National Donut 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. However, not all fluffy national food days are merely clever marketing tools. One of those holidays, with more historical roots, is National Donut Day.
In 1938, the Salvation Army in Chicago, Illinois, held the first National Donut 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 donuts to soldiers serving in France during World War I.
In recognition of National Donut Day ― and for a little super-sweet fun ― we’ve searched high and low for some facts about donuts that might be of interest. Feel free to share these delicious little tidbits of donut 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 Donut its Hole
The ring shape of the modern donut is generally credited to Captain Hansen Gregory. Donut lore suggests Captain Gregory was also peeved about the undercooked center of the dough ball. However, 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 donut.
4. The Donut 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 U.S. soldiers who were stationed in France during World War I. They found that one of the things the troops missed the most was 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 donuts instead. The donuts were well received by the soldiers. Soon many of the volunteers were turning out hundreds of donuts each day. These special women became known by the troops as “Donut Girls.”
5. In 1920, the First Automatic Donut Machine Was Invented
Adolph Levitt had a bakery in New York City in the 1920s. When he started selling sweet, fried donuts, he couldn’t keep up with the demand. People were constantly lined up and waiting to buy his delicious donuts.
Levitt began working on an invention. He imagined a machine that could mass-produce his donuts and help keep his customers happy. He eventually invented something he called the “Wonderful Almost Human Automatic Donut Machine.” With his donut machine, Levitt could produce 80 donuts an hour. He later founded the Doughnut Corporation of America.
Levitt has been called the Henry Ford of donuts. His machine put donuts on the map and made the treats accessible to every income bracket.
6. Canadians Consume the Most Donuts
According to current donut research, Canada has the most donut shops per capita. Canadians consume more donuts than people in any other country in the world per capita. Some have lightheartedly dubbed the donut as Canada’s National Food.
7. The World’s Largest Donut Weighed 3.5 Tons
In 2007, an Australian donut franchise called, Donut King, coordinated the construction of a ginormous donut. It was made from more than 90,000 regular-sized donuts, 1,000 pounds of pink icing and 66 pounds of sprinkles. It was, indeed, the World’s Largest Donut. It took a team of 40 people around 10 hours to build it.
8. In Some Cultures, Eating Jelly Donuts can Bring You Good Luck
In Germany, people eat jelly donuts for good luck on New Year’s Eve. Some folks make a game of it and fill a few of the donuts with mustard instead of jelly. If a person bites into a mustard-filled donut, it’s predicted that they will suffer a year of bad luck.
9. The Average Glazed Donut Has About 12 Grams of Sugar
That’s the same amount we find in a serving of bottled spaghetti sauce. While we know donuts aren’t exactly health food, they aren’t the worst things a person can eat. With 12 grams of sugar in a typical glazed donut ― 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 Donut Eating
In April 2014, Philip Joseph Santoro, of San Francisco, California, ate an entire jelly donut, in 11.41 seconds without using his hands or licking his lips between bites. For the category of fastest jelly donut 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 donut that was invented by Dominique Ansel in his New York City bakery. It looks like a donut. 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 reselling the coveted pastries for up to ten times the original price.
12. A Donut Ice Cream Sandwich Is Actually a Thing
Just in case you need sweets sandwiched between your sweets, you can now buy a donut 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 donut? It sounds like it might be a good idea to try this at home. Wait, maybe that’s a bad idea.
13. Some Donuts Have Gotten a Little Unusual
Strange Donuts is a super cool little donut shop that opened in 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri. They offer traditional donuts, but they’re best known for their strange donut varieties. These include offerings like Crab Rangoon, which is a cream cheese- and crab-filled donut served with sweet and sour sauce. They also sometimes serve a Fish Fry Hush Puppy donut with tartar sauce and the Fat Baby Elvis donut 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 Donut Fries
Yes, you read that correctly. A little donut shop in the Koreatown area of Los Angeles, called California Donuts, is selling orders of donut fries. You can choose from powdered sugar donut fries or Nutella-dipped donut 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 – donuts. Lots of bakeries are offering a variety of bacon-topped donuts. We’ve seen maple bacon donuts, bacon chocolate donuts, bacon and egg donuts and various bacon-sprinkled flavors. Some bakeries are even serving bacon-wrapped donuts. It’s definitely a trend.
16. Nothing Says ‘I Do’ Like a Donut Wedding Cake
Yes, donut lovers far and wide are glad to know that donut 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 donuts the new cupcake.
Although 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. 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 12 or National Clams on the Half Shell Day at the end of March. Whatever you do, be sure to circle the first Friday of June on your calendar and celebrate National Donut 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, here!
Rick Kaselj, MS