From Google: "Why are we doing this? Lots of our users go to the New Tab Page, navigate to a search engine, and then type in the search. We wanted to take a step out of the process."
What idiocy. Someone should tell them (Google and those users) about the omnibar.
Anyway, I figured out how to get rid of the Google Doodle garbage.
1. Go to chrome://flags
Enable Instant Extended API Mac, Windows, Chrome OS
Enables the Instant Extended API which provides a deeper integration with your default search provider, including a renovated New Tab Page, extracting search query terms in the omnibox, a spruced-up omnibox dropdown and Instant previews of search results as you type in the omnibox.
3. Set it to 'Disabled'.
You'll sacrifice the other minor features (stuff I know I'll never miss) that came in alongside the updated Recently Viewed page, but in my opinion it's a small price to pay to not be punished because some blinkered Chrome users can't figure out how to use the frigging omnibar.