Let me treat you to an amusing anecdote.
Dawn of the Dead was a huge hit in Italy, where it went by the name Zombi. The name wasn't the only thing that was changed; the movie was completely re-edited into a very different version by Italian auteur Dario Argento.
Seeing the success of the movie, an Italian studio decided to cash in on it by releasing Zombi 2, a movie that had nothing to do with the Romero classic. The script had in fact been written prior to the release of Zombi. (For what it's worth, Zombi 2 was beautifully shot by Lucio Fulci, and it is entertaining in its own right.)
My point? Zombies have had a fairly consistent popularity over the last thirty-five years or so, and many have cashed in on it. Why not open a zombie themed donut shop? It's a step beyond what Voodoo in Portland did, and good on Dawn of the Donut for taking it.
As far as how well the gimmick actually works... I mean, most of the donuts are named after Walking Dead characters, with the obligatory Romero and Campbell thrown in for good measure. This, to me, seems like a missed opportunity. Just a nod to the aforementioned Zombi would have been nice. Put in a mention of Fulci's surrealistic masterpieces (some might strike out the "master" part) The Beyond and City of the Living Dead and I would have been OK.
What I'm saying is that the zombie theme seems a bit too pedestrian to me. To most it probably wouldn't, though. And really, in the end, it all comes down to the actual donuts.
The maple bar, called the Coffin, wasn't too bad at all. I mean, it was a maple bar. It wasn't stale. The glazing wasn't too sweet. Yes, that's a baseline maple bar, I suppose, but hey, many have failed at making those. They definitely hold their own against any other alternative in town.
The Romero -- a chocolate- and M&Ms topped donut -- did not fare as well. We might have been into this if we were ten, but as we are not, it came off as being way, way, way too sweet. Hours later I was still feeling I could have gone into a diabetic coma. Quarter of an inch of cheap chocolate and a bag of M&Ms... They probably could have cut down on that.
Sad, really, as the actual donut, when carefully removed from its toppings, is actually quite good.
Gimmicks aside, the fact is that Dawn of the Donut is simply a donut shop. It's by no means a bad donut shop, but it's also nothing more. A donut shop with a zombie -- or apparently Walking Dead -- theme.
Would I be able to taste the difference between anything we got here versus anything we can pick up at Rosauers? I suppose the donuts are somewhat fresher at Dawn of the Donut, but the differences are negligible.
And none of that really matters. Not really. There are lines around the block; the donuts aren't bad; people seem to love the theme. That's great. Maybe it will turn into the tourist destination the owners are hoping for it to become. I wouldn't be surprised if that happened.
Will we be back anytime soon? Should we against all odds be heading up Division with a sudden craving for donuts, then sure. I just doubt that'll happen anytime soon.