Donut King’s voted best in Merced

Doughnuts are removed from the fryer by owner Vannak Sao at Donut King’s at 260 W. Main St. in Merced, Calif., on Friday, June 3, 2016.
Doughnuts are removed from the fryer by owner Vannak Sao at Donut King’s at 260 W. Main St. in Merced, Calif., on Friday, June 3, 2016.

The Donut King’s shop proved worthy of its name by winning the title of tastiest doughnuts as determined by Merced voters.

As part of National Donut Day on Friday, residents began lining up early at Donut King’s on Main Street to taste free samples of doughnuts from four Merced shops: Donut King’s, Manley’s Donuts, Rollen Donuts and Yum Yum Donuts.

Each doughnut shop donated plain glazed doughnuts for 100 participants to test and vote on their favorite.

Donut Pros, a food delivery service in Merced, organized the competition. Michael Keethin, co-founder of Donut Pros, numbered the doughnuts so testers’ votes wouldn’t reflect any biases they might have against any of the shops. Testers rated the doughnuts from 1 to 10 based on best taste and looks. Obviously, taste is what matters.

Yum Yum was represented as No. 1, Donut King’s as No. 2, Rollen as No. 3 and Manley’s as No. 4.

The contest wrapped up about 10 a.m., and about 90 people cast ballots. Donut Pros used the ballots for a raffle, the prize being a free box of doughnuts from the voter’s favorite shop.

The competition marked one group’s first visit to Donut King’s, as they traveled from the Bay Area through Merced. Jack McCarthy, 11, was described as a doughnut connoisseur. He said doughnuts labeled No. 2 and No. 3 tied for the best.

Lily Walker and her daughter, Violette, 8, celebrated the first day of summer vacation by checking in on the doughnut contest. Walker said for her, No. 3 was an easy winner. Violette said No. 4 definitely was not good.

Jennifer Eberhard, 69, said she’s been eating doughnuts all her life and had a complicated critique.

The first one she tried was nice and firm and not too greasy, she said. She thought the third one stayed in the oil too long while being baked.

“I’m determined to find out which one is best,” she said.

Her regular doughnut shop is Rollen, she said, not necessarily because it’s the best but because of its convenient location.

Eberhard prefers old-fashioned doughnuts. “There’s a certain thing in the recipe,” she explained. “Whatever they add that’s not in the plain doughnuts, it gives them more texture.”

When the results were tallied, only ballots signed by voters were counted. Donut King’s scored 635 in taste, Rollen scored 581, Manley’s scored 531 and Yum Yum scored 511, according to Keethin’s count. Manley’s won for best looks.

Keethin said he’s considering making the contest an annual event and adding doughnut shops in other county towns such as Atwater.

Overall, the contest was an excellent way to celebrate National Donut Day in Merced and answer a burning Merced question.

Doughnut shop rankings

By taste:

1. Donut King’s

2. Rollen Donuts

3. Manley’s Donuts

4. Yum Yum Donuts

By looks:

1. Manley’s Donuts

2. Rollen Donuts

3. Donut King’s

4. Yum Yum Donuts