Cort Pincock has never taken a single business or cooking class. He majored in chemistry and currently works as a full time chemist at the Idaho National Laboratory. But his passion has always been cooking.
"Cooking and chemistry relate a little bit. You have to follow a recipe, and you have to understand the relationship between your ingredients,” Pincock said.
Four years ago, Pincock took that passion to the farmers market when he started selling sugar doughnuts.
“Doughnuts are kind of the great unifier. No matter who you are or where you’re from, everyone loves doughnuts,” Pincock said.
The doughnuts were an instant hit and he quickly began picking up jobs selling at events and venues such as Fourth of July celebrations, Boo at the Zoo and the LaBelle Ice Palace. After years of building a loyal customer base, Pincock and his wife Katelyn Pincock began considering expanding.
“Everywhere we went we had people saying, ‘Oh, I love your doughnuts, I wish there was a place I could go to get them every day,’” Pincock said.
This March, Pincock and his wife Katelyn gave their fans just that by opening up a food truck under the name Sugared Moose Mini Donuts. Katelyn, who is an artist, painted the truck herself.
At the food truck, customers can buy doughnuts in a variety of gourmet flavors. While many places sell doughnuts with different flavored glaze, Pincock's doughnuts are unique in that it is the sugar itself that is flavored. Customers can also get sauces or toppings on them.
Flavors and toppings include cookies and cream, maple and raspberry. Their most popular flavor has always been huckleberry.
“Huckleberry is such an Idaho thing … once people get the huckleberry, that’s what they keep getting,” Pincock said.
Yet opening a business in March, in the midst of a pandemic, did not prove to be an easy task. The Pincocks decided to start small and grow with their demand. They started opening just two days a week, for a few hours at a time and hired just two employees.
“It was a crazy time, but we did pretty good. Every month we’ve grown in sales. We get new customers every day. People have been really supportive of small businesses at this time,” Pincock said.
They have since had added four additional employees and are now open six days a week.
Pincock wants to continue the model he has had since the beginning: slowly expanding as his customer base grows. The next step for Sugared Moose Mini Donuts is to try to stay open throughout the winter. Eventually, however, Pincock hopes to be able to quit his chemistry job and open a full-time brick-and-mortar Sugared Moose Mini Donuts shop.
“I’m definitely a dreamer that wants to do everything. My wife makes me promise every year to take things slowly,” Pincock said. "It’s been really, really fun to learn and become self-taught. It’s been so great to have this dream and work really hard and see that hard work pay off."
It’s the customers' love of his doughnuts that keeps that dream alive, despite the challenges of balancing his full-time job at INL, a food business and a family.
"I love coming up with a new idea, testing things out and getting really positive feedback from people. That’s my favorite part. Putting that smile on people’s faces. Especially a new customer we’ve never seen before, handing them their order and watching them take their first bite and being like, ‘Where have these been my whole life?’” Pincock said.
The food truck is located in the East Idaho Aquarium parking lot at 570 E. Anderson St. It is open four days a week from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.