Limited-time offers can do wonders to spur higher sales in the donut business.

Cincinnati’s iconic Busken Bakery recently added innovative summer treats to the menu in the form of donuts stuffed with ice cream from regional companies Graeter’s and United Dairy Farmers (UDF).

The bakery’s new Halo donuts were first introduced on Saturday, July 13, and are being served out of the company’s first food truck. Each Halo is stuffed with Graeter’s or UDF ice cream and then hot pressed for a sealed, caramelized glaze.

“This is a hot, glazed doughnut and then it’s stuffed with the best ice cream the city has to offer,” says Kathy Birkofer, director of business to business at Busken.

The Halo food truck will remain outside of Busken headquarters, where the company has added outdoor seating near where the truck is parked.

Busken Bakery president and CEO Dan Busken was inspired to launch the food truck after seeing a similar concept in California.

“So, we never really added ice cream to our products. However, the summer months are not good bakery business months, so we are hoping that by bringing the ice cream into the doughnut that we’ll attract a lot of people during the summer,” Busken says.

Creative specials are catching on across the country. In late July, The Salty Donut, based in Miami, shared its best-selling December flavors, including an apple crisp donut that is stuffed with brown-sugar-baked sliced apples and cinnamon glaze, and topped with apple pie streusel and an apple chip.

The shop also introduced two new Christmas-themed flavors: A white chocolate peppermint donut featuring peppermint white chocolate glaze and peppermint bark topping, and a star-shaped donut filled with strawberry jam and tossed in powdered sugar. Through Uber Eats delivery, The Salty Donut sold a four-pack box that included two star-shaped donuts, one apple crisp donut, and one white chocolate peppermint donut until they sold out.

The peach-stuffed donut is a seasonal favorite at The Donut Man.

Every year during the later summer season, The Donut Man in Glendora, California, makes a decadent glazed donut stuffed with ripe peaches. These high-quality donuts bring in thousands of visitors looking for a seasonal sweet. 

The Donut Man is known for its fruit-stuffed donuts, most notably the peach version, but also a strawberry version. Customers can only buy these when the fruit is in season, meaning that the peach donuts are only for the short term. In mid-July, the California donut shop announced that the peach donuts had returned. From now until the season ends, customers can enjoy this sweet treat. The shop encourages customers to call ahead of time to ensure they’re available. The donuts cost $4.50 each. The Donut Man uses tree-ripened California peaches in its limited-time item.

In other recent specials, Krispy Kreme and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are combining two of their biggest innovations of 2019 with the introduction of Krispy Kreme’s new Reese’s Lovers Original Filled Doughnuts. Available at Krispy Kreme shops for a limited time beginning Aug. 5, the Reese’s Original Filled Peanut Butter Lovers Doughnut has more peanut butter with chocolate, and the Reese’s Original Filled Chocolate Lovers Doughnut has more chocolate with peanut butter.

Earlier this year, Krispy Kreme created a new way to give donut fans more flavors in one bite by filling its iconic Original Glazed Doughnut for the first time, while Reese’s introduced its limited-time Reese’s Lovers Cups to enable fans to make more room for chocolate or peanut butter. Now, Krispy Kreme and Reese’s have reunited for an innovation mashup that treats fans to more of what they love.

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were combined for new flavor innovations this summer.

“Our latest co-creation with Reese’s is our best yet. If the technology exists to fill a Krispy Kreme doughnut with Reese’s Peanut Butter Kreme and Chocolate Kreme, then how could we not offer that to America? Well it does. So we are. And it’s amazing,” says Dave Skena, chief marketing officer for Krispy Kreme Doughnuts.

In addition, Krispy Kreme has produced a limited run of a custom two-pack box inspired by the iconic Reese’s two-cup pack, enabling fans to purchase two Reese’s Peanut Butter Lovers Doughnuts, two Reese’s Chocolate Lovers Doughnuts, or one of each.

Dunkin’ partnered with Hershey’s for a new lineup of treats flavored with candy such as KIT KAT, Heath bar and Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme. The Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme Donut is a square-shaped donut filled with vanilla flavored buttercream and topped with Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme crumbles.

The Hershey’s flavors were available at participating Dunkin’ locations for a limited time starting June 26. Guests at Dunkin’s West 38th Street location in New York City were among the first to try the new items at a special tasting on June 25.

Celebrating sweets

The OBX Donut Breakfast Sandwich features a sliced donut customized with a choice of egg, cheese, sausage or bacon, maple drizzle and chopped bacon.

Donut shops continue to celebrate their success in a variety of ways. Duck Donuts, one of the nation’s fastest-growing donut franchises, is celebrating a dozen years in business with a campaign focused on raising awareness of the company’s origins. In honor of its 12-year anniversary, participating Duck Donuts locations earlier this summer offered customers the opportunity to enjoy the OBX Originals Assortment, highlighting the original flavors from where it all began in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, for $12.

“Typically, milestones are celebrated every decade, but we wanted to celebrate a dozen years in business with our loyal fans by offering our OBX Originals Assortment, featuring donuts from our early days in business, for $12 on June 12,” says Russ DiGilio, CEO and founder of Duck Donuts. “Our rapid, nationwide expansion gives us the opportunity to continuously educate our customers about the origins of our warm, delicious and made-to-order donuts, an idea founded during a family vacation in Duck, North Carolina.”

As Duck Donuts continues to expand across the country, the company wants to ensure customers understand the brand’s roots. The idea and name for Duck Donuts originated in the beach town of Duck, North Carolina, where DiGilio and his family vacationed for many years. During a vacation in 2005, the family noticed there was nowhere to get that sweet staple of happiness, a warm, fresh donut. What started as a whim eventually led to the first Duck Donuts opening in Duck in 2007.

Today, the franchise has 80 locations in 17 states, including its first international store in Santiago, Chile, and has plans to open an additional 145 stores throughout 26 states in the coming years.

Another of the fast-rising donut chains, Hurts Donut is under new ownership at its Wichita, Kansas, location, with plans to add gourmet beverages to the menu.

Featuring unique donuts like the S’mores Donut and the Fruity Pebbles, Hurts Donut now has 20 locations and has served more than 4 million people since first opening in 2013.