Where to: Dunkin'.
Why: To set one’s throat afire with the chain’s newest invention.
The backstory: There are many things I have done in the name of honest journalism, but perhaps none so courageous as sampling a spicy ghost pepper doughnut from Dunkin' on an empty stomach. A spackle of cayenne-and-ghost-pepper spice mix dusted with strawberry icing that looks like unicorn hair dye, this is one of the weirdest things I’ve ever eaten. It’s finished with red sanding sugar, designed either to evoke flames or Lionel Richie’s 1980s wardrobe.
Dunkin' unveiled the treat this week to usher in what will surely be the weirdest Halloween on record. Spicy fast foods are a trend lately, because pain is just part of our lives now: McDonald’s, for instance, recently introduced spicy chicken McNuggets. But that makes sense, at least — spicy chicken is an intuitive culinary choice.
But a spicy strawberry doughnut? Apparently, though, it’s a hit. On my first Dunkin' foray, it was sold out, and the cashier looked at me with a combination of awe and bemusement when I placed my order. Not a shock: There are even several Reddit threads devoted to the dessert already.
“Mine was super spicy, so much so my throat was on fire and I started coughing badly. Then my eyes started to burn and I had not even touched them,” one sensitive diner wrote. (Isn’t life hard enough these days?) Another thoughtful critic compared it to a Christmas cookie.
Reader, I am still alive. My throat is functional, and my eyes are just fine. Truthfully, this doughnut wasn’t even painfully spicy — the strawberry icing is the predominant flavor here. You will experience a vaguely peppery afterburn, but really, it tastes more like cinnamon than anything on the Scoville scale. As ever, the Dunkin' doughnut itself is pleasantly yeasty, a fine springboard for frosting and spackled sugar.
The takeaway: This demon doughnut will not kill you. It might make your mouth sting for a fleeting moment, but the hurt will soon fade and you’ll be left comfortably numb. This is not so much a dessert as a metaphor for our times, available for a limited time only, until December.