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Purloined Menu

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I had been looking forward to my first Krispy Kreme for years, ever since everyone started talking about the famed doughnut's migration north from Winston-Salem. Last month the franchise finally rolled into Chicago, or rather into suburban Summit. It took me a while to unfold the map and determine that the doughnut mecca is located on a strip of fast-food shops (including a nearly abandoned Dunkin' Donuts) a few blocks west of Midway. Not exactly handy, but a lot closer than Winston-Salem, and--almost--worth the hassle. --Leah Eskin

Coffee There's a lot of hype about Krispy Kreme coffee too, but my cup had that harsh edge common to all pre-Starbucks takeout.

Chocolate Iced with Sprinkles Full half-inch sprinkles with pure sugar taste and clear, no-bleed colors that accessorize nicely with freshly washed snowsuits.

Chocolate Iced Kreme Filled Stuffed with a stunningly white whipped form of sugar closely related to the marshmallow. Tooth-achingly sweet. The custard version is less of an assault, but has a slightly muddled (tapioca?) flavor.

Lemon Filled Like the other fruit versions, this one reminded me of the old-school clunkers my childhood doughnut fairy delivered on Sunday mornings. Lemon overload.

Glazed Devil's Food Once you've sunk into the comforting warmth of the Original Glazed, cake doughnuts, even Krispy Kreme's own, seem chilly and rigid. Good chocolate though, with, oddly, raspberry overtones.

Original Glazed These are what all the fuss is about--glazed ("raised," depending on your heritage) doughnuts hot from the deep fryer, shiny with sugar drizzle. They are light, golden, and warm and absolutely melt on contact, raising the humble doughnut to croissant-level elegance. Still, I regret to report the Krispy Kreme falls short of perfection, in that it tastes distinctly of the bubbling fat from which it has recently emerged, marring its ephemeral beauty.

Powdered Blueberry or Raspberry Filled Same endearingly tender dough, slightly denser in disk form, injected with the sort of overly vivid product designed to convince very young palates that fruit really tastes like sugar.

Cinnamon Apple Filled Syrupy cinnamon-flecked apple gel, similar to that oozing from those "pies" under the heat lamps at McDonald's.

Unless you're on a nostalgia kick, stick to the Originals, which if not flawless are still a revelation. Pretty soon the drive-through window, complete with red neon "Hot Donuts Now" alert, will remain on duty all night long. But it's more fun to park and go in, where you can watch the limp dough's transformation into glowing halos on a contraption seemingly lifted from the pages of that preadolescent classic Homer Price. Price, teenage entrepreneur, is confounded by something like 1,000 surplus doughnuts. There could be worse fates than an extra 1,000 Krispy Kremes.

Krispy Kreme, 5640 S. Harlem in Summit (708-728-0500), is open from 6 AM to 11 AM and 6 PM to 11 PM every day.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): logo and receipt.

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