B’More Licks: Diablo Doughnuts: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession

Welcome back to my donut diaries. A raw collection of my innermost thoughts and feelings on life, love and the pursuit of donuts. If you’ve been following along on my journey since the beginning, you’ve likely learned that I have a sweet tooth and low impulse control.

While donuts will always be my #1, I admittedly have an easily infatuated personality. I am an all or nothing kind of gal, and I tend to go all in for many things including but not limited to teacups, the color lavender, books, floral patterns, cows, truffle seasoning, yoga, and my angel-faced cat.

After finishing up January’s read, The Orchid Thief, I looked over at my orchid collection on my windowsill and had an introspective epiphany: maybe my obsessive tendencies aren’t so bad after all. Maybe owning more books than clothes is healthy? Maybe filling my apartment with copious amounts of cow decor means I’ve figured out the meaning of life?

Here’s the quote explaining why:

“I passed so many vacant acres and looked past them to so many more vacant acres and looked ahead and behind at the empty road and up at the empty sky; the sheer bigness of the world made me feel lonely to the bone. The world is so huge that people are always getting lost in it. There are too many ideas and things and people, too many directions to go. I was starting to believe that the reason it matters to care passionately about something is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size. It makes the world seem not huge and empty but full of possibility.” 
― Susan Orlean, The Orchid Thief: A True Story of Beauty and Obsession

And what is the world, if not an endless possibility of new doughnuts to try?

The Orchid Thief is a true story of beauty and obsession, recounting the thousands of dollars and years of jail time people will go through to acquire their favorite orchid, the contagious obsessiveness of owning and caring for a seductively beautiful living object. Obsession is a form of love in the possessive sense, but nonetheless a form of love. And love can be so clarifying, don’t you think?

L-o-v-e is why I found myself at B’More Licks in Baltimore, Maryland in search of the famed Diablo Doughnuts.

For some, career goals and money are their purpose for being on this earth. For others, love is the meaning of life, and I just so happen to find my infatuation fulfillment in doughnuts, making my life easily complete. I’m quite an uncomplicated person, really.

So what is all this dissertation about loving an object? Plato philosophized that love aims at beautiful and good things because the possession of beautiful and good things is called happiness, and happiness is an end-in-itself. By this reasoning, the happiness love brings is mistaken with possession, which is how we get obsessive orchid collectors and losers with donut blogs.

Sometimes love is confused with jealousy and possessiveness, and I am guilty of buying more donuts than I can eat. When it came time to choose my donuts at B’more Licks, I made myself order only two, practicing this healthy doughnut-human relationship. Then I made my boyfriend order two so I could try those flavors as well.

We dinned on:

  • Salted Chocolate Caramel
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch
  • Fruity Pebbles
  • Blueberry Basil

The Blackberry and Chocolate Peanut Butter called to me like the sirens called to Odysseus, but I stayed strong, remembering not to smother the doughnuts with possessive love. Smothering with Nutella is perfectly okay, though.

My heart is full of doughnuts. Literally fat and oil congealing in my arteries. And yet I pursue the wondrous pastries with uninhibited passion, an unconditional (somewhat self-destructive) love.

The word “unconditional” refers to there being no expectations or limitations set. To love unconditionally is a difficult thing which most humans aren’t good at doing. But true love really does love without trying to change the other person — er, doughnut.

And that’s just what Frank and I did. The Blueberry Basil was a breakout winner, with the pop of the perfectly ripe berries adding tactile enjoyment, but all doughnuts displayed an unimaginable profusion of flavors.

Yet again, we ran into the stale cereal conundrum. It seems no doughnut peddler can get this right, as air is not a friend of crispy grains, always softening them beyond edible appeal.

Dr. Gary Chapman introduced the Five Love Languages to the world, detailing the different ways people give and receive love. They are as follows:

  • (1) Words (about how I am physically starting to look like a doughnut)
  • (2) Acts of Service (holding my hair while I throw up from eating too many doughnuts)
  • (3) Giving Gifts (of doughnuts. The way I see it, doughnuts are edible diamonds)
  • (4) Spending Time Together (eating donuts)
  • (5) Touch (don’t touch me while I’m eating doughnuts I’m busy)

I happen to need a multilingual man, needy as I am, who is fluent in all five love languages of doughnuts and well versed in the art of doughnut courtship practices. Thankfully, I wrangled one running around on a horse farm in New Jersey.

The devilish decadence of Diablo Doughnuts has elevated the brand to legendary status around the Baltimore area. Diablo acquired its irresistible bad boy status by offering flavors like unicorn farts, old bay, and honey mustard onion. I cannot attest to the flavor titles being misleading, but Yelp reviews swear by the unique flavors served fresh out of delicious hell.

B’more Licks is established as an ice cream emporium, offering hundreds of flavors of soft serve, ICE CREAM NACHOS, doggie ice cream, hard ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, fancy cones, snowballs, milkshakes and any other ice cream depicted on the Candy Land board game.

The unholy conflation of Diablo Doughnuts and B’more licks has created a magnetic adversary that drew me into the shop twice in one weekend. And even after eating dessert for two meals, one of donuts and one of scrumptious soft serve, I still regret not trying more flavors of everything. Perhaps modern science will soon figure out how to do a transplant of a cow’s four stomachs into a human, allowing us to become the bottomless gobblers we were always meant to evolve into.

Baltimore was quite confounding. It’s a clean, friendly city where people don’t dump their sewage in the water. (Although they did dump industrial waste throughout the 1800s and the local marine population is still recovering from it.) Water quality aside, because really what city can say they have healthy water, Baltimore in October is beautiful. Powered by doughnuts, Frank and I explored the Museum of Industry, the Baltimore National Aquarium, Barnes and Noble, and a few waterfront bars. If it wasn’t for the lack of street chickens, I would consider jumping ship from New York.

There was a particularly important picture taken on this trip. The Museum of Industry had on display an old fashioned donut maker. It was a humbling experience to be able to touch the apparatus that changed lives through fried dough decades before I was born. How many beautiful dough babies did this rolling doughnut cutter bring into this world before reaching retirement? Likely thousands, and for that I brandish it with deep admiration, or as some might categorize it, with love.

Here I am with an old fashioned donut maker. Here I am happy.

Humans tend to be addicted to intense emotion. I happen to feel intense emotion when eating doughnuts (I’ve only cried like twice from a really good doughnut, okay). This intense feeling of deep affection is love. Really, food is love. And if we want to be loved, we should start by gorging ourselves with Diablo Doughnuts.

You’re welcome for the relationship advice. Happy Valentine’s Day.

My Rankings

Flavor: 7/10 – I fancied the fare, I really did. But I would only go back for the blueberry basil, which even then lacked a distinguishable presence of herb. I would return to sup out of my inability to say no to a doughnut, but I am not rushing, let’s just say that.

Bang for Buck: 8/10 – $3.95 for soft serve and about $2 per doughnut depending on the flavor (or free if your boyfriend speaks the donut love languages). A very germane price for the size and quality you receive.

Aesthetics: 8/10 – Keep in mind this rating is of B’more and not Diablo. The outside had fantastic artwork, and I’m a sucker for anything purple. The interior boasted beautiful brick walls and ample natural lighting, however the crowds and lack of seating prohibited me from unleashing my food styling dynamism.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sharon says:

    Juliet, you are such a great writer. I enjoy following your blog.


    1. Thank you so much! I really appreciate the read =)


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