Saturday, May 7, 2011

Donut Boy - A Mothers Day Tribute

One thing that we all have in common.

One thing that is unavoidable.

Every one of us that has entered into this world has had to do so through the gift of our mothers endurance of pain.

For the mother, the pain starts during the birthing process, and doesn't subside until she sheds her mortal coil.

Some of us love our mothers.

Some of us don't.

But one thing that is certain, until dysfuntion, neurosis or greed has time to get traction on the events of our lives.....

Everybody has a desire to make their mother proud.

Movies, poems and literature have often influenced cultures from the antiquity period to the modern day regaurding this.

Public opinion concurs that obtaining certain jobs will help improve their mothers opinion of them, and if our career path is noble and profitable, who knows, maybe our mothers love for us will grow exponentially.

Woe unto you ditch digger,janitor, or gas station attendant.How could your mother belive that her toil was a justified by your lack of accomplishment?

On the day when we honor the vessel that brought us into this world. It may be too late for you to pay tribute.

What good is to to place gold on your mothers neck, or wrist, when you've already broke her heart?

As a young man, my family was excited when I chose a path into the world of baking. to be honest. I think they were just glad I chose a path.

My career started strong, I was given position and power beyond my education and skill set, but I worked hard at it and eventually everything came into line.

Just at the point, where maybe for the first time in my life, that I'd given people a tangible reason to be proud of me, I tossed it away.

I left my lofty position in the whole sale baking world, to investigate the world of retail baking.

In the 1980's you had 2 types of retail concepts.

#1 - The Independant / Ma-Pa Bake Shop on the corner

#2 - The Grocery Store

I opted to embrace the latter, and I was willing to work my way up from the bottom.

If God and Satan both hate you, I'd be willing to bet that they would network with their connections to make you a donut fryer.

This is what I did.

The life of the donut fryer has seldom been documented because it is filled with shame. The people who have endured this torture simply don't want you to even get a whiff of the indignities that they have suffered.


First off, people don't want to eat old donuts that have had time to let the grease set up, they want their treat to still have some warmth on it. So if your spending demographic is gonna start crawling across your retails frontroom floor at 6 a.m.

Donut World starts sharp.....@ 3 a.m.

Donut Boy is the first person to show up at a bakery in the morning, and you'll note I didn't refer to him as a baker,why?

Because bakers don't.

Crews pay as much attention to the Donut Boy as Roman Centurions paid to the guy with the most open sores at a leper colony.

After punching in, usually a guy named Bert would pull you aside and do his best to teach you an exact science in a 6 minute tutorial. It sounded something like this.

"OK, whats your name? Oh - nevermind, it doesn't matter. Heres a list of the donuts you'll be making for tomorrow."

Then he'd pull some laminated peice of people out from under a work bench and then he'll use a dough scraper to pull back the film that had encompassed it.





Now these are basically just your standard fare. Every day also offered the customers other unique options as well. These more obscure items would be listed on various sheets of discolored paper found in various parts of the shop.

So by this time, Bert had his own work to do, so off to work you went.

Yeast raised donuts always take the longest since they have to proof, so Donut Boy would have to mix donut doughs on the Hobart, fold them into bundles,give them rest time, pin them out, cut them to shape, use a docker (which is basically a rolling pin with spikes) to release the gas, place them on screens, and then let them proof.

After placing the donut rack in the proof box, Donut Boy then has to bust tail and start mixing glazes, tempering chocolates, greasing fritter pans, filling the bizmark filling dispencers, create topical sprinkle color combinations.....etc -etc.

Did you ever wonder how that custard got inside your Honeymooner?

Trust me, there are no cute little elves involved. Each piece has to be picked up, and have a shaft inserted into the side. when this happens, Donut Boy will proceed to pump in the filling.

If he doesn't pump hard enough, you can bet a dollar to a monkey that the blue hairs will bi*** to your bakery manager to withdraw all the future business under the ground of receaving fraudulent breakfast items.

If you pump to hard, the filling will burst through the donuts crumb wall and you'll have to toss it.

To choreograph this successfully is a mere feat. It's level of precision is comparable to an epic performance by the Royal Ballet.

