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East Memphis Donut Guide

In today’s organic, gluten free, no sugar, no fun, watch what you eat world, it is nice to occasionally let kids be kids. For most people, childhood is the only time in their lives that they can eat a donut (or three) and not immediately gain 5 pounds. I am a strong believer in balance: force a kid to eat 100% healthy 100% of the time and you’re going to have an angry little quinoa monster on your hands. Let a child indulge in an unhealthy snack every now and again, an occasional donut never hurt anyone (except for diabetics, people with gluten allergies, and I’m sure a bunch of other people that I know nothing about because I am not a doctor and I am not qualified to make statements about health; this is a blog, do not believe anything that I say) and the world will be a happier place. Luckily for everyone, there are a lot of donut options to pick from in the Memphis area.

Early one Sunday morning, this Mother of the Year loaded up her two year old son and her four year old nephew and headed out to explore the wonderful world of (East Memphis) donuts. I had big plans to travel to donut shops all over Memphis, but my plans quickly changed. I most certainly underestimated the impact riding in the car with two sugar infused toddlers would have on my sanity. The following is a recap of our morning:

Howard’s Donuts

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Our first stop was Howard’s Donuts. Howard’s was clean, they had donuts garnished with decorative rings for the kiddos, and a chalk board wall. My son and nephew both selected an “X” shaped donut with icing and sprinkles and demolished them within minutes. I would recommend the cruller donuts for us old folks. Howard’s is a classic neighborhood donut shop and their donuts are definitely worth checking out.

2 year old critique: “Ring is for the donut dinosaur ring.” (Not the answer I was expecting.)

4 year old critique: “I give it a 10 because it is soft.” (Soft is good.)

Memphis Donuts

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Our second stop was Memphis Donuts. This was my first time in Memphis Donuts. It is conveniently located right across from East High School on Poplar Avenue. My son wasn’t too impressed with the donut that he chose, my nephew didn’t finish his entire donut, and the atmosphere left something to be desired. Memphis Donuts may be wonderful most of the time, but overall we didn’t have a great experience. However, the kolache (which I had never heard of, let alone eaten before) was delicious.

2 year old critique: “I’m a Stormtrooper, Stormtroopers are bad guys.” (They are indeed, little one.)

4 year old critique: “It was half good.” (So, half bad?)

Café Eclectic

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Next we checked out Café Eclectic. Admittedly, I chose this spot for the coffee selection and thought it would be a great break from the traditional donut shops we were visiting. However, I was actually surprised at how good their donuts were. My son gobbled up their sprinkled donut, and, from the crumb he left me, it was easy to see why. The donut was moist and cakey. I would highly recommend Café Eclectic as a great place to make both adults and kids happy.  

2 year old critique: “We ate it all.” (He is extremely observant for his age.)

4 year old critique: By this point, the 4 year old was refusing to participate. He apparently hit his sugar quota for the day.

Gibson’s Donuts

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We saved the best for last. There is not much I can say about Gibson’s that hasn’t already been said. Alton Brown from the Food Network declared the glazed donut from Gibson’s his favorite donut in the USA. And really, Gibson’s never disappoints. We arrived at approximately 9:30 a.m. (on a Sunday morning) and the atmosphere was chaotic yet inviting. The line moved quickly and we were able to find a booth. By the time we arrived at Gibson’s the boys had already eaten their way through three donuts a piece and I was worried the hungry, hungry caterpillars weren’t going to be up for any more sweets. Boy was I wrong. The variety and selection at Gibson’s can’t be beat. Gibson’s reminds me of my childhood and I really enjoy sharing their donuts with my son (and nephew).

2 year old critique: “Can I keep this?” (It’s food, not a pet.)

4 year old critique: “Sticky, good, my favorite.” (By the time we made it to Gibson’s he was back in donut crushing mode.)

Our morning, though I wouldn't rush to repeat it, was a fun adventure.

I know there are more places to eat donuts in Memphis; however, if I took these kids to one more place I think it would've put them over the edge.  If you've got a favorite, we'd love to hear what your go-to places are to grab donuts here in our city!

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