Four Bethel seniors take doughnut orders for one final year at Bethel University, delivering copious amounts of Krispy Kreme to peers.
By Anna Pearson
Teressa Swanson and Aidan St. George were up at 3:30 a.m. the morning of Dec. 10, ensuring they had enough time to fit in the nearly four-hour drive to the nearest Krispy Kreme. Swanson and St. George make up half of the BU Doughnut Boyz, a business dedicated to bringing Krispy Kreme doughnuts to the taste buds of Bethel.
Along with Trent Kopp and Aaron Hjort, the four BU Doughnut Boyz have been taking turns making the trip in pairs to various Krispy Kreme locations since October 2020, their sophomore year.
“I like seeing people’s faces light up when we tell them what we do, because people think it’s really funny and a fun thing that we just drive hours away to bring doughnuts back for them,” Swanson said.
Their story was inspired by another locally known “Doughnut Guy” who resold Krispy Kreme doughnut boxes for $20 each. Kopp, who grew up surrounded by Krispy Kremes in Washington, wanted to bring the glazed goodness to Bethel for half the price.
With Swanson creating the @bu.doughnut.boyz Instagram account as the stand-alone social media manager, the team expanded marketing to giveaways, selecting two winners of a free box per trip.
“Every single time, it’s very different,” Hjort said. “We never know what we’re going to get.”
These problems of uncertainty are often met with difficult decisions, such as taking a trip to the Milawukee, Wisconsin location one trip because the Iowa stores were unable to complete the large orders.
For their Dec. 2022 run, the uncertainty lies in the biggest time crunch the team has faced: Swanson’s brother getting married. Doughnut runs cannot be delayed, especially for a wedding at 2 p.m. the same day.
The day started before sunrise with a screeching iPhone alarm.
December 10, 2022 – 4:13 a.m.
A dark gray Honda Accord rolls past the Bethel security hut at the main campus entrance with St. George and Swanson in the front seats, awake amid a silent, sleeping student population. The iPhone propped up in the middle console reads 3 hours and 53 minutes left until they will arrive at doughnut heaven – better known as the Clive, Iowa location of Krispy Kreme.
Swanson cracks a sleep-deprived joke about getting into an accident and making headlines that read, “Car full of Krispy Kreme doughnuts spills out onto the highway.” For a 4 a.m. drive, the slow Christmas tunes that the stereo hums are too slow and sleepy. St. George settles on “Cigarette Daydreams” by Cage the Elephant for an upbeat vibe.
At 4:42 a.m., rain starts to mist around the car as conversation turns to the latest ring by spring couple, the upcoming Bethel Christmas Gala and summer 2023 weddings. As conversations pass, so do the occasional semitruck and car, headed 213 miles down Highway 235 West.
Swanson screams, confusing St. George, and points out the window toward large, industrial buildings – the Owatonna Energy Station. The sky glows bright orange, but sunrise isn’t supposed to happen until much later. That is not the sun. Swanson snaps some photos on her phone of the worst light pollution she has ever seen.
The sky goes dark once again, and the music switches to upbeat worship and old Dayglow. Conversation dies down again as “Green Sea” by Kindre settles in the air, only interrupted by the occasional, “This song is really good.”
Swanson sneezes as the caravan enters Iowa. The curated playlist to keep the party awake pauses momentarily as Swanson attempts to open her phone camera and catch a video of the “Welcome to Iowa” sign, but narrowly misses the prime opportunity for social media content.
An hour later, Swanson dozes off in the passenger seat passing through Alexander, Iowa after getting two hours of sleep the previous night. Although she had an early wake-up time, her tickets to “Les Misérables” at the Orpheum the night before told her she was getting no sleep.
“Space Song” by Beach House starts as Swanson turns over in her sleep to lean on the middle console of the car. Wipers ease away mist on the windshield as the sky slowly turns on for the day, a navy blue hue peeking out from the continuous black night and quickly dissolving to a gray-blue, bright enough to see outside.
St. George navigates to the Camp Dodge exit and pulls to the first stoplight in over three hours next to a Pizza Ranch on Plum Street. The Doughnut Boyz are nine minutes away from picking up the imported goods to transport back to Minnesota.
At 7:53 a.m., the Accord makes it to the Clive Krispy Kreme parking lot, sandwiched between a Jiffy Lube and Freedom Blend Coffee, seven minutes ahead of the scheduled 8 a.m. pick-up time.
A “HOT DOUGHNUTS NOW” sign glares above the doughnut kitchen, giving a Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory-esque feel with an assembly line of glaze being poured over fresh doughnuts on a conveyor belt.
Susan, as her name tag reads, rings up the stacks of boxes waiting for the Doughnut Boyz behind her as order number 12 of the day. The total: $682.49.
The Doughnut Boyz will not make any profit off this run, but they say the gas money is worth it. St. George double-checks on his phone that he has transferred the money onto his card before inserting it, and the transaction is complete.
Swanson orders a coffee and Susan helps to carry the doughnuts out to the car, stacking the bags horizontally so all of them fit into the trunk.
The Doughnut Boyz pull out of the Krispy Kreme parking lot with 3 hours and 45 minutes on the road back to Bethel, Swanson and St. George each snacking on a doughnut from their own orders.
An eerie SoundCloud rendition of “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime” by Mac Demarco plays at Swanson’s insistence as St. George pulls into a Git & Go to get gas for $2.64 a gallon.
At 8:40 a.m., the road trip back to Minnesota begins as the car pulls onto I-35 North.
“Man, Iowa sucks,” Swanson jokes.
“Yeah, let’s get out of here,” St. George replies.
A sequence of parody Christmas songs carries the mood as they pass the border back to Minnesota, where it starts snowing with less than an hour left in the trip.
The Doughnut Boyz are home once again as they exit onto County Road E2 West to Arden Hills, not expecting to be back this early but grateful to be at Bethel.
“You know, we could’ve left at five,” St. George says. “Or four thirty.”
“Well, I would’ve had 10 minutes to turn around and go to my house,” Swanson replies.
They unload 50 boxes – 600 doughnuts – into Arden Village East shack, Swanson posting a message to the Instagram account to notify followers to pick up their orders.
The first customer arrives to pick up her doughnut order. A fellow Arden Village resident passes through to do laundry, but stops to admire the stacks of doughnuts displayed on the coffee table.
“Woah . . . those are all doughnuts?”
Grant Graber picks up his order donning a Krispy Kreme T-shirt, and Swanson posts a picture of him on the Doughnut Boyz Instagram story. Another satisfied customer.
As half of the Doughnut Boyz prepare to graduate from Bethel in the spring, their Doordash-like Krispy Kreme service will likely end with their absence.
“We want to thank everybody for ordering doughnuts. If you’ve ever ordered doughnuts from us, we love you,” Swanson said.
This spring will be the last time the BU Doughnut Boyz band together to deliver Krispy Kreme to Bethel – “just a couple of college students” picking up 50 orders.
“I think it’s just fun to go to Krispy Kreme,” St. George said during their December run. “It’s been probably over a year since we did our last run, and I kept hearing people say, ‘When’s the next run?’ So we should do another one.”
The BU Doughnut Boyz have plans to complete one last run in April 2023.
The peoples’ champions!