Why donut queues are so long

I wonder what’s gotten into Singaporeans. What’s with the crazy donut worshipping?

Someone was telling me she queued for 2 hours. Another someone told me he queued for 4 hours. What the hell? Like, never eat donuts before? Donuts are so great you’re willing to queue for 4 hours to get some?

I like donuts but I’m not a donut maniac like the rest of the 1.5 million Singaporeans in the queues.

But I decided to join a queue the other day. I didn’t want to be the only clueless, donutless person left in Singapore.

I went for Vinco Doughnuts at VivoCity because the queue didn’t look as intimidating as other franchises’ queues.

And NOW, I know the real reason for the ridiculous queues: Inefficient SOP.

My queue was actually only half the size of the one in the picture (it kept growing while I was in the queue) and it still took me half an hour to get my one measly donut despite there being two and a half servers. (One of them was serving on an ad hoc basis, whenever she took time off looking at her clipboard or talking to the chefs.)

Here’s how an average transaction went.

  1. Donut girl asks customer for order.
  2. Customer says he wants two dozen donuts.
  3. Donut girl saunters to the back to fold two pieces of flat cardboard into boxes. (This takes one or two minutes for every single customer.)
  4. Donut girl ambles back to customer with boxes.
  5. Customer starts rattling off the flavours he wants.
  6. Donut girl writes order down on boxes.
  7. Donut girl brings boxes to this multi-storey tray thing stacked from floor to ceiling with donuts.
  8. Donut girl starts picking donuts very slowly, spending up to 10 seconds looking for each donut and putting it in the box.
  9. Donut girl can’t find particular donut.
  10. Donut girl asks colleague (who is busy serving another customer) and they both stop to chat for a while.
  11. Donut girl continues to slowly pick at donuts.
  12. Donut girl strolls back to customer to ask some questions.
  13. Donut girl and customer have a debate on the intricacies of donut flavouring.
  14. Donut girl saunters back to multi-tray and continues picking donuts and filling boxes slowly.
  15. Donut girl finally has 2 boxes filled, after 8 minutes from the time she first served the customer.
  16. Donut girl painstakingly packs the 2 boxes into a large plastic bag, making sure everything is neat and tidy so she can win an award for neatness.
  17. Donut girl takes some time to carefully key the purchase into cash register.
  18. Customer pays for donuts and leaves.
  19. Donut girl moseys back to main counter to serve next customer.
  20. Cycle repeats.

I estimated that each transaction took between 3 and 10 minutes, depending on how many boxes were required, how fussy a customer was, and how much time the donut girl spent chatting with her colleague.

I was the only “idiot” who bought only one donut. Everyone else in the queue before me bought 6, 12 or 24. But even my one donut took two minutes to be served up.

With SOPs like that, it’s no wonder donut queues get that long. Of course, maybe other donut franchises have better reasons for attracting a queue, so if you have other opinions on why donut queues are too long, let’s hear it.

I suspect that maybe the management trains its staff to work very slowly in order to lengthen the queues so that the donut shop can look very, very popular.

And long queues get longer because Singaporeans just can’t resist queues. The longer one is, the more people want in, never mind what the purpose of the queue is.

I didn’t even like my donut. Maybe I ordered the wrong flavour. I had Royal Cheese and it was quite disappointing because it didn’t look like the picture. The cheese tasted like cheapo supermarket singles and the dough was too airy and didn’t taste that great. The cheese didn’t even stick to the donut, so while I was eating it, half the cheese fell into the paper bag.

Dunkin Donuts is much better. I haven’t tried the other franchises available in Singapore but I will, eventually, when the queues stop looking so scary.

36 thoughts on “Why donut queues are so long

  1. Avatar

    It’s like the Hello Kitty queues back in the 90s… inexplicably compelling stuff.

    Better watch out though, some of those HKQs got violent.

  2. Avatar

    I agree, the Singaporean penchant for joining a queue is deeply ingrained. I work in the Raffles Place area and there are always promotions, roadshows and freebie giveaways going on, most of which are pure nonsense. But I too find myself inexplicably drawn to take a look every time. I must confess I once found myself lining up for 15 minutes to photograph a live cow pottering around in front of Stanchart building.

  3. Avatar


    i rather drive down to JB and stuff myself silly with dunkin’ donuts.. heehee..

    but i would queue too if there was a live cow for me to photograph! hahaha

  4. Avatar

    I think it’s a typical Singaporean thing, a ‘monkey see, monkey do’ trend.

