Record attempt prompts fritter jitters

Back Door Donuts takes a shot at setting a Guinness world record.


Setting or breaking a world record is a dream for many people. Sometimes it’s building the largest Lego brick flag, holding the largest tea party, or breaking the record for most robots dancing simultaneously. For Martha’s Vineyard Gourmet Cafe & Bakery, a.k.a. Back Door Donuts, in Oak Bluffs, their dream was to make the world’s largest apple fritter.

The bakery held the event Sunday in its back parking lot, where it regularly sells doughnuts till late at night.

The fritter’s creation began with an idea; manager Josh Biren thought breaking a world record would be a great way to promote the bakery and carry on its tradition.

The bakery, purchased by Richard Friedman, Patrick Lyons, and David Ginsberg back in February, has been known as Martha’s Vineyard Gourmet Cafe & Bakery since 2001, but the shop’s history as a bakery goes back to 1948, when it was Walmsley’s Bakery.

The apple fritter has always been a staple at the bakery, so Biren thought it seemed appropriate to pick it as a potential record breaker. The pastry is so popular with Islanders and visitors that the bakery has to set limits on how many can be purchased by a single customer.

Armed with an idea to break a record, Biren contacted Guinness World Records to get approved to set the record for largest fritter. With enough baking gumption from his staff and no known challengers, Biren knew he had to do it. The kicker? The fritter needed to be edible — and consumed.

Biren then set up a video contest on social media for fans to win a chance at the first bites of the world’s largest fritter. Fans had to submit videos to the bakery declaring why they should be the ones to eat their way to the world record.

The bakery chose four winners from the contest: Chloe Mendel-Dwork, Tristan Silva, Stephanie Brothers, and a group from Camp Jabberwocky.

Chloe, a self-described “doughnut queen,” is a 14-year-old summer resident and doughnut enthusiast from New York. “Since I was really little, I’ve been obsessed with doughnuts,” Chloe said.

Chloe, who is a regular at Back Door Donuts and runs a fan account on the bakery, sent in her video, complete with doughnut-themed clothing, room decorations, and bloopers, as a joke with her friends. She said she was ecstatic when she learned she got picked, and couldn’t wait to dig into the fritter. “I’m excited; I’ve been saving my stomach all day,” she said.

Tristan Silva only used one prop in his submission — a Back Door Donuts apple fritter. Biren said Silva was the only applicant to actually eat one of the bakery’s fritters in his video. He also displayed some of his karate-kicking skills. “It’s always been a lifelong dream to be a part of a world record,” he said.

Camp Jabberwocky members Gracie Kolf, Jethra Fay, and Stacy Barron were dancing in excitement about the fritter, singing Elton John’s “Bennie and the Jets,” on their ride over to the bakery.

Jabberwocky director of outreach Kelsey Cosby told the Times that Jabberwocky members made a big apple fritter prop and coordinated a video, complete with skits and dancing, for their submission. “We used ‘Eat It’ by Weird Al Yankovic, which is a parody of Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat It.’ We thought it was perfect,” Cosby said.

Stephanie Brothers went a slightly different route, and kept her submission simple, with no props or skits. Brothers, a West Tisbury resident, has been working out for the past three years — losing a total of 101 pounds. Once a month, Brothers would have a “cheat day” and treat herself to none other than an apple fritter from Back Door Donuts. “I’ve always loved fritters,” she said.

Biren entrusted Chloe with hyping up the crowd and live-streaming the event on Instagram. Chants of “Doughnuts, doughnuts, doughnuts!” rang through the back parking lot in downtown Oak Bluffs as eager customers awaited their chance for a bite of the fritter.

Chef Rafat “Raffi” Jabri was the architect behind the fritter, making sure it was the right size and weight to fit inside the fryer. Assistant manager Tess McKenna told the Times the bakery had been working all day with successful test runs to see if the fritter could be done.

Several of the bakers carefully kneaded the dough and rolled slices of apple into it. Once the dough was put together, Jabri used a tray to carry the raw fritter, estimated to be nine times the size of a regular fritter, into the fryer.

After cooking in oil, Jabri inspected the fritter before it was covered in glaze, weighed, and measured. The fritter came in at a whopping 15 pounds, 11 ounces. Jabri then brought out his masterpiece to a cheering crowd for it to be measured. The fritter was 24.5 in. by 24 in., and 31 in. diagonally.

Biren told The Times this was a record attempt, not an actual record — yet. The photos and videos of the weight and measurements have to be sent to Guinness before any award is given, but Biren is optimistic.

“Making the biggest [fritter] is a great way to promote Back Door Donuts,” Biren said. “The fritter has always been the anchor.”