Over 60% Of People Think This Is The Best Donut Chain

While Mashed previously ranked Krispy Kreme as the best donut chain, we wanted your opinion. So we asked and almost 40,000 people worldwide voiced their opinion on the matter.

The clear winner of this poll was Krispy Kreme, which commanded 61% of the vote. Dunkin' Donuts drew a distant second with 24%. In third sat "other" with 9%, which received the preference for various smaller chains, such as Philadelphia's Dottie's Donuts; Voodoo Donuts in Portland, Ore.; and Bosa Donuts, an Arizonan chain. The winner of this category, however, was Shipley's, a Texas-based regional chain that was well represented in the write-in answers.

After the amalgamation of "other" comes Canadian chain Tim Horton's with 6%. In an uncontested last place, Top Pot Doughnuts wheezed in with a 1% that Shipley's would probably have beaten had we included it as an option proper.

No one can dispute the fact that Krispy Kreme has won this handily. However, as The News & Observer, well, observes, the two fanbases rarely overlap, which means attempts to convince Dunkin' fans that Krispy Kreme is, in fact, better would fail. This observation was heightened by the context of the piece, which was that JAB Holding Co. — the company that owns Krispy Kreme, Peet's Coffee, and Panera Bread — considered adding Dunkin' Donuts to its portfolio. 

Such a move would've enshrined Krispy Kreme's dominance. However, that news floated in 2017 and no purchase has occurred, so the vocal Munchkin-loving minority may breathe more easily.

Here's why Dunkin' Donuts didn't really stand a chance

The bigger question for this survey is whether Dunkin' Donuts had much of a chance in this competition. On the About Us page of their website, Dunkin' Donuts bills itself as "the world's leading baked goods and coffee chain," and while they do start with their donut selection, it is not at the expense of "crew members who know exactly how you want your drink." In short, Dunkin' Donuts is not a donut chain in the way Krispy Kreme is. Rather, it is equal parts coffee chain and donut/baked good chain. So, a more apt comparison would have been Starbucks, to which it could have lost anyway.

The difference in focus is reflected in sales. In a 2016 piece covering JAB's acquisition of Krispy Kreme, National Restaurant News noted part of the deal could have been their promise to make coffee a more prominent part of Krispy Kreme, like Peet's Coffee or Panera Bread. Coffee, for Krispy Kreme, represented 5% of sales, while half of Dunkin' Donuts' income is due to beverages. That difference has resulted in Dunkin' Donuts owning 7,677 franchises in the U.S. alone, according to National Restaurant News, while in August 2020, CNN pegged Krispy Kreme's American presence at 400 stores and 1,400 in total. After all, more people require coffee on a regular basis than donuts. 

All of this, however, just hedges around the result that people overwhelmingly prefer Krispy Kreme's donuts to Dunkin' Donuts, as reflected in our rankings.