Every glazed must kneel, every jelly must bow…. Dayton, Ohio is home to many things, including the World’s Best Donuts since 1960. Bill’s Donut Shop is no doubt a Miami Valley icon, located at 268 N. Main Street in Centerville. They have won countless local awards, and have been featured nationally in Saveur Magazine, USA Today, and even recently on the Ellen Degeneres Show. We think it is not a big step to proclaim these the “World’s Greatest Donuts.” If you don’t believe it, let the Food Adventures Crew edify you.
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Local celebs like ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, WHIO’s Mike Hartsock and University of Dayton legend, Don Donaher have named Bill’s as their favorite. Even national talk show host Phil Donahue, Congressman Mike Turner and singer Chet Atkins have given the donut shop accolades. We have also found many Daytonians who have moved away, always take time to stop at Bill’s Donuts and get their fix. Many who come in form out of town introduce their spouses or kids to the donuts, so the next generation can worship the legend. The shop has a cult following of regulars, some sit at the coffee bar, others in booths, One notable patron Kevin, who is also called “Dewey” is a friendly man who has been a fixture there since the 80’s.
This place is popular… like grass roots popular. Even without the celeb endorsements. For example, this Saturday Bill’s Donut Shop is hosting the annual Superhero 5k run for A Special Wish Foundation. The 5k had room for 500 runners and it sold out a week in advance. We think the 5k’s “donut after party” had something to do with the sellout.
So, with all the press, popularity and endorsements, why is Food Adventures writing an article on Bill’s Donut Shop? The answer is simple, we dig deeper. We dig into not only which individual donuts are the best of the best, but we ask “WHY?” What is the secret that makes these the most delectable donuts on earth?
HERE’S THE SKINNY:
— Original owners Bill and Faye Elam opened Bill’s Donuts in 1960. In 1995, they sold the business to two of their children, Lisa and Jim Elam.
— One of the biggest attractions is that the donut shop is open 24 hours a day, except for certain holidays.
— The best donuts in the world run about 80 to 85 cents each. There are 2 different types of donuts the yeast ones (glazed) and the cake donuts, but in recent years they have added some delicious danish, creme horns, muffins and more. All of them live up to the delicious standards of Bill’s, especially the huge chocolate brownies with chocolate icing.
— Also known for their coffee, typically Boston Stoker, they also offer milk, juices and hot chocolates and a mini cappuccino bar.
— The booths are old and tight, the coffee bar seating is definitely a throwback style. Warning – you may find long lines on Saturday and Sunday mornings, but the lines go fast. It is worth it for the magic inside the display cases. Another thing.. we call it one of our “fat kid tricks.” If you have the donuts a day or two later, pop them in the microwave for about 15 seconds. It makes them taste brand new again.
— Bill’s Donut Shop is also a huge supporter of local causes. They donate to dozens of charities and have been sponsoring local sports teams for many decades. They have a strong family belief in giving back to the community, which is deeply ingrained in their corporate philosophy.
— The Secret to the “Best Donuts in the World”, according to owner Lisa Elam is in 3 parts:
1) Bill’s uses only the purest, top quality oil to fry their donuts.
2) Top quality sugar and flour go into the donut recipes. Only the best ingredients have been used since 1960.
3) Cooking expertise from decades of experience. There is something to be said for experience and knowledge of workers who have been employed for 20 years or more. They know their craft, they know their industry and have developed a skill and a style. Most of the workers are truly seasoned veterans and expert donut makers overseeing the operation, not someone who has been working there a few months.
We now explore the ultimates in donut world.. which ones are the best? Which ones are the MUST EATS… The Food Adventures Crew has done their homework on this one. The King, Hungry Jax, Chef House and The Big Ragu have literally eaten dozens and dozens of these donuts over the years. Probably enough to fill up Vin Diesel’s car trunk. So here is the result of our years of research….
—THE PRETZEL DONUT: A huge pretzel shaped, glazed monster you have to twist to pull apart. Some parts of the donut are gooey and fresh, while other parts have the cooked glazed crust. This is the Big Ragu’s favorite donut of all time. It is a melt in your mouth delight.
—THE CHOCOLATE ICED ROUNDS WITH CREME FILLING: A simple round donut, iced with chocolate icing and injected with light cream.
Hungry Jax points to these as her favorites. The creme texture mixed with the icing and one of a kind Bill’s Donut flavor will put you on Dream Street.
—THE PEANUT BUTTER FILLED LONGJOHNS WITH CHOCOLATE ICING: Chef House’s favorite donut from Bill’s is one of their most sought after. This large rectangle pastry is iced with chocolate and stuffed with peanut butter creme. It’s one of those treats you bight into and say with a full mouth, “are you kidding me?”
—THE BUTTERY TWISTS: Are resident sweets expert, The King, will tell you that this is the best choice in Bill’s display case. A big donut that is buttery glazed and big on taste. Melt in your mouth delicious.
— THE CHOCOLATE GLAZED: WARNING! A glass of milk must be within 3 feet of you when eating these. These devilsfood cake donuts are the cats meow. We could eat a dozen of these ourselves.
— THE PERSIAN WITH NUTS: Huge cinnamon buns with peanut butter icing and crushed peanuts on top. Rich, filling and sinful, what a great way to start a morning.
— THE SOUR CREAM DONUT: It tastes nothing like it sounds. this is an old fashioned style, almost crunchy donut made with a bit of sour cream. The result is the inside is a lightly fluffy, vanilla flavor. The outside is a nice crunchy brown coating with a glaze.
— APPLE CRISP MUFFINS: How did they fit an apple pie into a muffin? This is the dark horse of the whole place and a rare sight. So grab ’em when you can. Thank us later, it will bring tears to your eyes.
Honorable Mention: The Blueberry Donuts are amazing. Also, you cant go wrong with a Jelly Donut with Vanilla Icing or a Powdered Donut filled with Cream. They also have a few donuts that are Custard Filled. The Big Ragu says the custard filled donuts will knock your socks off. There are so many others like the Apple Fritters and the Crullers, which when you say it sounds like you are gurgling salt water. Even the “Doughnut Stix” kick butt.
Again we say, every donut hole must kneel, every Long John must bow. Sprinkles or not, you have now experienced the upper echelon of the breakfast / dessert world. You have experienced the pinnacle of pudding in a glazed bun. You are lucky to live in Dayton, Ohio.. for you have experienced Bill’s Donut’s… The Greatest Donuts in the World.
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Check out our gallery below and see all the wonderful, magical donuts that Bill’s Donut Shop has to offer !
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