FARGO -- We first saw Zach Vraa at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome as the long-haired wide receiver who couldn't keep his collar bones intact. He broke both, one of them twice. Once that got figured out, thanks to titanium plates, he went on to a stellar career finishing with 195 receptions for 2,957 yards and 28 touchdowns.
He caught passes from North Dakota State quarterbacks Brock Jensen, Carson Wentz and Easton Stick. Jensen is the Division I FCS career wins leader as a starting quarterback, Wentz is already an NFL star and Stick could threaten Jensen's FCS wins record if the Bison have a successful season. Vraa was on the receiving end of what most likely will go down as the most historic three-quarterback run in the history of FCS football.
As potent as those three were and are to Bison football, none of them can decipher a donut like Vraa can.
He's "The Donut Guy."
Thanks to social media, it's as if he's changing an old slogan to "baseball, donuts, apple pie and Chevrolet."
Vraa's part-time, mostly humorous schtick is simple: He'll drive to a donut shop in or around the Twin Cities, buy a few donuts, go out to his pickup, turn on the dash-mounted camera and give a short evaluation that he posts on Instagram. They border on intelligent analysis of a donut like the one from The Thirsty Whale Bakery that honors Elvis Presley to consistent dry humor that borders on hilarious.
The Elvis - @thirstywhalebakery . . Elvis knew flavor combos better than anyone else back in the day: Peanut Butter, Banana and Bacon. It’s sweet, salty and everything right when it comes to sandwiches (and donuts) even though this doesn’t have bacon, I had to give it a shot. . Like I said, the peanut butter glaze is very sweet so a little saltiness would help balance it out even though I loved the flavor. The banana splooge was basically banana pudding so depending on your preferences, you may love it or hate it. For me, it was a nostalgic taste but I would prefer more of a real banana flavor. Changing my rating from 8.3 to 7.8/10
A post shared by Zach Vraa (@vraamoney_eats) on
Even a local Minneapolis TV station did a feature on Vraa's reviews.
"I was never one to be obsessed about it but once the donut thing got going, I just built on it," Vraa said.
Vraa finished his NDSU career in 2015 with five FCS national title rings. He works full-time in sales for Keyence Corporation, a factory automation company. And he still looks like he could play playground football.
It goes somewhat against the stereotype of what a Donut Guy could look like if given the mass quantities of samples. I don't want to get the fine folks at Sandy's Donuts mad at me, but donuts aren't exactly part of the Atkins, Weight Watchers or South Beach diets.
I'm sure there probably are lower-calorie donuts around, but one glance behind the counter at Sandy's and that's not happening. The temptation is too great, especially those chocolate swirl ones. Donuts have an inherent ability to weaken the diet will.
"For me being a college athlete, I've always had that lean build to me," Vraa said. "I work out. I'm still active. It allows me to enjoy donuts while not being 300 pounds."
Vraa is quite precise with his reviews and quite honest. He did a semi-rip job on an apple fritter from Dorothy Ann Bakery & Cafe in Woodbury, Minn., giving it a 6.1 rating out of 10.
"This apple fritter is not cutting it for me, not a ton of flavor and the texture and consistency is a little on the chewy side," he said in his review. "I like it crispy on the outside and moist on the inside with apple chunks, which I really can't see."
Others, like the S'Mores donut at The Grind Coffee & Creamery in Bloomington, Minn., got a favorable review with a 9.1 rating. The chocolate pudding-filled donut at Angel Food Bakery & Donut Bar in Minneapolis was even better with a 9.4.
"I think even Carl from 'The Walking Dead' would be impressed by this," he said on his video.
You can find The Donut Guy on Instagram at "vraamoney_eats." He has more than 3,300 followers. It appears he's not going away any time soon, and actually expanding. Look for a "donut event" coming to a social media platform near you.
"We're not in a position to announce it just quite yet," Vraa said.
What I am waiting for is The Donut Guy's review of Sandy's. Now that would be the "donut event" of the year in Fargo.