For $3.50, it better be one special donut

Rachel Blumenthal checks out Somerville's newest round-treat emporium: Union Square Donuts, where most donuts go for $3, but the maple-bacon specials will set you back $3.50 each:

I found them to be worth the splurge, but I wouldn't make a frequent habit out of it.

She also reports that Backbar is now making ramen, but that it only makes ten portions of the stuff a day.

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Hmmmm....let's see

Ohlin's - A buck a donut

Linda's Donut's - A buck a donut

Kane's Donut's - A buck fifty.

Betty Ann's - 99 cents a donut.

So why in the world would anyone pay 3 bucks a donut? 3.50 if you want to jump on the hipster bandwagon and it's ridiculous fascination with bacon on anything, including a donut.

So to the proprietors I say this: good luck and enjoy the lines while they last. Let's see where you are in a year when the ever fickle hipster crowd might just move on to the next overpriced shithole.

$5 cupcakes

You need to go to Crumbs. They have cupcakes the size of a baseball. Kickass Cupcakes are small and they do not kick ass at all.

If you go to Crumbs, for the love of all that's holy, get the Red Velvet cupcake. It is the best Red Velvet anything I've had since I moved back here from the Deep South 20 years ago.

Ahead of the curve

You just need to be one overpriced shithole in front of the competition and you make your money. Economists call it the snob effect. A certain amount of people will relate price to quality and seem to think the $3.50 donuts are worth it "once in a while" (daily) that you make enough to be happy while you plan for the next trend.

On top of that

The snob effect explains getting *some* people in the door because of the price/feelings it gives them to splurge.

But on top of that, think about this: Let's say your marketing reaches 1000 people, but you only appeal to 50(5%) of them with the snob effect by pricing yourself at 3x the competition. You will still break even with the place down the street who has better prices. At one-third of yours, they have to now appeal to 143(15%) of the remaining 95% of the public to keep up with you.

This often works out better on the internet where you can reach even greater audiences through social networking a lot easier. You can win on the margins much more effectively just by upping your prices and keeping your overhead low. If your overpriced designer childrens' bedding materials sell for $1500 per bedroom set, you only have to sell about 700 of them to be a millionaire (check out the most recent "Shark Tank" episode where two women were doing just this). That's 0.0002% of the US population, let alone reaching Europe or Asia with your overpriced crap.

I'd pay $3.50 for a donut

I'd pay $3.50 for a donut that isn't your standard powdered, honey glazed, or jelly filled variety, and happily do so at Donut Plant in NYC whenever I'm visiting. Unusual flavor combinations and fresh ingredients will win me over every time (even if I am also totally over the hipster obsession with bacon. And zombies). Plus, I think Union Square Donuts are mostly yeast instead of cake donuts which is also my preference (and much more rare). It doesn't seem any different to me than paying a premium to eat at any restaurant that isn't fast food or pub fare.

Union Square Donuts, I'll be coming for you soon!

These joints sound alright,

These joints sound alright, but they're all out in the sticks. I prefer to remain in the city, around cultured people.

Alright, I'm BSing you XD but still, I actually live in Inman Square, so this new place is really convenient for me-- 15 minutes walking, 5 by car. I won't be indulging there too often, but three bucks for a gigantic nicely-prepared donut ain't too much IMO. Fact is, the only good local competition is Flour, and I go there for other things, not donuts.

Betty Ann's is actually in

Betty Ann's is actually in the City of Boston, East Boston still counts.. It's on Bennington St. between Orient Heights and Wood Island Stations. If you make it out there, TOTALLY worth Betty Ann's. Plus, Carlo's Subs is next door, and they make the best sub in the city, hands down. Absolutely worth the trip.

Sonny and Betty

I went to lunch at Carlo's nearly every day for 5+ years. I don't know whether they are absolutely the best subs in the City, but they are damned good and quite possibly might be the absolute best deal in the City (the place is filled with cops, EMS and MWRA guys - need I say more?). Also, if you want a taste of the 70s (minus the stuff that Boston is all-to-often associated with during that time period), build in some time to enjoy the decor (right down to an original newspaper (Herald American?) with the Queen's visit on the front page).

As for Betty Ann's, well, you had better get there early if you want even a shot at getting anything. As I recall, the place was almost always closed by 11 or noon (so no need to worry about the hipsters ever being in line in front of you at this place).

So what?

If people like the product and buy it, they'll do well. If not, they'll fail. I would pay $3.50 for a decent doughnut over the waxy/greasy bland garbage with the weird aftertaste that Dunkin' Donuts tries to pass off as doughnuts.

Duly noted

I did notice that.. I just don't think it's a big deal when doughnuts a little pricy, I mean they're a treat, not a meal. I'll admit that I'm partial to the vanilla creme filled ones at Flour (I had one yesterday). They're perfectly sugared on the outside, the filling is creamy and not too sweet -not the sugary thick fondanty frosting that so many places use- and not the least bit greasy. My only complaint is that they could probably use a little more filling, but that's a very minor one. I wish we could be a little more like Los Angeles, which has a great doughnut culture. Whenever I go to L.A., I usually make a point to stop at Randy's Donuts on my way to LAX before departing. Their doughnuts are as legendary at their building (it helps that the car rental place I usually use is across the street).

I see your point

and I agree with you on Randy's. Far superior to Winchell's (the West Coast Dunkie's).

My gripe is with those who by virtue of ridiculous prices try to elevate junk food to elite status. It's just not so. I eat donuts once a week. One time more than I should, so when I do, I don't want to feel as if I'm being ripped off because some goofs feel that their product is worth the ridiculous price they charge when it isn't. I'm around wealthy people every day and I can assure you none of them got wealthy by paying 3 bucks for a donut in Union Square, hence the hipster crowd.

I feel that many of them may not really be able to afford 3 bucks for a donut, but once the rest of their hipster clique starts raving about it, it becomes the place to go and woe be unto you if you're the only one at the Burren on Saturday night who hasn't been to Union Square Donuts.

Nice, dvdoff

I'm around wealthy people every day and I can assure you none of them got wealthy by paying 3 bucks for a donut in Union Square, hence the hipster crowd.

I love that. The concept that wealthy people didn't get that way by pissing money away on crap seems to be lost on a lot of people. Contrary to popular belief, they didn't inherit it.

Now that I'm reading your quote again, I hope that they at least tip you well (because we all know that your excellent service is better than the best doughnuts ;) ).

Not always...

Case in point: I picked up a world famous thespian yesterday. Their people requested a pack of smokes and a Blackberry charger in my car.

The principle then proceeded to smoke 3 cigarettes in the back in the short span of 15 minutes and then when we got to the hotel, they pocketed my charger. I got a twenty dollar tip which covered the charger, not the smokes, but hey, I did get to take in their greatness for all of 15 minutes.

And that's how rich people stay rich sometimes.

I concur!

I'd rather pay $3.50 for a good donut than $1.29 at Dunk for a stale, shitty donut. I realize this glosses over the middle ground, but given the choice, I'll pay more for a fresh one.

I also agree with dvdoff's bacon assessment: the bacon fascination is getting silly. Bacon rules, and I can (and have) made a complete meal with it, but not everything needs bacon. Sorta like chocolate and goat cheese, a dose of bacon doesn't automatically make a dish better.