Cheapism: Best cheap treats for National Doughnut Day

Just in time for bikini season, popular purveyors of sweetened, deep-fried dough are celebrating National Doughnut Day. The likes of Dunkin’ Donuts, Krispy Kreme and Tim Hortons will be tempting customers Friday with complimentary doughnuts. To commemorate the holiday, assembled a 10-person panel to sample the wares of those popular doughnut shops, as well as grocery-store pastries from Entenmann’s, and point consumers toward the best cheap confections year ’round. In the blind tasting, panelists declared winners in four categories: glazed, chocolate, jelly and iced with sprinkles. Here are their top picks.

Looking for a sweet tooth fix on National Doughnut Day? Krispy Kreme was among the tasting panel's favorites.

Krispy Kreme (starting at 99 cents) has satisfied many a sweet tooth with its trademark Original Glazed doughnuts hot off the conveyor belt. Taste testers cited the light, fluffy texture and generous layer of icing in awarding the doughnut top marks. The chain also emerged a unanimous choice as the best destination for a jelly doughnut. From the raspberry filling to the signature glaze, panelists were thoroughly pleased with the taste. Krispy Kreme is offering customers in the U.S. and Canada one free doughnut for National Doughnut Day — no purchase necessary. (Where to buy

Entenmann’s ($2.50 for an eight pack, or 31 cents per doughnut) supplies supermarkets across the country with blue-and-white boxes of baked goods that cost much less than the pastries from coffee-and-doughnut chains. The company squeezed out a victory in the chocolate-doughnut category, earning kudos for rich flavor. Don’t expect to walk out of the grocery store with free doughnuts, but you can enter to win a year’s supply via Facebook. Entenmann’s has also introduced a red velvet variety in time for National Doughnut Day. (Where to buy

Dunkin’ Donuts (starting at 89 cents) took the cake with one variety: its chocolate-frosted doughnut with sprinkles. A majority of panelists enjoyed the taste and deemed the sprinkles crunchy and sweet. The company is celebrating National Doughnut Day by giving out a free doughnut with the purchase of a drink at participating locations worldwide. In addition to the tried-and-true doughnut with sprinkles, there’s a new flavor to try: blueberry cobbler. (Where to buy

Tim Hortons (starting at 99 cents) garnered a few votes here and there but couldn’t come up with a single win. In general, tasters found the doughnuts dry and lacking in flavor. If you want to try one for yourself, it’s free with any purchase when you wish the cashier a happy National Doughnut Day. Otherwise, it may be best to stick to the coffee at this Canadian institution. (Where to buy

The Salvation Army dreamed up this holiday in 1938 and traces its origins to World War I, when Salvation Army “doughnut lassies” handed out comfort food to servicemen. On the front lines, the story goes, they sometimes resorted to frying up the treats in soldiers’ helmets.

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