird, Krispy Kreme keeps the prices sensible; a dozen is only $3 more than the traditional doughnut box, while individual doughnuts are about 50 cents more. This modest uptick is great for signaling the special nature of these selections without driving away curious tasters. Of course, prices may differ depending on location.

What does all of this mean when you hit the cash register? You can hit "play" on Dolly's Southern Doughnut Collection as a box set featuring two each of Dolly Dazzlers, Chocolate Crème Pie, Peachy Keen Cobbler, and Banana Puddin' Pie, with four traditional glazed to fill out the rest of the box, for $21.99 as of publication. You can also pick up each flavor as a single for $2.89 a pop. In addition to the doughnuts, the chain is also sharing a Peachy Keen Lemonade Flavored Chiller as part of the collection, though adding a sugary drink to a sugary round of doughnuts is sure to be sweetness overload. As all-around sweet as Dolly is, you might want to consider separate trips if you're interested in sampling the whole shebang.

Dolly's doughnut tour is a limited time only situation

As with other special selections, Krispy Kreme keeps the details on the dates close to the vest for Dolly's Sweet Southern Doughnut Collection. According to the website, this sugary EP is available as a limited-time offer beginning on Saturday, May 18, and lasting until further notice. The familiar drumbeat of "get them before they go" punctuates the whole promotion, stirring up excitement in hopes of driving a stampede of Dolly aficionados to drive-thrus and counters across the U.S. as quickly as possible.

To get customers in the spirit of this new collection, Krispy Kreme is offering a free Original Glazed doughnut to anyone who comes in on release day dressed in full Dolly regalia. If you're too shy or too busy to get all Doll-ed up for the occasion, the crew will also accept your best rendition of a Dolly song as payment for your freebie. The best part: You don't even have to try the Dolly doughnuts to participate. Chances are, if you're headed there all glammed up, you're probably going to give them a try anyway. Clever marketing like this rarely goes to waste.

Dolly's doughnuts take familiar Krispy Kreme blueprints in cozy new directions

There's no mistaking the similarity between the singles in Dolly's Southern Doughnut Collection and the other selections Krispy Kreme offers. Even the descriptions on the website menu call out the base doughnuts as either Original Glazed or Unglazed Krispy Kreme templates with a hearty dose of Dolly Parton decoration. This similar-but-different format makes for an easy fit among the rest of the doughnuts in the Krispy Kreme juke box while also giving the new bops a chance to stand out a little and shine on their own.

The result of all this overlap-with-upgrades means doughnut lovers who aren't onboard with a Dolly-fied version of Krispy Kreme creations may still find a reason to try out these selections, sneaking them into their usual order without too much fuss. And for those who come looking specifically for Dolly's delights, there's a spotlight shining on these special guests that's enough to make your visit feel like a VIP experience.

These Southern treats are made for enjoyment, not for nutrition

I wasn't expecting encouraging things when researching the nutritional value of Krispy Kreme doughnuts designed by Dolly Parton. So there were no real surprises when I discovered the facts about each recipe. If you're looking to add doughnuts of any kind to a healthy diet, you might need to start from scratch with your idea of nutrition. As for those with a bit more flexibility in their eating regimens, a Dolly doughnut is exactly what you think it is: a rich treat to be enjoyed in moderation and with great gusto. If you're going to pile on the calories and sugar, it should be a delightful experience because it's not going to tick off any boxes on your mindful eating bingo card.

The calories are called out clearly on the site, ranging from the Dolly Dazzler chiming in with 260 calories to Banana Puddin' Pie belting out a substantial 350 calories. The fat content ranges from 15 grams for Chocolate Crème Pie to 17 grams for Banana Puddin' Pie, while the sugar rides a spectrum between 19 grams in Peachy Keen Cobbler and 25 grams in Banana Puddin' Pie. Needless to say, these doughnuts are comfort food, not a staple. It's doubtful that even Dolly Parton's daily diet includes regularly consuming these doughnuts.

Dolly's Krispy Kreme doughnuts are a mix of hits and misses

Just like their namesake, Dolly's Southern Doughnut Collection is a quartet of sweet and well-intentioned creations that make a splashy showcase for her ever-expanding empire. But despite the thoughtful design elements and joyful presentation, the flavors promised don't come through as advertised. Chocolate Crème Pie looks like it should be bursting with fudgy flavor, but there's only a hint among the sweetness of the usual Krispy Kreme glaze. The Peachy Keen Cobbler claims to have real peaches, but it tastes more like a caramel-filled doughnut, though the texture of the crunchy topping is a nice touch. And there's a reason the website listing for the Banana Puddin' Pie contains a disclaimer that it contains no real bananas; it also contains no discernible banana flavor, just a strange sweetness that captures the pudding texture but comes off as bland taste-wise.

The best of the bunch is the Dolly Dazzler, which starts off softly but blossoms to reveal an artificial strawberry essence as you chew. It turns out to be a fun though probably unintentional Frankenberry element. Overall, it feels like two promotional teams went to great trouble to capture the spirit of Dolly Parton but fell short when creating Krispy Kreme flavors that can withstand the spotlight. Being a limited edition collection, these doughnuts are certain to draw in curious fans, but doughnut die-hards should save their money for a better show.

How I performed my taste test

There wasn't much science that went into this taste test. As soon as I heard these doughnuts were dropping, I made tracks to the closest Krispy Kreme on release day to grab a boxful. Since the collection has four distinctly different flavors, I tasted a sliver of each one on its own, clearing my palate with water in between tastes to make sure the elements didn't overlap. Being a doughnut fan, I knew there was a possibility I'd devour my favorite if I didn't apply some discipline. But I also figured that any of these four fantastic-sounding selections could capture my attention enough to require an immediate second bite. Unfortunately, they were all so overwhelmingly sugary, one bite was all it took to make my assessment.

Because the focus in these doughnuts turns out to be sweetness rather than recreating the flavors they represent, it wasn't difficult to determine the most favorable member of the band. The artificial strawberry flavor of the Dolly Dazzler is the only component that rises above the cloying sweetness the other doughnuts present in an overly-ambitious attempt to please a crowd. This made choosing the most workable formula a simple task, despite my high hopes of all four flavors playing nicely together.