Now the Donut Boy will grab a pair of wooden implements that look like drum sticks and step towards the abyss.

If you have never seen a donut fryer, imagine filling your bathtub with boiling grease and then hoisting it just a bit.

Overhead is a hood which is used to direct the grease demons out of the building, via an exhaust system that typically had enough P.S.I. to launch a cow from Milwaukee to Saigon.

Once that fan has been turned on, your life will become absent of noise, because of the noise.

The other part of this that is interesting is that Donut Boy will typically spend 5-6 hours where his face is in the middle of this jet stream.

I'll bet the grease remnants from the fryer (during just one shift alone) would be the equivalent of smoking 3 packs of cigs a day), but still....that's not even the worst of it.

With each donut submerged, there comes a shifting and splashing of grease. It simply doesnt matter how precise or coordinated the Donut Boy is, several thing can't be escaped.

For starters, throughout each shift even the most proficient bearer of the wooden drum sticks is going to suffer 2 to 3 burns that will hurt so bad that you can't even find swear words that will suffice.

If you experienced just one of these injurys in your home kitchen, trust'd shut down the shop, cancel the project, and spend the remainder of the day searching for the proper burn creams and ointments.

But Donut Boy doesn't have times to bleed-scream or cry, theres 1000 pieces of breakfast, all marching through the proof box in unison. If the first wave trips or stumbles.....

Boom! the rest will fall in succesion

But the worst thing, the thought that haunts me decades later was the "Grease Mask!"

Thats right, over the course of a shift, you might actually fry over a hundred loads for sure, and on holidays, these numbers are certain to double.

Throughout this entire process that exhaust vacuum pulls that grease residue skyword, but before it heads out of the production space, I think it likes to get a good push off the Donut Boy to remind him of what a loser he is lol.

I remember when my shift was over, I felt as if I survied a day at the Circus in the company of gladiators.

Sure, you do the face scrub thing at the sink provided in your work station, but when you went home, you'd have to set your shower to scalding.

Your naked body would slump directly under the shower nozzle, but for over 5 minutes you wouldn't feel the heat attached to the water. I'm not being felicitous.

The water would have to "chip away" at your grease mask. Often times it would take well over 1/2 hour to get somewhat clean.

OK, I realize I didn't talk about cake donuts, or the horrors of doing donut holes. Can you imaging trying to pull them out of a fryer one at a time?

I'd rather chew razors!

But I guess the purpose of todays installment was to remind myself of this decision I made in my life to leave the lap of luxery to endure a savage life style.

There was no refuting the fact that I messed up, for awhile I tried to justify the switch as a lateral move. It wasn't.

So it's Mothers day, and we were sitting around my mothers apartment, and people were asking me about my newest vocational chapter and I was kinda hedging.

I was still young enough at this point where I could have bailed on baking, and it wouldn't have shocked anybody, or been considered that big of a deal.

When people passed one another on the streets and stopped to gossip, they might simply say something like....

"Yeah,Klecko isn't baking anymore, he decided it wasn't for him, you know he's not the worlds worst kid, but.........."

and I'll let you fill in the rest, but my Mother was paying attention to how I dodged some of the questions and dared to do the unthinkable.

She was going to give me advice.

Now before I tell you what she said, I want you to seriously consider that. A mother giving unsolisited advice to a 22-23ish year old son.

As much as young men love their mothers, do you think I was going to put a shred a creedence into her thoughts?

Of course not, she was a middle aged woman who was not only "out of touch", but as you can imagine.....she didn't understand my personal circumstances.

So now my mom lights up her Merit, pulls a long draw and then shares some of her thoughts while exhaling....

"Don't be a Dumb A**, go back to SuperMoms and admit that you were wrong to leave."

You know,that was an option that i wouldn't of dared to think of, and if I did, it would of been attached to failure in my minds eye, but when my Mother vied for this, it just appeared to be the logical option.

I acted upon her wisdom the following day. They were glad to give me a position, and you know, had my mother not have interviened in my life...I might be your states senator.

But then she might not of been as proud of me, after all.......

Her son was the Donut Boy.

Happy Mothers Day


  1. I hear the tune, "I Pity the Poor Donut Boy" .... that is one woebegone job description