    If there’s a long Q, someone will think..” ahh, there must be something damnnn good about this product since the Q is so long.” Then he/she will start to Q for it as well…

    It’s just like…if one day, you stop in the middle of a busy area and started staring and pointing at the sky, i’m sure a small crowd will stop and gather to find out what u’re looking at.

    it works. because i’ve tried it! lols…

  5. Avatar

    talking abt queueing

    i just hate queueing.

    in south africa, to eat a big mac meal takes me almost 40mins with only 3 customer in front and i am the 4th customer.

    to know that i eat my meal less than 15mins.

  6. Avatar

    The only donuts that I’ll queue for is Krispy Kreme. Next time, I fly back to Spore, I’ll get you a dozen. Krispy Kreme is the best and lagi best in HK, no queues! Ya!!!!

  7. Avatar

    Ah ah! That is because you do not appreciate the *true* purpose behind the SOP, which is to ensure the queue always stays long so as to attract herd-behaviour, crowd-following, long-queue-must-be-good-stuff Singaporeans!

    Having said that, if Kripsy Kreme ever comes to Singapore, I’ll definitely join THAT queue. :p

  8. Avatar

    Mince Pye: What did you get beaten up or something in the HKQs?

    Hobbes: Hmm, live cow you say? That’s cute :) I would have queued up for that too. Haha.

    voxy: I think the best thing to do would be laugh… and then join in the next queue.

    Nanny Wen: Have you tried Donut Factory? I heard it’s way better than Dunkin Donuts.

    Missy: Can you do the point to the sky thing again? I wanna watch. :P

    SC: Speaking of HK, I was in HK last year for a few days. It was so hard to find a toilet anywhere! And yeah, when I found a toilet (in Argyle Center) I had to queue more than an hour to use it every time. (I shopped there for 2 days.)

    Cowcow: Actually, I want to see a fight. At least something interesting to watch while being bored in the queue. Haha.

    spellbound: You’re kidding me. Why do they take so long?

    Fish: Yeah, that’s what I’m asking. But I think it’s such a Singaporean thing, it’s quite funny. :P

    vinyarb: Heh, I haven’t seen the queue at city hall. Gotta try to see it for myself soon. :P

    Monster: YES PLEASE! Haha. Everyone’s been raving about Krispy Kreme. I’m dying to try it. lol.

    Gerald: I did “appreciate” it. You never read the second part of my blog lah. :P

  9. Avatar

    That’s lousy service. Period. If the service was that lousy, I wouldn’t support their product, even if I like it.

  10. Avatar

    i tried queue up once at the raffles city donut shop but gave up after 10 mins, the queue not moving at all!!!!!

    dun care now le, even if breadtalk donut, i dun mind, as long as i dun need queue for so bl00dy long..

  11. Avatar

    Ruok: Stop that… you always see your name everywhere. hahaha.

    modchip: Yeah I agree with you. But then sometimes I can’t help it. I’ve eaten at places with lousy service because the food is really too good to miss! lol. Sometimes the enjoyment of the food is worth putting up with the lousy service. :P

    Monster: Wheeee! I can’t wait!!!

    SC: Yeah, Singapore is very sad! Haha. I heard it’s extremely expensive to buy the franchise so maybe that’s why nobody is doing it yet.

    Wang Wang: Heheh. I was trying to persuade Wen yesterday to go for a donut queue outing. We can go queue together and spend the time chatting and bonding. I mean, if we can sit at a cafe to chat for 4 hours, why can’t we also stand in a queue to chat? The most bring some stools to sit on lah. And bring drinks. lol.

  12. Avatar

    I hope you are merely kidding about management training staff to work slower in order to create an illusion of a long queue.

    In a business like this, it is all about turnover. Driving up the volume in order to generate the target revenue.

    The ops manager for this particular outlet is going to be losing his/her job real soon at this rate that they are operating.

  13. Avatar

    JW: Actually, I wasn’t totally kidding. Well, I was half speculating and half being sarcastic. And, you never know, some people have the strangest, most annoying marketing strategies!

  14. Avatar

    eh, if fight, later they take things throw den kena u how?
    even worst, take donut throw den kena u right in the face.
    not very nice, especially if it’s a cheese or strawberry 1…

  15. Avatar

    starmist: Haha. From what I’ve gathered so far, Krispy Kreme seems to be the donut champion!

    Mince Pye: And what were you doing collecting Hello Kittys? :P

  16. Avatar

    later kena face den u know wor. got ants will come…

    starmist> if got krispy kerme, sure queue like siao…
    when that time comes… u want donuts??
    -wink wink- I can queue for u for a price. wahaha.. =D

  17. Avatar

    CrashWire: It was a wise choice, considering the donut sucked.

    cow: Haha… I’ll catch it before it hits my face. Free donut! Whee!

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