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“Free” donuts cost Astros fan $237 (and the “donut” versus “doughnut” debate rages on)

Apr 18, 2011, 1:50 PM EDT

homer simpson donuts

Throughout each day Craig and I “claim” stories to write about. For instance, I’ll instant message him and say, “I’ll take the David Purcey trade” and then he’ll say something like, “OK, sucker.”

However, sometimes there’s no claiming necessary. If there’s a story involving bourbon he gets it and if there’s a story about donuts I get it.

So here’s this beauty from the Houston Chronicle

Bob Choate, a 56-year-old Astros fan, won a “year’s supply of donuts” while attending fan appreciation day at Minute Maid Park last October. In my case that would likely involve approximately 25,000 donuts, putting Shipley’s Do-Nuts in Houston out of business, but per the rules of the contest he instead received 315 coupons for a donut-and-coffee combination worth around $3 apiece.

As if insulting a person’s ability to eat significantly more than 315 donuts in one calendar year wasn’t bad enough, Choate had to declare the prize value on his taxes and that ended up costing him $237. And he hasn’t used even 10 of the coupons yet. Despicable.

Anyway, there’s a somewhat happy ending to the story, which is that the owner of Shipley’s Do-Nuts reimbursed the $237, Choate also agreed to make a matching donation of $237 to charity, and the Astros gave him a signed Jeff Bagwell baseball and four tickets for his troubles.

Add it all up and the guy has essentially spent $237 on an autographed baseball, four Astros tickets, eight donuts, and eight cups of coffee, which seems like kind of a ripoff for a “prize” unless you’re one of those weirdos who enjoys donating to charity and being a good person.

On a related note: By reading the Houston Chronicle article about this whole situation and Deadspin’s amusing parsing of the story, I just realized that a large percentage of the country spells them “doughnuts” rather than “donuts.” As you can tell by the preceding paragraphs I refuse to be one of those people (I’m a food rebel, as established previously), but the idea that the alternate spelling went unnoticed by me, one of the world’s foremost donut/doughnut consumers, for the past 28 years is mind blowing.

  1. Jonny 5 - Apr 18, 2011 at 1:57 PM

    They have always been, and forever will be “doughnuts” to me. Except when I’m feeling lazy.

    • cur68 - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:05 PM

      Agree. Very French Canadiany looking with the ‘ugh’ in there. I’m for ‘ugh-ing’ up of more words, too. For instance ‘The Loughtus Exige is a helluva car’ and Mariano River’s nickname of “Mo” would be way better as “Mough”.

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:16 PM

        Yes but the Foughcus get’s better fueghl economy.

  2. yankeesfanlen - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:01 PM

    Donut is for shops too cheap to buy the extra three letters for the sign.

    • cur68 - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:06 PM

      Mough Vaughn agrees.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 18, 2011 at 3:55 PM

        or Mo Von?

  3. jasonwinter - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:13 PM

    Really? A doughnut post? What’s next, a post about ketchup? Oh wait…

  4. heyblueyoustink - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:16 PM

    Hey Hey Hey! What’s with you folks, the “donut” is far from hoity toity item, it is the breakfast of the people, and much like anything of the people….like word contractions and good old fashing cursing…..being shortened makes it accepted…..

    Next thing you know you’re gonna tell me you enjoy doughnut houghles with your coughfee….

    • Jonny 5 - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:19 PM

      “Cough” One word that doesn’t know the rules. ugh should be silent. Where the “F” is the “F” sound coming from? You corrected that nicely.

      • heyblueyoustink - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:34 PM

        Unless you’re talking about Charlie Hough of course

      • cur68 - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:41 PM

        You think Charlie pronounces it “Duffnuts”?

      • fquaye149 - Apr 19, 2011 at 4:09 AM

        Yeah, the peculiarities of language can be pretty tough. Learning English must be a rough endeavor, although I’ve met a number of non-native speakers who were no slough at it. Okay, eff it. I’ve had enough. I’ll just exit stage right after I take my bough.

    • heyblueyoustink - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:52 PM

      I think Duff Keegan pronounces them that way…..though that may be an entirely different item all together

      • cur68 - Apr 18, 2011 at 3:45 PM

        Whoa. A Duff Keegan reference and a Duff Keegan’s wedding tackle reference shoehorned there in one sentence. Nice work heyblue! You are the sack. (Heh, heh … See what I did there?)

      • heyblueyoustink - Apr 18, 2011 at 3:49 PM

        I’d expect nothing less from a Crafty Canadjian ( Ren and Stimpy reference )

      • Jonny 5 - Apr 18, 2011 at 4:25 PM

        A DUFF nut would be Homer’s dream snack I think…. Mine too.

      • cur68 - Apr 18, 2011 at 4:34 PM

        Jeez dude, your wife know about this fixation of yours? Leave Duff’s nuts alone!

      • Utley's Hair - Apr 18, 2011 at 5:13 PM

        Seisenta y ocho, who do you think turned him on to Duff’s nuts?

      • cur68 - Apr 18, 2011 at 6:06 PM

        eeew, gross! Mrs 5 has some ‘splainin’ to do!

