Posts Tagged ‘reinventing the wheel’

Tom Thumb Donut Machine, MN State Fair, St. Paul, Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2009 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


No one leaves the Minnesota State Fair without a bag of Tom Thumb Donuts. I’ve gone a whole day, been dead on my feet, and made the trek back to the Tom Thumb stand to grab a 500 calorie bag of melt-in-your-mouth mini-donuts to eat on the long walk to the car.

I’m also mesmerized by the mini-donut making machine. It was invented in 1947 at the Ryan Aeronautical Company in California by a group of engineers who were sitting idle after the war. That year, they started greasing the wheel and each machine splashes out 90 deep-fried donuts per minute.

Tom Thumb Donuts was established a few years later in 1949. Do you know how Tom Thumb Donuts made it to the Minnesota State Fair?

According to a Chippewa Herald article by writer Tom Arneberg, John Desmond and his wife Janet brought Tom Thumb Donuts to the Minnesota State Fair in 1952. Then two boys in Desmond’s Minneapolis neighborhood, Ted Boecher and John Hanson, grew up working at the stand and took it over after John Desmond’s death.

Sadly, a few years later, Hanson died of a heart attack right in the main Tom Thumb booth next to Ye Olde Mill, leaving Ted Boecher to manage the stand.

Through 6 degrees of separation (and the framing of a Tom Thumb Donut bag kept in his kitchen), Tom Arneberg met manager Ted Boecher and he and his family were given a personal guided tour through the whole mini-donut making operation. Arneberg, a community columnist for the Chippewa Herald, wrote a piece in which he describes the whole experience, including his love for the Minnesota State Fair.

I found Arneberg’s column when researching the history of Tom Thumb Donuts to go with these photographs. You’ve got to read it to find out his personal best for bags of Tom Thumb Donuts eaten in one trip to the Minnesota State Fair!

What’s your personal best for your favorite State Fair food?

To jog your memory, this year’s whole list of Minnesota State Fair foods on-a-stick and a link to the FoodFinder (along with past State Fair posts) can be found at our annual red Ravine State Fair post MN State Fair On-A-Stick (Princesses & Butter Queens). We’ll be at the Fair this Friday. Maybe we’ll see you there!



Don’t Bite The Hand That Feeds You, Tom Thumb –
Light As A Feather
, MN State Fair, St. Paul,
Minnesota, August 2008, all photos © 2008-2009
by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

-posted on red Ravine, Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

-related to post: WRITING TOPIC – BAND-AIDS® & OTHER 1920’s INVENTIONS, the velveeta cheese of donuts haiku, Two Degrees Of Celebrity Sighting

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By Marylin

Chrome Hubcaps, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Chrome Hubcaps, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am baffled by most of the high-tech inventions that have come into our lives in recent years, so I am going to express my appreciation for one that is really low-tech. How low? Well, how about wheels? Not just any wheels. I’m talking about the ones that have made my traveling life so much easier and better! I have been an enthusiastic traveler for many years, and being a woman only five-feet tall, with mighty muscles-of-mush, the lugging of luggage has always been a challenge.

My first set of wheels was on a metal cart, in the mid-1970’s. I had observed airline attendants using these and thought they would be great; and they were. It just took time to get my bags strapped on, and a few times the bungee cord wasn’t fastened in quite the right strategic position, and my belongings gradually looked like they were about to drop off, each going its own separate way! But my skill at hooking boxes and bags on the cart improved, and I was even able to keep apace with the British Railroad cars, which only allowed ninety seconds at each stop, for disembarking!

The first wheels I saw actually attached to luggage were on bags belonging to a group of Japanese tourists. I’m sure I turned a lovely shade of jealous green, with eyes glazed over. I had to have a wheeled bag! The first one that came into our local stores only had two wheels on one end, with a strap at the other. I didn’t linger to try it out; I just handed over my money, and could hardly wait to use it.

While it did save time and I didn’t have to bother with the cart, it wasn’t entirely satisfactory. As I mentioned, I am “vertically challenged,” which meant I had to lift my end of the bag by its strap. This proved to be worthy of being an Olympic event which, unfortunately, I had not trained for and so was very tiring.

There had to be a better way. There was, or so I thought when I spied a different version. Yes, it still had a strap but it came with four wheels, one on each corner — a proper set-up for wheels, right? After all, this is where cars, trucks and buses have their wheels; it can’t miss! It rolled along behind me, smoothly, about 90% of the time. Unfortunately, the remaining 10%, it fell onto its side as if it had lost its balance. This happened at very inopportune times, usually while I was entering or leaving crowded elevators in posh hotels. The cause had to be something about going over uneven surfaces (like doorways) that made it behave like a falling-down drunk!

Two decades have passed since my quest for the perfect luggage began, and I am finally satisfied. Again, in observing flight attendants I decided to purchase the same kind of luggage they were now using — a bag with two wheels on the bottom and a rigid, collapsible double bar on top. I can pull it, push it, turn it any way I want; it follows without falling or even faltering! I love it!

In my opinion, frequent flyers should be rewarded for time spent in the airport, as well as in the air. In the meantime, I am just happy that someone thought of the “moving sidewalk,” enabling one to either rest a bit or make “double time” when racing to catch a plane. That telescoping walk-way that we now use to board the plane can only be truly appreciated by those of us who used to sprint out on the tarmac to the plane and up the stairs during a blizzard, with a wind-chill factor of minus 60 degrees!

Ah, so many inventions connected to travel to be grateful for, but luggage with wheels is still my favorite!

    Free Wheelin, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Lock & Key, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Texture, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Marylin (aka oliverowl) is a freelance writer living in Wyoming. She has written essays for a weekly column in the Ventura Star Tribune and collaborated on two picture books for children with her grandson. She currently writes with the Cody Writers. This is her second piece for red Ravine. You can read more from Marylin in her post, Kindness.

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