BY CJ GIBSON
G Herdt’s Donuts & Shanda’s Sweets recently opened in Hays, providing a range of decadent options to choose from, especially as students start returning to town.
The shop opened July 6 after months of enticing its 2000+ Facebook followers with construction updates.
G Herdt’s is located at 2401 Vine St. The shop shares a building with BrightChoice CBD and has an adjoining parking area. The drive is narrow and a short turn off Vine St, so be prepared for a bit of a squeeze while keeping a close watch on customers exiting the store.
The interior alone provides its own sort of eye candy: the counters have a donut pattern reminiscent of sprinkled donuts and the furniture is brightly colored.
The confectionery serves a range of notable treats like rolled ice cream, edible cookie dough, and protein shakes.
But G Herdt’s Donuts’ main attraction, as its name suggests, is its donuts.
The style of donuts at G Herdt’s is different than most donut shops; G Herdt’s only serves cake-style donuts, which are smaller and more dense than the common yeast donut.
While limited by only serving cake donuts, G Herdt’s sprinkles its menu with a range of “gourmet” donut flavors.
In my visit, I ordered the strawberry, Snickers, PB&J, maple and the peanut butter cup.
Strawberry: While the G Herdt’s cake donuts take some flak for their size, the cake-style works better with this donut, as the strawberries and the whipped frosting were less sweet toppings than most, creating a strawberry-shortcake-esque donut that tastes good without depending on a glaze. If G Herdt’s changes up its base donut recipe, I could see this still working with a yeast donut, though it would be more like a kolach and wouldn’t have this unique balance.
Snickers: Putting the Snickers in the middle gives this donut a pleasing look, but I think the overall taste could be improved by breaking apart the bar over the whole surface. Of course, even these small donuts took me a few bites; for those who consume the treat in one mouthful, this would make no difference. Regardless, the whole donut tastes great and complements the candy bar well.
PB&J: G Herdt’s offers apple or grape jam renditions of this treat, and I went with the apple. This is another flavor that I don’t think would work well as a yeast donut, simply because the peanut butter is too strong for a fluffier base; the cake donut balances well with it. And the apple jam spiced the flavor up enough that it didn’t bring back bad memories of my many days of peanut butter & jelly sandwiches growing up.
Maple: This was my grandmother’s favorite. Maple is a classic and will remain on its throne as a simple and flawless frosting on whatever kind of donut it graces. Maybe in the future, G Herdt’s will add long johns to its menu, as this flavor deserves a lot of doughy real estate.
Peanut Butter Cup: This was my favorite. Surprisingly, the peanut butter taste was even stronger than in the PB&J, but as someone who eats peanut butter straight out of the jar with a spoon, I think that makes it even better. Even if I didn’t like it, I would pick it again because it just looks delicious with its chocolate drizzle and peanut butter chips. A chocolate + peanut butter combo rarely goes wrong.
Sour Patch Kids: While I didn’t try this flavor myself, my brother likened the taste to that of steak sauce and ice cream: two good flavors that should not go together.
As a hole, I do think that G Herdt’s has a lot to offer beyond donuts and can county on more than just their tasty cake-style treats. While its donuts are delicious, G Herdt’s isn’t your typical donut shop.
I do worry that the “cheap college student” crowd may get more dough for their dough at other locations like gas stations and supermarkets due to G Herdt’s selling its fancier donuts for just shy of $2. The quality is definitely better at G Herdt’s, but I fear that the cost will shy away customers once the initial hype dies down.
To combat this, G Herdt’s selling point shouldn’t just be their donuts. They offer some treats that few other places in Hays can boast, such as protein shakes, edible cookie dough, and rolled ice cream.
As a vegetarian in cattle country, I’m always looking for high-protein options, so the protein shakes are what attracted me to G Herdt’s. Protein shakes are usually touch and go, but I tried the G Herdt’s Vanilla Gorilla protein shake and loved it. There are several places around town to buy alcoholic and/or caffeinated drinks, but far fewer places to snag a tasty protein shake.
Hays also lacks ice cream places. It has a few options like Dairy Queen, Freddy’s, and Sonic, but the area could use a unique ice cream place closer to campus. And with its rolled ice cream, G Herdt’s has the potential to attract a regular crowd of young ice cream enthusiasts.
Overall, the visual appeal of G Herdt’s makes it worth at least one stop for those who have the cash to spare. For a couple dozen donuts for a work party, Daylight Donuts is still the way to go. But for a sweet experience? G Herdt’s might be worth a try.