      • fquaye149 - Apr 19, 2011 at 4:10 AM

        Dough McKagan thinks the Astros have a chance in the Central. And this blog has come full circle…

  5. APBA Guy - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    Of course, my favorite place, Golden Bell Donuts, doesn’t have room on the sign for the extra letters. But I have a great deal of sympathy for Aaron, in this case. Advertising a non specific “years supply” which has an unstated, artificially small limit, how is that not some kind of cruel fraud? If Golden Bell told me, in their Cantonese inflected English that I’d won a “year’s supply”, not I only would I make Aaron look slim after the year was up, but Golden Bell’s owners, who already work 14 hour days, would need a second job to cover the revenue loss.

    And what kind of contest operator makes you declare revenue on an amount so small? Even at the greyhound track you have to win over $ 600 before they withold automatically. Less than that and it’s a wink and a nudge. In this case they are claiming value of $ 945, so his $ 237 tax is 25% marginal, which is 10% more than the Hedge Fund guys pay. That’s also 5% more than the greyhound track witholds. Hey, OG will back me up on this greyhound stuff. And Aaron already has my back on the quantity thing.

    This has a very shady, ruling elite conspiracy smell to it. We need to get to the bottom of this quickly before it infects the rest of the country. Where’s Walker, Texas Ranger, when we need him?

  6. Reflex - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    I’d be kind of annoyed with a ‘prize’ like that. There is no way I’d spend even close to $237/year on doughnuts/donuts. I’d hope I could give the coupons away to someone with more desire for something I eat maybe a couple times a year.

    I have enough problems with my weight. I’d much rather spend those calories on something better, like pasta. Mmmmm….pasta….

  7. Senor Cardgage - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    Doughnut is the proper spelling of the food. Save donut and (ugh) do-nut for the names of doughnut establishments and advertising.

  8. The Dangerous Mabry - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    So how much is this “free” weekend? And when is it?

  9. boxchain - Apr 18, 2011 at 2:34 PM

    Doughnuts? Fine.
    Donuts? OK
    Do-nuts? WRONG

  10. thoran85 - Apr 18, 2011 at 3:13 PM

    The Astros do realize that a signed Jeff Bagwell baseball and 4 free tickets to a game are also taxable events to the taxpayer, right?

  11. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Apr 18, 2011 at 4:01 PM

    While it does not bother me on the same level as people typing “tonite”, “donuts” is still a cheap gimmick spelling best reserved for mall shops and greeting cards, i.e.:

    etc, etc

  12. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Apr 18, 2011 at 4:06 PM

    I wonder if it would cover the Medicare prescription donuthole?

  13. mplsjoe - Apr 18, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    I assume the fan rejected the Bagwell bat in a principled stand against players suspected (without evidence) of PED use, right? Oh, what’s that? He just liked and appreciate Bagwell as a terrific player and appreciated the signed bat as a goodwill gesture? That’s craziness. Whatever happened to principles? I blame Obama for this.

  14. Utley's Hair - Apr 18, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    It’s doughnut—unless you need space, like texting. But either way, it’s nothing but a cake, so you doughnut/donut lovers are cake lovers.

  15. axltcu - Apr 18, 2011 at 5:50 PM

    Being from Boston, I go by what it says on the Dunkin’ Donuts sign.

    • Senor Cardgage - Apr 18, 2011 at 7:00 PM

      I prefer my Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

      • denverdude7 - Apr 18, 2011 at 7:39 PM

        I may be a newbie in the south but Krispy Kreme Doughnuts are simply horrible.

  16. jwbiii - Apr 18, 2011 at 7:10 PM

    Round Rock Donuts (a most excellent bakery and doughnut shop in Round Rock, Texas) spells it “Donut,” so I’ll assume that’s the standard in Texas, as with Dunkin’ Donuts in New England. Where I grew up, we had Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. They spell “Doughnut” right, which makes them 1 for 3. . .

  17. Chris Fiorentino's Rash - Apr 18, 2011 at 7:15 PM

    If anyone here ever drives near a Shipley Donuts, I strongly recommend stopping by. For me its the best (fresh) donuts I have ever had.
    I have only had them in west Mississippi and Hover, AL but they all over the place in Texas.

    I have an uncle that wanted me to quit a really good IT gig to open a Shipley store with him. As tempting as it was, I had to decline for potential health reasons.

  18. lucaszane - Apr 19, 2011 at 2:14 AM

    Interesting article! I just now got Coupons of my Favorite Brands for free from printapons you should search for them online

    • fquaye149 - Apr 19, 2011 at 4:10 AM

      Coughpons. Oh, I’m sorry, universe.

  19. kcroyal - Apr 19, 2011 at 3:20 AM

    Ever had a Hurts Doughnut?

  20. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Apr 19, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    There is no dispute here. There can be only one doughnut. The properly spelled doughnut will hunt down and find all improper versions and decapitate them and receive their power, making the doughnut ever more strong.

    If you use any alternate spellings, you then have been brainwashed by the corporations, hence you likely call tissues “Kleenex”, copied documents “Xerox’s”, and sodas “cokes”. You serve the corporations with blind contentment and unwarranted trust. Doughnuts, of course, are made by frying a dough, not “do”. The “nut” in the name is related (some say) to the original, most common shape of the food when it was originally served.

    “The Oxford English Dictionary (2nd edition) traces the first print instance of the word doughnut to 1809. Contemporary spelling variations (donut, etc.) are typically generated by marketing firms and business owners.”


    • Utley's Hair - Apr 19, 2011 at 11:28 AM


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