Twenty years of Cougartails and how they’re made

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Jared Wilkey is a full-time employee at the BYU Culinary Support Center, where most of the food BYU feeds its students comes from. 

Wilkey specializes in the baking and icing of Cougartails. He even dubbed himself the “Cougartail King” after becoming a salaried worker specializing in Cougartail production.

“We put 60-something pounds of flour, 50 lbs of donut base, and 50 lbs of ice water into a bowl and let that go for 15 minutes,” Wilkey said.

After the Cougartail dough rises, the workers cut them down to size and put them through a mechanized proofer.

Wilkey explained the proofer can hold more than 250 donuts. It takes 50 minutes for one donut to make the journey. Afterward, the Cougartails come out fluffed and ready for the fryer. The workers then ice them with maple flavoring.

“We have three icing tables, we pour in more than 40 pounds of icing per table and that can do over 130 Cougartails,” Wilkey said.

The team faces a tall task to uphold the time-honored tradition of BYU Cougartails before the next game.

“We have nearly 13,000, and we will be going through nearly 100 buckets of maple. That’s over two tons of just maple icing,” Wilkey said.

Wilkey also commented on the popularity of the Cougartail.

“People have made it their tradition to come to games, have a Cougartail, sit watching sports,” Wilkey said.

As “Cougartail King,” Wilkey also explained how the Cougartail first came to be through a BYU dining director.

“He wanted something really unique for BYU to do at games, so after several different iterations he ended up going into the Wilk and saw the tail of the cougar and said ‘what if we did a tail?’ He asked the donut people at the time to work on something like that and they came up with the Cougartail,” Wilkey said.

The Cougartails are their current size because it was “the largest thing they could fit in a donut fryer,” Wilkey said.

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