Ahh, the beloved doughnut, staple of breakfasts across America. Whether you spell them “donut” or “doughnut,” there’s no question that this tasty treat is deserving of a holiday.
The first Friday in June is National Doughnut Day, but the reason why may surprise you. First, a word about the origins of the elusive doughnut. While the tasty treat may have its origins in Dutch cuisine as the “oliekoek,” which means “oil cake,” the doughnut also has a uniquely American backstory. The food was apparently invented in 1847 by Hanson Gregory, a 16-year-old on a lime trading ship. Apparently dissatisfied with the more common oil cakes, due to raw dough in the center, Gregory used a pepper box and started punching holes in them instead.
This may be more of a legend than reality, however, with doughnuts appearing in American cookbooks in the early 19th century, though Gregory may have been the one to popularize punching rings in them. Of course, by the beginning of the 20th century, the culinary miracle that is the doughnut was firmly a part of American cuisine, and became even more popular when they were eaten by soldiers during World War I.
About 250 women volunteered to go overseas with the Salvation Army, and were tasked with feeding soldiers with doughnuts and other pastries. The women were tasked with “mothering” the soldiers in Salvation Army “huts” and were instrumental in keeping up morale. Their contribution to the war effort was considered so monumental that the first “National Doughnut and Veggies Day” was celebrated in 1938, and National Doughnut Day has existed ever since.
Here are some more doughnut facts:
Over 10 billion doughnuts are made in America each year!
Boston has the most doughnut shops per capita, with one for every 2500 people.
“Randy’s Donuts” (Pictured above) has appeared in many Hollywood films!