ST PAUL, Minnesota — What's better than donuts? A donut vending machine.
Sunday was the soft launch of The Donut Trap's donut vending machine — located in the hallway between BlackStack Brewing and Can Can Wonderland in the Prior Works building in St. Paul's Midway neighborhood.
"It's super fun," said Bradley Taylor of The Donut Trap. "Sometimes I'll just sit here and just watch people interact with the machine."
Taylor has been baking donuts for nearly a decade.
"I got into baking really out of selfishness. When I moved here from California I didn't have any donuts, like access to any donuts, that I liked so I just started making my own," Taylor said.
Taylor moved to Minnesota to attend the University of Minnesota.
In 2013, he and his wife, Ashley, opened a donut shop in Dinkytown called Sssdude-Nutz. A few years later they transitioned to a food truck, selling their signature square donuts at farmers markets in the Twin Cities.
Taylor's latest idea is one he's held onto since his teens. After a friend came back from visiting Japan, he told Taylor about all the things you could buy out of a vending machine. Taylor had a t-shirt line at the time and thought it would be a good way to sell them.
"That kind of just always stuck in my head," he said.
The Donut Trap debuted its vending machine on Sunday. It can hold about 100 donuts and features about five to six flavors during the week with more varieties on the weekend.
They're known for their creative names and square donuts.
"We also make some of the best vegan donuts ever. That's facts," Taylor said.
But Taylor said placing a donut vending machine in Minnesota had its challenges, like dealing with the winter weather. Then he found the hallway in the Prior Works building.
"Something like this, where it's a community of businesses that all draw different types of people, while also maintaining a level of commonality with our brand, was just perfect," Taylor said.
Taylor found The Donut Trap's vending machine in California. It features an elevator so the donuts do not drop on the way down, maintaining their shape.
The vending machine gives Taylor real-time updates on everything from freshness to stock levels.
"All that stuff just has to be on point. So many little things could go wrong... just crazy little things. So I've literally been sleeping in this hallway for the past three days," Taylor said.
The shelf life for their cake donuts is two days tops which makes it ideal for stocking in the machine during the week. Their square donuts have a shelf life of about 6-7 hours, so those will typically appear on the weekends when traffic through the area is higher.
"It's a blessing really. I think everyone has dreams and aspirations but being able to really live through those is really fulfilling," Taylor said. "I never would've thought this little one-off idea I had of just doing like a donut and making it square would lead to this."
You can find The Donut Trap's vending machine at 755 Prior Avenue N. in St. Paul. Enter at Can Can Wonderland's red door next to BlackStack Brewing.
Donuts are $4.
Know a local business we should feature for our Behind the Business segment? Email Heidi Wigdahl at firstname.lastname@example.org.