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donut mania

One of the side effects of the economic downturn has been some great sales.  Over the weekend, I found an automatic donut maker on sale at a deep discount.  This fulfilled a lifelong dream.  I had long considered larger units, such as the Donut Robot, but I thought them impractical.  Not only are they expensive, but they are hard to clean and generally require a professional kitchen.  This unit is designed for home use and promised to have tractable maintenance, although donut-making and messes go together like donuts and chocolate icing.

The unit presents itself as a donut maker.  At one point in the manual it refers to mini-donuts.  Micro-mini-donuts would be more accurate.  They're about an inch and a half in diameter with a little tiny hole in the middle.  But they taste great when they come fresh out of the machine.  Plus the process is fascinating to watch in a Homer-esque way.  The machine squeezes out a round halo of dough which it lets sit in oil.  It then very carefully flips it over and lets it float down the river of oil until it reaches a platform that gently lifts the donut  and deposits it in a tray.

Throughput is a problem.  We only get about 2 donuts per minute at the moment.  Given the tiny size of the donuts, that's a long wait for a meal.  This dough may have been too thick, resulting in overly small donuts.  The fundamental throughput problem, though, needs to be solved by parallelism.  We hope to build a multiprocessor with several donut machines that can produce the volume of donuts required to keep crowds of students happy.


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