National Doughnut Day is here! Finally, a justifiable reason to indulge in a little nugget of custard-filled, fried goodness, topped with chocolate and sprinkles. It’s true that many food holidays have commercial origins, like National Frozen Yogurt Day or National Cinnamon Bun Day. But not all fluffy national food days are merely clever marketing tools. One of those holidays, with more historical roots, is National Doughnut Day.
In 1938, the Salvation Army in Chicago, Illinois, held the first National Doughnut Day as a fundraiser to help meet the needs of people during the Great Depression. It was also a day to highlight and honor the women who dutifully supplied doughnuts to soldiers serving in France, during World War I.
In recognition of National Doughnut Day – and for a little super sweet fun – we’ve searched high and low for some facts about doughnuts that might be of interest. Feel free to share these delicious little tidbits of doughnut trivia with your friends, while you enjoy a jelly-filled treat today.
#1 – We can thank the Dutch for the recipe. It is believed that Dutch pilgrims brought their traditional “oily cakes” (olykoeks) to America. They were balls of dough, deep fried and embellished with raisins, nuts and apples. The oldest recipe we could find was in a historic 17th century Dutch cookbook called, De Verstandige Kock. Translated, that means “The Sensible Cook.” Many historians believe that middle class pilgrims, from Holland, carried a copy of this book with them when they settled in the United States.
#2 – Before they became ring-shaped, they were stuffed with nuts and fruit. As people experimented with fried dough recipes, they found that the middle of the ball of dough was often undercooked. Some cooks solved the problem by stuffing the dough ball with nuts. That may be how these little confections came to be called “dough-nuts.”
#3 – An American ship captain gave the doughnut its hole. The ring shape of the modern doughnut is generally credited to Captain Hansen Gregory. Doughnut lore suggests Captain Gregory was also peeved about the undercooked center of the dough ball. But apparently, he wasn’t a fan of nuts. Around 1847, he opted to punch a hole through the center of the dough and fry it. Out came a perfectly cooked, ring shaped doughnut.
#4 – The doughnut was a secret weapon for the American soldiers in World War I. Around 1917, The Salvation Army was looking for ways to help meet the needs of US soldiers who were stationed in France, during World War I. They found that one of the things the troops missed the most were baked goods from home.
The Salvation Army sent around 250 volunteers to France. The volunteers set up “huts” in abandoned buildings near where the troops were serving. Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance were two of the volunteers. They didn’t have the equipment to provide actual baked goods for the troops. But they had the idea to fry doughnuts instead. The doughnuts were well received by the soldiers. Soon many of the volunteers were turning out hundreds of doughnuts each day. These special women became known by the troops as “Doughnut Girls.”
#5 – In 1920, the first automatic doughnut machine was invented. Adolph Levitt had a bakery in New York City, in the 20’s. When he started selling sweet, fried doughnuts, he couldn’t keep up with the demand. People were constantly lined up and waiting to buy his delicious doughnuts.
Levitt began working on an invention. He imagined a machine that could mass produce his doughnuts and help keep his customers happy. He eventually invented something he called the “Wonderful Almost Human Automatic Doughnut Machine.” With his doughnut machine, Levitt could produce 80 doughnuts an hour. He later founded the Doughnut Corporation of America.
Levitt has been called The Henry Ford of doughnuts. His machine put doughnuts on the map and made the treats accessible to every income bracket.
#6 – Canadians consume the most doughnuts. According to current doughnut research, Canada has the most doughnut shops, per capita. And Canadians consume more doughnuts than people in any other country in the world (per capita). Some have lightheartedly dubbed the doughnut as Canada’s National Food.
#7 – The World’s Largest Doughnut weighed 3.5 tons. In 2007, an Australian doughnut franchise called, Donut King, coordinated the construction of a ginormous doughnut. It was made from more than 90,000 regular sized doughnuts, 1,000 pounds of pink icing and 66 pounds of sprinkles. It was, indeed, the World’s Largest Doughnut. It took a team of 40 people around 10 hours to build it.
