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Posted by Chris & Amy Ayers on Monday, December 31, 2012 1:21 PM

outside

As much as we love doughnuts, we love giant doughnuts atop buildings even more, and Los Angeles unquestionably is the place to find these iconic structures. Featured in countless movies, spoofed (alongside Big Boy restaurants) in The Simpsons as Lard Lad Donuts, and seen in the current Toyota Tundra ad campaign, Randy’s Donuts of Inglewood is the most famous location of the 1950s-era Big Donut Drive-In chain. Buffetbuster reminded us of this gem in his excellent trip report and L.A. Weekly ran an excellent series on the chain, but of course we wanted to see and try them for ourselves. Of the ten locations, only four other Big Donuts have survived (and one has been transformed into a giant bagel!). Our chocolate glazed donut from Randy’s was fresh, delicious, and satisfying:

choc donut

Our next stop was Kindle’s Donuts of Los Angeles, which happens to be the chain’s original location at 10003 S. Normandie Avenue. Being older than Randy’s, this giant donut showed its age with a few holes in the plaster:

giant donut

Kindle’s plain raised donut looked to be the best choice, and its fragile glaze shattered at the touch. It wasn’t the freshest specimen, but the sugar rush that followed erased any judgment:

donut

Third on our list was Donut King II at 15032 S. Western Avenue in Gardena. The giant donut looked very clean, but its lettering could’ve been aligned better:

giant donut

More remarkable, however, was the old Sega Genesis controller hanging from a wire to the shop. Our theory: some hardcore gamer, before upgrading to Sony's original PlayStation, sacrificed his controller to the giant donut in thanks for the countless, donut-fueled calories needed to collect all six Chaos Emeralds in the Sonic the Hedgehog game:  

sega genesis

Anyway, we only had eyes for the glazed buttermilk bar this time around, and it delivered the crunchy crust/creamy insides balance that we had hoped for:

buttermilk donut

Our penultimate stop was a first-ever trip to Compton and Dale’s Donuts at 15904 S. Atlantic Avenue:

giant donut

…and we were Travelin-Manned. But honestly, what donut shop closes in the middle of the day and reopens in the evening?!? Mea culpa for not calling ahead, but the interior looked promising. Maybe we’ll save it for our next trip:

hours

Sadly, Dale’s was our last stop for donuts, because Bellflower Bagels at 17025 Bellflower Boulevard in Bellflower rebranded their giant donut as a giant bagel...with what looks like strawberry cream cheese in the middle. Notice that it’s on a post instead of being mounted on the roof:

giant bagel

Now Bellflower does sell donuts, but we couldn’t bring ourselves to order one, since it is indeed a bagel shop. Instead, we enjoyed an everything bagel, toasted with cream cheese. Its surface was completely covered with poppy and sesame seeds and slivers of onion. Taste-wise, it was slightly above the average mark but the kind lady behind the counter made the drive worthwhile. (The bubble tea was horrible, with the tapioca beads nearly uncooked and hard, but that’s a minor quibble.)

bagel

Overall, this was a spectacular tour of programmatic architecture in the City of Angels, and hail to the almighty donut!

6 Comments:

Thanks for this wonderful report. The owners of the other giant donut shops have to be jealous of the fame Randy's Donuts has achieved.
Posted by buffetbuster on Monday, Dec 31, 2012 7:08 PM


Chris & Amy, you're my heroes!
Posted by billyboy on Tuesday, Jan 1, 2013 10:37 AM


Aw shucks, Bill, thanks! Whenever you're ready for that CNY tomato pie tour, let us know...
Posted by ayersian on Tuesday, Jan 1, 2013 10:50 AM


Sorry you missed (by several years) The Big Donut where I spent my youth... Culver City, corner of Washington Boulevard and Sepulveda. Tidbit of Trivia... The Wendells of The Big Donut chain went on to open Pup 'n Tacos all over Southern California. Something very special about The Big Donuts to me. Thanks for taking the time to visit them all and reporting in great fashion.
Posted by mar52 on Tuesday, Jan 1, 2013 2:41 PM


Marlene, it was really fun seeing all of the remaining Giant Donuts; it must've been sad when the some of the originals were torn down. We found out about Pup 'n Taco only after the fact and are now dying to visit one!
Posted by ayersian on Tuesday, Jan 1, 2013 3:25 PM


Will do!
Posted by billyboy on Friday, Jan 4, 2013 10:17 AM

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