Donut holes are a beautiful snack food: small, pop-able, fried. Like all pastries, donut holes are best fresh, but they’re a pretty robust food product—eating donut holes is always a positive experience. Sure, they’re not always melt-in-your-mouth scrumptious like fresh-off-the-assembly-line Krispy Kreme glazed donut holes, but even those boxes of preservative-packed, dense donut holes that you buy at convenience stores are a treat, especially when washed down with convenience store chocolate milk.
Yesterday, however, it was my distinct misfortune to encounter Entenmann’s Pop’ems, the most odious food product ever. When I got home yesterday I found a box of Pop’ems on the kitchen counter. Usually I can resist the siren song of dessert before dinner, but donut holes are such little, harmless things—just one can’t hurt. So I popped a Pop’em and for the first few seconds I was satisfied with my donut hole. It was a bit heavy and the glaze was kind of moist and greasy instead of glaze-like, but whatever—it was a donut hole. Then slowly I began to feel a flavorless waxy residue coating my tongue and the roof of my mouth. By the time I swallowed the thing I had what you might call a matte lacquer finish on the inside of my mouth. So well-varnished was my mouth that I could have easily eaten one of those insanity peppers that Homer ate after he coated his mouth with melted candle wax. It took half a minute before I was able to work my way through the waxy coating and rid myself of the aftereffects of that little shortening bomb.
So Entenmann’s Pop’ems are disgusting. But a food product being disgusting isn’t enough for me to feel active contempt for it. Most disgusting things—black licorice, for instance—I just leave alone. I don’t feel hatred for black licorice, I just don’t want to eat it. But I hate Entenmann’s Pop’ems because they are in the form of something that should be delicious, but they are revolting. I hate them for tricking me, for building up my hopes for a satisfying morsel and then crushing me under a deluge of waxy shortening. And I hate them because not only do they fail to live up to their promise as donut holes, but they go out of their way to assault you with unpleasantness. I wondered aloud as I recovered, “Do they even taste these things before they send them out?” It seems impossible that they wouldn’t. But then again, I used to think it was impossible for donut holes to be disgusting.