Megan Wallgren | Lehi Free Press
Donut giant Krispy Kreme will be debuting new flavors in 2024 courtesy of Lehi resident and social media influencer, the Donut Critic. Benjamin Lee, known online as the Donut Critic, was named Krispy Kreme Chief Doughnut Dreamer after entering a contest this past summer. He traveled to Krispy Kreme headquarters and created several new donut flavors, including a passion fruit cream cheese donut, which Krispy Kreme will begin offering in stores next year.
In a video created for the contest, Lee talked about his love of donuts in general and his admiration for what Krispy Kreme has created. He also detailed his proposal for the passion fruit and cream cheese donut. A few weeks later, Lee was contacted by Krispy Kreme with great news. He won free donuts for a year and the chance to travel to Krispy Kreme headquarters in Charlotte, NC, to work with their culinary team, where he would execute his vision as the official Chief Doughnut Dreamer. Lee would then pitch his donut creations to the CEO, CMO and marketing team.
“It was surreal. It was amazing,” Lee said. He spent days with Krispy Kreme employees working on new donut recipes. First, they experimented with flavors and ingredients. The culinary team gave him flavors and he critiqued and tweaked them. “We narrowed things down to 40 ingredients to turn into six donuts.”
Among the donuts Lee created was the prize-winning idea, a passion fruit cream cheese donut.
“The cream cheese and tartness of passion fruit balance each other out really well. I wanted to put it on something as delightful as the base of a Krispy Kreme, and I think I accomplished that. That was the real pinnacle of it,” he said.
Lee got the idea for the passion fruit cream cheese donut from a trip he took to Hawaii.
“I first tasted passion fruit on Maui, it just blew my mind. The whole time since I’ve tried it, I thought there has to be a donut as good as the passion fruit cheesecake I had,” Lee said.
He saw the Krispy Kreme contest as a chance to recreate the flavor and honor the memory that goes with it.
After the donut flavors were finalized, Lee was able to run the process of making the donuts himself.
“I got to make the donuts myself, from the flour to the sugar, to run it through the machine and eat my own hot, glazed donuts. The satisfaction of doing it yourself is awesome,” he said.
After making the donuts, Lee got to take all six of his new donut flavors to a pitch meeting with Krispy Kreme executives to decide which ones are marketable.
“They liked three out of the six really well. The other three, they felt needed tweaks to pull them together,” Lee said. “Having 50 percent approval on my donuts was so awesome. It made me feel like all the work I’ve been doing over the last couple of years was paying off with the king of the donut world.”
Lee’s Donut Critic account has been active for around 5 years. He started it as a way to spread some positivity online. Lee used to run a blog that became very negative and it wore on him, so he wanted to start something more positive.
“I wanted to do something to be positive and help make people happy. I thought, what could I eat and love and be super positive about every day? And it was donuts,” Lee said.
Among his first donuts featured were those from Lehi Bakery. He added, “I love the square donuts, their buttermilk bar, and their maple bar. That frothy maple is light and delightful.”
“Donuts are a dessert that can be transformed in any which way. Savory, sweet, topped — they are so dynamic. You can find them in a fine dining restaurant or simple shop in town; so much can be done. Donuts are a symbol of happiness and bringing people together. You don’t just buy one donut, you buy a full dozen to share and enjoy with people,” he said.
Lee will be sharing the joy through contests on his Instagram account in the coming months. He has a year’s supply of Krispy Kreme donuts coming his way and won’t eat them all himself.
“I’ll start giving donuts away in January,” he said. “I will also make an announcement when the Krispy Kreme flavors come out in stores. Stay tuned! These are awesome flavors.”
You can find Lee on Instagram under the username “donutcritic.”