French toast: It's portable as a bagel
This week I reached out for a French Toast Bagel at the No. 1 doughnut chain, Dunkin' Donuts, with 10,000 locations from coast to coast, especially in Boston, where they're practically on every corner. In Beantown, it's possible to find a Dunkin' Donuts inside a Dunkin' Donuts.
But you have to admit … they're great doughnuts, and while I'm not a coffee drinker, I have friends who swear that Dunkin' Donuts' coffee is way better -- and way cheaper -- than Starbucks'.
When I heard "French Toast Bagel," I imagined bagel purists pointing their index finger toward their open mouth -- "Gag me." But if the world of bagels has accepted cinnamon-raisin bagels and blueberry bagels and oat-bran bagels, why not the next step, to a French Toast Bagel at a doughnut shop ... which happens to be the biggest chain of doughnut shops in the world? Dunkin' sells a LOT of bagels.
It was bagel history in 1996 when Dunkin' Donuts introduced freshly baked bagels, instantly becoming the biggest bagel retailer in the world. DD's bagels are softer and chewier than bagels in an iconic New York bagel shop, where they're boiled and baked in front of your eyes. Try ordering a French Toast Bagel in one of those places -- they'll laugh you out of the shop.
Remember the "Seinfeld" scene where Kramer holds up a raisin bagel and says, "I never thought I'd live to see that"? Well, here's the French Toast Bagel blueprint: Dunkin's regular bagel, with the flavors of cinnamon, egg, vanilla and butter.
Total calories: 320. Fat grams: 1. Sodium: 590 mg. Protein: 11 g. Dietary fiber: 5 g. Carbs: 55 g. Manufacturer's suggested retail price: 99 cents.
First off, where's the maple syrup flavor in this French Toast Bagel? I have never had French toast dry. That'd be like ordering a cheeseburger, hold the cheese. It makes no sense. Plus, if you're hankerin' for the taste of French toast, I'm sure there's an IHOP nearby, where you can get the real thing.
Granted, bagels have an appeal unto themselves. They're more healthful than a doughnut. Neater than a doughnut. And less risky than eating French toast out of a Styrofoam box in your car.
Bagels, while low-fat, are not low-calorie. They have pretty much the same calories as a full-bore chocolate frosted doughnut, which may be the most delicious thing in the world. And if you put a schmear of cream cheese, even Dunkin's Reduced-Fat Cinnamon Cream Cheese Spread, on a French Toast Bagel, you're hitting almost 500 calories and 11 fat grams -- hardly health food. On top of that, the cream cheese packs 15 more grams of carbs -- it's got sugar in it.
As for flavor, yes, the French Toast Bagel did taste, sort of, like French toast, just enough to make me want to eat a stack of real French toast. Nobody likes a tease.
The new French Toast Bagel is a limited-time offer that is served toasted and features the flavors of cinnamon, egg, vanilla and butter in bagel form. For spread, there's the new and also limited-time Reduced Fat Cinnamon Cream Cheese Spread.
Raisin bagels. Never thought I'd live to see that.
Ken Hoffman's syndicated column appears Wednesday.