Food + Drink

published : 2023-08-21

National Doughnut Day: Unraveling the Intriguing History and Facts about Doughnuts

Exploring the Little-Known Aspects of America's Favorite Pastry

A black and white image of Salvation Army volunteers, known as 'Dough Lassies', preparing doughnuts during the First World War. Focus on the effort and camaraderie. Taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

Twice a year, we enter the sweet ring of celebration that is National Doughnut Day. A humble pastry has bagged two exclusive days on the calendar, reflecting its endearing popularity.

One such doughnut dedication happens on the first Friday of June, with its inception rooted in a noble cause. In 1938, the Salvation Army declared this day to honor their volunteers—fondly addressed as 'Dough Lassies'— who catered doughnuts to the soldiers battling in the First World War.

The existence of a second National Doughnut Day in November is shrouded in mystery. Tales swirl around a bakery's Veterans Day promotion, while others point at a Vietnam POW named Orson Swindle, who convincingly proclaimed November 10 as a significant food holiday, surprisingly resulting in specially ordered sticky buns for all.

An image of a segregated Dunkin' shop in the bustling streets of New York, bathed in the golden glow of dusk. Try to capture the allure of the neon sign amidst the metropolitan backdrop. Taken with Nikon D850.

With over 1,400 outlets, it is New York, not its founding state of Massachusetts, that holds the crown for the highest number of Dunkin' stores. While the love for Dunkin' reigned supreme in New England, the chain's outlets remain elusive in Idaho, Washington, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Oregon.

The incarnation of doughnuts has seen an evolution. The earliest variants were sphere-shaped pastries, with no hints of the contemporary ring form that we enjoy today. It is believed that the ring-shape was introduced by a New England sailor named Hanson Crockett Gregory to overcome the issue of uncooked dough in the center.

Let's now travel to the Netherlands to explore a special tradition. Every New Year's Eve, the Dutch enjoy oliebollen, small doughnuts filled with dried fruit. Ancient Germanic tribes reportedly instituted this practice to protect themselves from the pagan goddess Perchta during Yule. According to legend, those who ate oliebollen were spared from Perchta's wrath—her sword sliding off their full, greasy bellies.

A photograph of a pastry chef delicately crafting a doughnut in a rustic local bakery. Emphasize their concentration and devotion to the doughnut art. Taken with Sony Alpha a7 III.

As we dip into the intricacies further, let's dunk our doughnut into coffee - a habit popularized by Clark Gable in the 1934 film 'It Happened One Night'. This long-loved tradition allegedly originated when a silent film actress mistakenly dropped her treat into her coffee cup.

From glazed to Boston cream, jelly to frosted, doughnuts come in countless varieties. Astonishingly, more than 10 billion doughnuts are crafted each year across the United States. Chains like Dunkin', Krispy Kreme, and Honey Dew have reigned supreme in this ever-flourishing industry, while numerous local shops add their unique spins to this classic delight.