There are a lot of donut companies in Massachusetts, but there's only one Mass Hole Donuts, and it was co-founded by Jamaica Plain's own Alex Mansfield. He answered questions from Jamaica Plain News about being a masshole, the company's surly bear logo, why you can put bacon on donuts and more.
Q: You're the co-founder of Mass Hole Donuts. Who is/are the other co-founder(s) and when was the business founded?
Mansfield: The other co-founder is Peter Gladstone, who is currently the Assistant Director of Consumer Goods & Services at the Harvard Innovation Lab, and previously served as the head of Advertising & Innovation for Sam Adams. Peter had the idea for Mass Hole Donuts after purchasing a dozen donuts from a trendy bakery, and later regretting that he and his wife couldn't finish the box. He thought that if he opened a shop that served just donut holes, people could try even more flavors and not feel trapped by the size of the donut. He thought of the perfect name, but didn't know any bakers at the time. I was introduced to Peter through a mutual friend, and I loved the idea. I love donuts, have been working as a baker for about five years, and had been interested in starting my own business. We have been working on our recipes since late summer 2017, and had our first pop-up this past December.
Q: So why is it called Mass Hole Donuts?
Mansfield: The donuts are a tribute to Massachusetts, and Boston. Our flavors will often pay homage to Massachusetts people, places, and recipes, as well as feature ingredients sourced from local businesses.
Q: Are you a Masshole? i.e. an asshole from Massachusetts
Mansfield: Yeah, sure. I was born and raised in the Commonwealth, so I'd be in denial if I said I didn't have some Masshole tendencies. I think of it as a term of pride, however, and I like to think I use my Masshole powers for good rather than evil.
Q: Do you think someone's Masshole tendencies can be reduced by eating delicious donuts?
Mansfield: It's 100% been proven, and anyone who tries our donuts will be transformed into another Happy Mass Hole.
Q: Where do you make Mass Hole Donuts?
Mansfield: We make them at Local Fare, a commercial kitchen in Arlington where local food businesses rent out space by the hour. Recipe development happens at my home in JP.
Q: Where are Mass Hole Donuts sold? How much do they cost?
Mansfield: They are available at our pop-ups, which are held at our shared kitchen in Arlington (Local Fare) and local breweries/distillers. They are 3/$5, 6/$9, and 12/$16. We are planning on offering catering and donut hole cakes for events in the near future.
Q: Your website lists six different donuts. How did you decide which donuts to make?
Mansfield: We are always experimenting and offering new flavors and specials. They can be inspired by many things -- a classic donut we want to feature, a special ingredient, or cultural events. Our basic philosophy is to make them all unique from each other, and as delicious as possible.
Q: Do you have a favorite donut of the ones you make?
Mansfield: I love all my donut children equally. Right now I'm pretty excited about our Drunken Mass Holes, which feature booze from local breweries and distilleries. At our pop-up at Bully Boy on February 3rd, we are serving an old fashioned donut with old fashioned cocktail glaze, candied orange, and whiskey ganache. We are also working on a Super-Hole for Superbowl Sunday, which features GOAT-cheese caramel in honor of the Greatest Of All Time Tom Brady & Patriots. That will be available at Bully Boy and also as a part of special orders for Superbowl Sunday (see our website or instagram for details).
Q: You make a Bacon Cornbread donut -- when did bacon become such a trendy ingredient for donuts?
Mansfield: Donuts make people happy, and so does bacon. I think it's natural to put those two things together. There has also been a bit of a "donut awakening" in the past five years, whereas a society we now recognize that it's become acceptable to put pretty much anything that tastes good on top of a donut.
Q: You've got a pretty awesome logo -- it looks like a surly black bear. How'd you come up with that logo?
Mansfield: The Mass Hole bear is the spirit animal of Mass Holes everywhere. The bear is surly, easily angered, but also appreciates the sweetness in life (donuts in this case).
Q: What else would you like to say about Mass Hole Donuts?
Mansfield: If you want to see our upcoming events, follow us on Instagram and Facebook! Our next pop-up will be at Bully Boy Distillers, and we have other events in the works in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, including an event for my fellow JP residents at Turtle Swamp Brewing!