My friends, it is dead. Snap on a toe tag and dig a hole. The stereotype that casts cops as doughnut-gobbling chubbers is as dead as the many crumbs in your beard.

It came to me last week as a room full of Lewiston police officers walked away from me without so much as a gleaming speck of drool at the corners of the lips.

I had come bearing doughnuts – dozens of doughnuts from nine area businesses. That should have been like dumping buckets of chum into shark-filled waters, but no. They wanted nothing to do with me. A couple dozen cops just gathered up their paperwork, loaded up the Tasers and walked away from all that yum.

“I’m telling you,” Chief Michael Bussiere said, poking his head in just long enough to give me the 411. “Cops don’t eat doughnuts anymore.”

The chief was right.

But not entirely. Thank God, that is to say, for the veterans on the force and for one young officer who felt like being a good sport.

The sticky affair went down at the 3 p.m. shift change in the lineup room at the Lewiston police station. I had loaded up three tables with nine bags of glazed doughnuts, each picked up just a few hours earlier at the cooperating L-A businesses — Grant’s Bakery, Italian Bakery, Georgio’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Tim Horton’s, Starbucks, Walmart, Hannaford and Shaw’s. (Where was Labadie’s? See related story.)

After the surly cops had gone off to fight crime, a few of the officers drifted back into the room. And I’m pleased to say that after all the talk of fading stereotypes and tired cliches, some atavistic cop memory remained.

Of doughnuts. And of what good doughnuts should taste like.

“I don’t even have to eat one,” said Administrative Assistant Sandra Brown, whose office was just around the corner from this heaven of confection. “No. 4 is the best. I can tell just by looking at them.”

Each bag was numbered so as to hide the source of the doughnuts from the tasters. Brown delivered her assessment after simply walking past each table, eyeballing the doughnut chunks inside their transparent prisons.

“It’s darker than the rest,” she said. “It doesn’t look too tasty.”

Some cops can sniff out guilt on a suspect long before the evidence emerges. Brown’s natural ability, it seems, is detecting tastiness in a doughnut without said doughnut ever passing her lips.

“Hey,” she said, “I just know my junk food.”

No. 4 would do well throughout the tasting, with one cop going so far as to suggest he could be bribed with a bagful.

But before winners and losers were declared, there were a lot of doughnuts to be eaten. And in spite of all their indignation, cops do know what it takes to make a good one.

“This one,” said Officer Jane Huffman, “is too gooey.”

Huffman flicked the leftover residue from her fingers, reached into a different bag and nibbled another contender.

“No. 1 is good,” she said. “It almost has a spicy flavor. It’s not greasy like some of the others.”

And so it began, with beat cops and seasoned detectives wolfing down the goods and offering up their thoughts like they were testifying in court.

“No. 4 is heavy,” declared Det. Joe Bradeen. “No. 3 is lighter, but it leaves an aftertaste. It tastes yeasty.”

Fellow sleuth Lee Jones begged to differ.

“This one,” he said, licking his fingers. “This is it. No. 4 is my winner. There’s no doubt. You taste that and tell me it’s not the best doughnut you’ve ever had.”

The youngest of the participants was Officer Craig Johnson. He’s the department’s community resource officer and may have been secretly ordered to participate. If so, he gave no sign of it. He sampled each doughnut, gazing at the chunks, sniffing them and rolling the bits along his tongue like a veteran of the wine circuit.

“With No. 6, the glaze is very mild,” he said. “It isn’t too caked on. It’s not your typical, mass-produced doughnut.”

Johnson also backed up Jones and Brown, sampling No. 4 and weighing in.

“This,” he said, “is a good doughnut.”

Bradeen continued to work, stopping just short of breaking out the evidence collection kit to address the matter of which doughnut was best.

“9 has more of a honey taste, a light sweetness,” he said. “That’s good, if you like honey.”

Another bag, another bite, another opinion.

“Now, 7 is too sugary,” Bradeen said. “You have to have a lot of coffee with a doughnut like that.”

“Sugary,” Administrative Assistant Brown said with just a pinch of indignation, “is good.”

In the hallway, cops buzzed back and forth. Occasionally, they stepped in only long enough to ask just why the hell a reporter and news photographer were hanging around in the hallowed halls of the lineup room.

Det. David Chick stopped to consider the array of doughnuts, but then shook his head.

“I had lunch at Divinci’s,” he said. “I don’t have room.”

The tasting went on. And as they milled about and nibbled, they recalled a time when a cop wouldn’t hesitate to wolf down a doughnut if one were offered. That era, they said, has passed. Chubby cops are almost nonexistent today. Police officers are much more likely to be found pumping iron in the station gym than stuffing their faces at the doughnut shop.

“These days,” said Johnson, “stopping for doughnuts is kind of a faux pas.”

If you want to impress someone with doughnuts, try taking them to the fire department, the cops said.

“If you’re coming to the police station,” said Jones, the detective, “these days you want to bring bagels. Bagels with hummus or just by themselves. We’re a healthier bunch these days. That’s what the city’s Wellness Program has done for us.”

Groans all over the place for the blatant suck-up. But Jones has a point. Back in the day, cops were shackled by a whole bunch of bad habits. Combine those habits with harsh hours and stressful work, and you had whole armies of crime fighters who were in worse shape than the criminals they chased.

“Everybody smoked,” said Bradeen, a cop since the 1980s. “The officer would finish his smoke on somebody’s doorstep and then stub it out before knocking on the door. Later, the guys would stand around, talking and having smokes. I think there were three guys on the force who didn’t smoke back then. Not anymore. This department is healthier now than it’s ever been.”

