Megan Baker has decorated a lot of unusual doughnuts. The owner of Thirsty Whale Bakery in north Minneapolis is known for her inventive designs, which are often sought for bachelorette parties and holidays.
But icing the top of an old-fashioned with a gooey green cartoon of a coronavirus? That was new.
“Of all the things I thought I would ever turn into a doughnut,” Baker said, the microscopic cause of a global pandemic wasn’t one of them.
But the virus — which had infected a staff member, closed Baker’s business several weeks over the past few months and put the bakery in a precarious financial position — was exactly the reason Baker created a whimsical six-pack of doughnuts inspired by COVID-19. She had a feeling the COVID Donut Box would sell like hot cakes.
“We are trying to get some funds back into the bank account,” Baker said. “This year has definitely taken its toll.”
In the box are six doughnuts, with designs such as two hands lathering with soap, a bottle of hand sanitizer with clear gel coming out of the pump, and a yellow smiley face whose mouth is covered by a mask. Three are filled, with raspberry, custard and blueberry cheesecake. There is a maple iced raised doughnut, a honey cake doughnut and a lemon poppy old-fashioned. Some iced doughnut holes are in there, too.
The box goes for $30 — pricey by Thirsty Whale’s standards, but after six weekends of closures, the COVID doughnuts are intended to be a fundraiser for the bakery.
“If everything would have been normal this year, we would have been completely out of debt,” Baker said. “This year is not at all what we’d hoped for.”
The bakery closed down for a couple of weeks early in the pandemic. Then when violence broke out nearby after the death of George Floyd in police custody May 25, Thirsty Whale closed again.
“Our doughnuts are made overnight, which was when most of the dangerous stuff was happening,” Baker said. “We didn’t feel it was right to have our guys working.”
Another time, Thirsty Whale closed when the phone lines went down. A few weeks ago, an employee tested positive for COVID-19, and the bakery closed so everyone else could get tested. (Baker managed to pay employees for five of the six closed weekends.)
It’s no surprise, then, that one of the doughnut designs gives 2020 one star out of five.
The doughnuts are available to order through Aug. 12, with pickups through Aug. 16. Order online at thirstywhalebakery.com.
After that, Baker will retire the cartoon coronavirus and switch to back-to-school designs.
“People have been very on edge this year,” she said. “We’re just trying to be the happy people making some happy treats.”
Thirsty Whale Bakery, 4149 Fremont Av. N., Mpls., 612-259-7168
Sharyn Jackson • 612-673-4853 @SharynJackson