Bradley Taylor is pretty certain his doughnut vending machine is Minnesota’s first, and, if it is, he wants to own the second. And the third. So on. So forth.
“My goal is to continue to scale our vending machines and keep putting out sexy product,” the SoCal transplant says. “Also to provide more outlets, jobs, and mentorship for young Black kids.”
Taylor’s first Donut Trap machine debuted Sunday in the hall between St. Paul’s Can Can Wonderland and BlackStack Brewing, though the idea traces back to when a high school friend informed him of the multitudinal delights available from Japanese vending machines.
Logistically, the Donut Trap’s automated outpost proved tricky. The hulking, touch-screen treat beast couldn’t just sit on freezing public sidewalks, so Taylor arrived at the highly trafficked hallway space “on a whim,” noting that sticking close to his Midway community was important. The base model runs around $20,000, he says, though Donut Trap’s machine has been tricked-out specifically to store and sell over-the-top creations like the Old Dirty Bastard (chocolate glaze, Oreo crumbles), the Ferrari Fatboy (coffee-infused glaze, molted chocolate and caramel drizzles) and the OnlyFans Fans (chocolate glaze, mint “tidbits”).
Featuring cake and vegan options, fresh $4 doughnuts will be stocked daily in about six configurations. Unlike other utilizations, the tech wielded by this machine is far from dystopian; Taylor receives real-time updates on freshness levels and inventory.
Freshly graduated from the U of M, Taylor first sold his trademark square doughnuts via pop-up shops inside apartment lobbies and shops around campus. Then called Sssdude-Nutz, the business would exist as a Dinkytown storefront shop for a couple years beginning in 2015 before pivoting to a full-time food truck model. Even for a mobile sweets shop, Taylor says, the pandemic wasn’t easy.
“We were able to focus more on farmers markets since they were considered essential,” he says. “We just put all our effort into that.”
Donut Trap will return to that circuit as things warm up, hitting four to five markets every Saturday with doughnuts and cold-press coffee, Taylor says. After almost a decade of doughnut salesmanship, he still believes his sexy product—no matter how it gets delivered.
“It’s the sexiness that we put into it,” Taylor says. “I approach it by making a good dough that’s airy, tasteful, and has a dope-ass texture. The toppings only make it better.”