So where did the stereotype come from? Hollywood probably helped. But so did the sight of all those cruisers parked at Dunkin’ Donuts every night. And while some of the officers of earlier decades did fill up on doughnuts and eclairs, there were other reasons to be there.

“Back then, Dunkin’ Donuts was the only place that was open 24 hours,” said Bradeen. “I’m not a big doughnut-eater, but I was there all the time, anyway. It was the only place to stop once in a while.”

They didn’t have to convince me. I had come to a cop shop with bags full of doughnuts and I had trouble giving them away. And even though the cops who stayed were very helpful, there was no real clear winner in the doughnut contest.

Although No. 4 stood out. It was the clear choice of Visual Taster Sandra Brown and of Det. Lee Jones, while Officer Johnson had given it a nod. And from whose oven did those particular doughnuts spring? Starbucks. At nine bucks for a half-dozen, they had better be good.

Johnson, as it turned out, preferred the doughnuts from Hannaford. Huffman’s choice, from the bag marked with the No. 1, were doughnuts from Walmart.

In the end, I suppose, everybody wins. Cops are eating healthier and are in better shape to keep our world safe. Fantastic. Now, what was I going to do with nine bags still reasonably stuffed full of doughnuts?

“Don’t leave them here,” said Jones. “They won’t get eaten.”

So I brought them back to the newsroom and you know what? They were gone by the end of the night.

The doughnut contenders, with price per half-dozen

1. Walmart: $2.50

2. Italian Bakery: $4.75

3. Shaw’s: $1.50 ($2.99/dozen)

4. Starbucks: $9

5. Georgio’s: $4.28

6. Hannaford: $4.49

7. Dunkin’ Donuts: $5.29

8. Tim Horton’s: $4.99

9. Grant’s Bakery: $4.25

10. Labadie’s Bakery $4.20

What’s in those doughnuts you so enjoy?

The nutritional facts for the Lewiston Police Department’s No. 1 pick: Starbucks.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving (107 g)
Calories 420 Calories from Fat 190
  % Daily Value*
Total Fat 21g 33%
Saturated Fat 10g 50%
Trans Fat 0g  
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 260mg 11%
Total Carbohydrate 57g 20%
Dietary Fiber <1g 3%
Sugars 34g  
Protein 4g  
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
2%
Iron
20%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Allergy Information

Contains: Milk, Egg, Soy, Wheat

Nutrition information is calculated with data provided by the suppliers who manufacture food and beverage items for Starbucks Coffee Company. Variations may exist due to periodic changes in formulations.

By Mark R. Mogensen, News Editor

Sometimes a mistake pays off.

It did for the hard working staffers in the Sun Journal’s Acounting Department — if, to you, an irresistible combination of sugar, fat and calories equals “pay off.”

It all started when one of the spacey editors here at the Sun Journal (there’s no need to out the poor schlub, so let’s just go with his initials: MRM) went to pick up the doughnuts for the latest B Section taste test and got to Labadie’s Bakery in Lewiston at 1 p.m., an hour after its normal noon closing time. All the pounding on the doors and wailing at the windows only prompted several neighbors to come out . . . assuming a party was getting started.

MRM came back to the Sun Journal grousing about why any decent bakery would close at noon, in a feeble attempt to rationalize his oversight, but the fact is: He was lacking the goods.

That’s how the ladies in accounting got involved.

No self-respecting doughnut taste test in L-A could take place without an entry from Labadie’s, well-known along with Italian Bakery, Grant’s and Georgio’s as locally owned bakeries supplying the delicious confections to generations of area residents. Unfortunately, the fine men and ladies in blue who did the bulk of the heavy lifting in our “main event” taste test (see main story) didn’t get to taste the Labadie’s entry. So to make sure the local bakery was included in the test, we took the cops’ top pick and pitted it against a raised honey-dipped Labadie’s doughnut and a cake variety also from Labadie’s in a followup taste test. To say the women in accounting didn’t hesitate to help out would be a gross understatement.

Tasters Linda McCourt, Karen Nyberg, Pam Bernier, Linda Gross and Susan Harrington assembled in rapid fashion with no prodding. “Eagerly” would not be an inaccurate description. Some were in such a hurry they forget to bring pens to fill out their test forms. Others left their babies playing near hot stoves.

A lot of mouth noises ensued, mostly muffled oooohhhhs and aaaahhhhs, but not all was good among the testers. Most declared No. 1 too dry for their liking. “For me not to finish a doughnut is not right,” said McCourt, setting aside her sample.

No. 2 and No. 3 received higher reviews, with most everyone liking No. 3 and a unanimous endorsement of No. 2.

“Luscious. Moist,” said Nyberg.

“Great,” said Gross.

“Wicked sweet. Very good,” wrote Bernier.

“Good — seemed fresher,” reviewed Harrington.

“Finger-licking,” said McCourt, finishing off her sample and maybe more.

The Sun Journal’s accounting squad chose Labadie’s raised doughnut as their top pick (No. 2), followed by Labadie’s cake doughnut (No. 3) and then Starbuck’s, which was the Lewiston cops’ first choice.

The take-away: There are no losers when it comes to doughnuts (insert your own wisecrack using the word “gain” here) and ample proof that a good doughnut is in the mouth of the bechewer.

In all of our B section taste tests, we strive to ensure we leave no local producer out of the test. This week’s doughnut taste test was no different; we tried to include everyone in Lewiston-Auburn who offers up honey-dipped doughnuts. The 10 we knew of in the Twin Cities were already more than we normally test. We apologize to any L-A maker we missed, including the many seasonal stands and apple houses that make doughnuts, as well as to the many fine makers outside L-A.


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