It’s National Donut Day! Get your (sometimes free) fix in the East Bay

Third Culture Bakery is offering a free mochi donut with purchase of any item at its West Berkeley showroom. Photo: Third Culture Bakery

It’s hard to find a national holiday that remains untouched by controversy. Which is what makes National Donut Day such a delight.

The event began in the trenches of World War I, when volunteers with the Salvation Army opened comfort stations serving hot meals to service members at the front. Unable to transport ovens through the muck of the trenches, volunteers made do with what limited supplies they had: dough, sugar, oil and helmets, which could double, if needed, as frying pans. And so the donut, then as now, became the go-to answer for those in need of comfort in a hurry.

For those looking for a deal this National Donut Day, a few East Bay donut shops and cafés are even offering specials in celebration.

Though most famous for its mochi muffins, Third Culture Bakery’s colorful and Asian-inflected mochi donuts are growing in popularity. For National Donut Day, it’s offering patrons a complimentary donut with purchase of any item at its West Berkeley showroom. Third Culture’s donut offerings that day will include its weekday standards — like ube, mango, matcha, dark chocolate, and sesame — and also its seasonal selection — like blood orange vanilla, honey saffron with pistachios and Vietnamese coffee — for a total of 14 different flavors.


Because Third Culture uses Mochiko rice flour in place of wheat in its baking, its menu is a boon for customers on a wheat-free diet.

“We are one of the few gluten-free options, offering a gluten-free donut that’s baked, rather than fried,” said store manager Jordan Smith. “I know we have a lot of customers that appreciate that.”

Third Culture is partnering with 1951 Coffee Company this National Donut Day, and patrons can find the same deal of free donut with purchase at two 1951 locations — at its café at 2410 Channing Way and at its ASUC Student Union café at 2495 Bancroft Way.

Now, to give credit where credit is due, there are also two national chains with locations in the East Bay participating in this year’s event. Both Dunkin’ and Krispy Kreme are offering a free donut with purchase at any of their locations. For fans of the former, there’s an Oakland location at 451 Hegenberger Rd. outside Oakland Airport, and another at 1250 Newell Ave. in Walnut Creek. Those who prefer Krispy Kreme will have to trek a bit further to 32450 Dyer St. in Union City or 1991 Diamond Blvd. in Concord.

But with so many excellent East Bay donut shops to choose from, readers will find no shortage of venues to get their frosted, fried, or jelly filled fix to celebrate this most American of holidays.

After a series of phone calls to Rainbow Donuts, King Pin Donuts, Dream Fluff Donuts, Happy Donuts, Golden Gate Donuts, Colonial Donuts, Donut Savant and Donut Farm, Nosh confirmed that while none of these locations are offering special promos for today’s event, all of the above locations will be open. They will just be celebrating National Donut Day the same as they do any other day of the year. Or, said another way, they keep the spirit of National Donut Day all the year round.