How high can deep-fried dough go?
Employees at Bowman’s Market in Kaysville will find out Friday when they use a weather balloon to raise a traditional glazed doughnut into the atmosphere for National Doughnut Day.
Baker Noah Wenzel has been leading this (almost) space odyssey after hearing of a similar project in Europe. He also thought the store, known for the light, fluffy treats, deserved an equal shot at stardom.
Doughnut lovers have been known to travel to infinity and beyond to score a doughnut from this family-owned grocery store in central Davis County, said store manager Dave Cook, whose great-grandfather founded Bowman’s Market in 1913.
He said the secret is a special recipe using potato flour and dedicated employees. “Our team comes in at 10 p.m and works all night long,” he said, “so the doughnut case is full when we open.”
Bowman’s bakery sells 6,000 to 12,000 doughnuts a day. On Halloween, that number jumps to 18,000, and it’s not unusual to sell out.
The number will be that high on National Doughnut Day — which is celebrated each year on the first Friday in June. The annual event was established in 1938 to honor the women, called Donut Girls or Lassies, who were hired by the Salvation Army to serve the treats to soldiers during World War I.
Friday will be one of the busiest days of the year for bakeries, and many large chains — including Walmart and Dunkin’ Donuts — will be giving away deep-fried dough while supplies last.
Bowman’s doughnut launch is a way to generate excitement in the community and stand out from those national companies. Cook said the store has been sponsoring contests to name the space doughnut and to guess where it might land.
He expects a good crowd at the launch, which will take place at 10 a.m. — weather permitting — in the store parking lot at 326 N. Main. A GPS in the payload will allow fans to track the doughnut’s path on the store website at https://www.bowmansmarket.com or on its Facebook page.
A native of Fruit Heights, who now lives in Ogden, Wenzel has always had his head in the clouds.
“I’m really interested in space," he said, “and I have been my whole life.”
He has spent several weeks developing the “spacecraft” that will lift the pastry as high into the atmosphere as possible, while also keeping it protected on its return flight.
The contraption includes one Styrofoam cooler, two GPS devices and three cameras that will track the precious golden payload — possibly the only welcome “hole” in the ozone — as it travels.
A Plexiglas arm protrudes from the craft and holds the doughnut in place.
It will be lifted into the air via a helium weather balloon, explained Wenzel. When the balloon reaches its peak height — about 20 miles up (technically not space but plenty lofty) — the air pressure will change and the balloon ultimately will burst. That’s when a parachute made out of lightweight nylon by Wenzel’s wife, Alexis, will take over and help the craft float gently to earth.
Wenzel did a test run last week and estimates the doughnut went up almost 19 miles. He initially had calculated it would land near Elko, Nev. Instead, it landed in the Great Salt Lake. Fortunately, the onboard tracker worked, and he was able to retrieve it.
Since then, Wenzel has been making adjustments before all systems are a go. “I’m trying to make it a little lighter, so it will raise higher and go slower" on its descent.
Wenzel has been getting ready for blastoff while still completing his day shift in the bakery.
“When you have an employee that is excited about something,” Cook said, “you want to support them.”
The sky really is the limit.