We Have No Goddamn Clue How We Feel About Mustard Doughnuts

·3 min read
Photo:  Dennis Lee
Photo: Dennis Lee

Saturday, August 6, is National Mustard Day. This year, popular condiment brand French’s has paired up with New York bakery Dough Doughnuts to release a yellow-mustard-iced doughnut with a cake crumble topping. You’ll be able to score a free box of two mustard doughnuts on Dough’s website starting at 3 p.m. Eastern on August 6 (available for national shipping), but you’ll need to move fast, since promotions like this run out within minutes. New York City residents will also be able to get a free doughnut in person at all six Dough locations on Saturday. If you’re skeptical that such a product could be worth eating, you came to the right place.

French’s sent a few mustard doughnuts for The Takeout to try, and everyone at the office approached the pastries with a healthy dose of caution. But not me. I ran into the break room with my arms flailing, ready to tackle this doughnut with reckless abandon.

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The doughnut is a cheerful yellow color, and if you didn’t know what that color was trying to tell you about its flavor, you’d probably think it was a citrus-based offering. Too bad for you.

hand holding piece of doughnut
hand holding piece of doughnut

The pastry itself was a little thick and bready, but that’s not what we were here to judge. We were here for the mustard. And boy, was it present.

Mustard, it should be said, is having a moment. We recently tasted Van Leeuwen’s Grey Poupon ice cream, which was sadly a little muted in the Dijon department. After being disappointed by this mustardy dessert, we were looking for a novelty item that wasn’t afraid to show its vinegary side. The French’s mustard doughnut was certainly unafraid.

The sharp yellow mustard flavor cut straight through the carby doughnut, comprising the dominant flavor of each bite. The icing, however, was somehow still as sweet as the glaze on any doughnut you’re familiar with—and this is where things come to a head.

How does the French’s mustard doughnut taste?

I can’t for the life of me tell if it was good. I can definitively say that it wasn’t actively bad, which is a positive turn of events. But it’s not often I become this flabbergasted by anything I’ve eaten. Usually, it’s easy to tell where I fall: I either want more of something or I don’t want it at all. In this case, it’s like half of me wanted to break off another big chunk, and the other half of me told me to leave the thing alone forever.

My coworker from The Onion tasted a small morsel, and as soon as she began to chew it, her eyes opened really wide. I watched as a range of emotions flashed across her face.

“It tastes like a hot dog doughnut,” she said. When I asked if she liked it, she replied, “I wouldn’t eat this again.” Fair enough.

“I’m... kind of disgusted by that,” said another coworker after some thought, filling a glass of water to cleanse his palate.

The Takeout’s managing editor Marnie Shure had thoughts on the mustard doughnut, too, and while hers were a bit more excited, they were just as inconclusive as mine.

“It’s honestly a little thrilling that they weren’t afraid to go for it with the mustard flavor,” Shure said. “I’m surprised and impressed that it both smells and tastes like mustard—and that those flavors align with the sweetness of the doughnut somehow. Like, the vinegar flavor makes a turn toward sweet instead of sour.”

Some people ended up spitting out their sample, while some people complimented it—but no one was reaching for another helping. Is a food considered “divisive” if even the positive reviews aren’t quite sure they’re actually positive? I found more questions in my soul than answers, with no firm conclusion. I’ll be thinking about this mustard doughnut for a long time. Hopefully everyone else who tastes it is similarly cursed to ponder its existence, on into infinity.