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As Ariana Grande hits Tampa, are doughnut shops ready for donutgate?



Hey, Tampa doughnut-makers, be advised: Ariana Grande is coming to town. Hide your wares.

In case you haven't been keeping up with the latest twists and turns of #Donutgate, the 22-year-old pop singer was recently caught on camera supposedly licking an open tray of donuts at Wolfee Donuts in Lake Elsinore, Calif.

The fact that this wanton act of pastrylust has, in the end, received more attention than Grande being caught sighing, "I hate America," says a lot about the importance we place on doughnuts in our culture. But it turned out to be more serious than your average adolescent prank. A police report was filed, an investigation ensued, and Wolfee's health rating was downgraded in the aftermath.

Initially it looked like Grande -- who has twice apologized for her behavior -- would escape charges of food tampering, but Wolfee's owner told a Canadian radio station he actually does intend to press charges.

Grande's fans, the Arianators, aren't taking this lying down. Here is an actual headline from "Teens post doughnut-licking selfies in solidarity with Ariana Grande."

Which brings us to this question: With Grande kicking off the next leg of her Honeymoon Tour on Thursday at Amalie Arena in Tampa, HOW HAVE NO TAMPA BAY DOUGHNUT SHOPS STEPPED UP TO CASH IN ON DONUTGATE?!?

Tampa's not exactly Portland, but we do have some prime doughnut shops here that should all be falling over themselves to start a social media firestorm by invoking Grande's name this week. Here are five prime contenders for the task:

Dough (2602 S MacDille Ave., Tampa): The whimsical bakery attached to social media-savvy deli Datz whips up creative new flavors every day (the creme brulee doughnut ... OMG) should already be rolling out Ariana Flan doughnuts by the dozen. If not, they should at least give Grande a shout-out on their chatty, buzzy marquee out front.

SOHO Donut Co. (117 S Hyde Park Ave., Tampa): Here's your other prime contender to cash in on Donutgate. This shop already has one a celebrity-themed doughnut, the powdered sugar-topped Charlie Sheen, plus a huge menu of sweet, salty and savory fare. (Their specialty is the Sweet Cuban, which is a Cuban sandwich on doughnuts.) How about a "Bang Bang" topped with Pop Rocks, or a "Cake Free" topped with cake icing?

Perk's Donut Bar (2109 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa): Perk's is a top-it-yourself spot, meaning you pick the toppings you want on each fresh doughnut as it rolls off the assembly line. How about, on Thursday, giving fans the option of topping their doughnut with a strip of licorice -- you know, like a ponytail?

Disco Donuts: For starters, the name is a perfect fit. But the best part is they're actually setting up shop not too far from Amalie Arena on Thursday night at the Channel District's monthly Flicks + Food Trucks series, which will feature some documentaries and short films along with an array of food truck fare. If you're going to Grande's concert, and need to take a doughnut selfie in front of Amalie Arena, here's your shot!

Piquant (1633 W Snow Ave., Tampa): Technically, Piquant's specialty is the cronut, the doughnut's fancy-pants cousin. But that can be a selling point! "Hey, Ariana, do you still hate America, home of the overstuffed, unprotected doughnut tray? Come to France, home of the sinfully sophisticated cronut! Oooh la la!"

Play your cards right, doughnutteries, and you might get a big-time social media bump from Grande's visit to Tampa. Doughnuts: Is there anything they can't do?

-- Jay Cridlin

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 15, 2015 11:00am]


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