#8 – In some cultures, eating jelly doughnuts can bring you good luck. In Germany, people eat jelly doughnuts for good luck on New Year’s Eve. Some folks make a game of it and fill a few of the doughnuts with mustard instead of jelly. If a person bites into a mustard-filled doughnut, it’s predicted that they will suffer a year of bad luck.
#9 – The average, glazed doughnut has about 12 grams of sugar. That’s the same amount we find in a serving of bottled spaghetti sauce! While we know doughnuts aren’t exactly health food, they aren’t the worst things a person can eat. With 12 grams of sugar in a typical glazed doughnut (14 grams in a chocolate frosted one), we can put them in the category of “once in a while” foods.
#10 – Philip Joseph Santoro holds the world record for fastest jelly doughnut eating. In April of 2014, Philip Joseph Santoro, of San Francisco, California, ate an entire jelly doughnut, in 11.41 seconds, without using his hands or licking his lips between bites. For the category of fastest jelly doughnut eating, Santoro is the Guinness World Record holder to this day.
#11 – Dominique Ansel invented the Cronut in 2013 and crowds went wild. The cronut is a combination of a croissant and a doughnut that was invented by Dominique Ansel in his New York City bakery. It looks like a doughnut. But it’s made from croissant dough, filled with cream and deep fried. When it was invented, people lined up in lines 100 deep to try the cronut. Some folks were even re-selling the coveted pastries for up to ten times the original price.
#12 – A doughnut ice cream sandwich is actually a thing. Just in case you need sweets sandwiched between your sweets, you can now buy a doughnut ice cream sandwich. A trendy Washington D.C. eatery called Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken has been known to sell them on special. Hmmm, a scoop of double chocolate ice cream sandwiched perfectly between two slices of a glazed chocolate doughnut? Sounds like it might be a good idea to try this at home. Wait, maybe that’s a very, very bad idea.
#13 – Some doughnuts have gotten a little unusual. Strange Doughnuts is a super cool little doughnut shop that opened in 2013, in St. Louis, Missouri. They offer traditional doughnuts – but they’re best known for their strange doughnut varieties. These include offerings like Crab Rangoon – a cream cheese and crab filled doughnut served with sweet & sour sauce. They also sometimes serve a Fish Fry Hush Puppy doughnut with tartar sauce and the Fat Baby Elvis doughnut with chocolate, peanut butter and banana pudding. They offer the super strange flavors every Thursday, Friday and Saturday until they sell out. Other flavors (both traditional and a little odd) are available through the rest of the week.
#14 – If you really want to go off your diet, try doughnut fries! Yes, you read that correctly. A little doughnut shop in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles, called California Doughnuts, is selling orders of doughnut fries. You can choose from powdered sugar doughnut fries or Nutella-dipped doughnut fries with sprinkles. Don’t worry, the restaurant is open 24 hours.
#15 – Let’s not forget to add bacon. It seems that everything needs a little bacon added to it these days. From candy bars, to Brussels sprouts, to – you guessed it – doughnuts! Lots of bakeries are offering a variety of bacon topped doughnuts. We’ve seen maple bacon doughnuts, bacon chocolate doughnuts, bacon and egg doughnuts and various bacon sprinkled flavors. Some bakeries are even serving bacon wrapped doughnuts. It’s definitely a trend.
#16 – Nothing says “I do” like a doughnut wedding cake. Yes, doughnut lovers far and wide are glad to know that doughnut wedding cakes not only exist, but in some circles, they are downright fashionable. Some couples are stacking them up into tiers, while others offer a donut dessert bar at the reception. It’s a hot trend. Some are calling doughnuts the new cupcake.
Though we’re not entirely sure how and why it ever became of national importance to celebrate individual foods as if they had their own food birthdays, it’s certainly fun. And it’s also a great excuse to indulge a bit.
So don’t feel bad if you missed National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, on April 12th, or National Clams on the Half Shell Day at the end of March. But whatever you do, be sure to circle the first Friday of June on your calendar and celebrate National Doughnut Day to the fullest.
If you want to know what foods will help you restore your natural vitality and get slim and stay slim, then check out the Best Foods That Rapidly Slim & Heal In 7 Days program.
Rick Kaselj, MS