STAMFORD, Conn. -- Donut Delight co-owner Peter Athanasiadis has noticed a trend since he and co-owner Harry Seitaridis opened their first doughnut shop in 1991: People are eating fewer doughnuts.
"There are just so many items that have come on," Athanasiadis said, noting that breakfast treat options also include croissants, bagels, cookies, muffins, yogurt and oatmeal. "Also, I think health consciousness also had a little bit of an affect on them. Now they are getting one treat a week instead of eating it every day."
Friday was National Donut Day, an event that began in 1938 by the Salvation Army to remember those who had provided donuts to troops in the First World War. Donut Delight's four Stamford and one Norwalk location took part in the event, offering free doughnuts to their customers.
There is also a demographic trend at work Athanasiadis said, noting many younger customers don't consume as many donuts as older adults.
Three friends sitting outside the coffee shop were a perfect example of that as they cited health concerns for rarely indulging in the sugary treat.
"I love doughnuts but they are too fattening," Laura Martin said, while friends Maria Arambulo and Kaley Walsh sat nearby laughing in agreement. "Too sweet," Walsh added.
None of the 20-year-olds knew it was National Donut Day, but they said they may take advantage of it. Arambulo admitted she had a chocolate frosting doughnut on Thursday.
As a sign of the doughnut's fall from dominance, Athanasiadis said a high percentage of customers, as many as 30 percent, declined to take a free doughnut.
One customer who bucked that trend was Joann Waring, who picked up a free plain cruller "because it's not as messy as the others," she joked. But her friend Marie Sileo skipped the doughnut, instead opting for a bagel.
Drink choices have also impacted doughnut sales: People rarely order a doughnut with an ice coffee or another sugary drink, Athanasiadis said. Doughnuts are more traditionally associated with hot coffee, he said.
Athanasiadis, who said his favorite is the honey dip doughnut, said doughnuts are still popular in a segment of the market: On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, many customers order doughnuts by the dozen in boxes to take to social events.