Brought to you by Red Star®Yeast
National Doughnut Day began in 1938 as a Salvation Army fundraiser to honor their “Doughnut Dolly” volunteers who served doughnuts to the US soldiers stationed in France during WWI. The Salvation Army in Chicago continues to host this celebratory day on the first Sunday in June (this year it’s June 5 - mark your calendars!), even partnering with doughnut manufacturers across the country to raise funds for their charitable work.
For true doughnut lovers, there is nothing more intoxicating than laying eyes on the most decadent, supremely soft pastries, deep fried and dripping in sugary nirvana. The mystery of what creamy filling has been piped into the doughnut is almost too much to bear (Is it custard? jelly? chocolate? perhaps?). On National Doughnut Day, ditch the diet and head to your local doughnut shop for your favorite yeasty, sugary option, or have some fun and make them yourself.
Doughnuts are thought to have originated in Holland, appearing in New York (then New Amsterdam) with the arrival of Dutch settlers in the 17th century. Initially known as “Olykoek” (Dutch for “oily cake”), the name was thankfully changed to “dough-nut”, or “donut”, due to its resemblance to a nut made of dough. In fact, ironically, the original dough-nuts probably bore a closer resemblance to today’s donut hole (munchkin) treats than to doughnuts themselves.
Regardless of shape, Americans couldn’t get enough of this sweetened, fried cake, and by the mid-1800s, recipes for the delicacy began appearing in cookbooks, increasing the doughnut’s availability.
The familiar ring-shape is credited to Hanson Gregory, a young merchant sailor who decided to punch out the hole in the center of the dough to avoid the excessive grease and raw center of regular doughnuts. In 1920, an automatic doughnut machine was invented, and the resulting product became popular at the 1934 World's Fair. Franchises soon followed.
There are countless regional variations of doughnuts, from the Moroccan Sfenj, to the French Beignet and the Italian Zeppole, but none quite ubiquitous as the North American doughnut’s colorfully glazed, frosted, sprinkled, or filled appearance that never fails to spark joy.
Sure, doughnuts may be nutritionally void and contain an astronomical number of calories, but when paired with a steaming coffee, it’s a no-brainer as to why this iconic pastry is the preferred choice of fuel for law enforcement as well as Homer Simpson’s favorite food.
While we’ll never tire of the classic Glazed or Boston Cream variety, innovative doughnut flavors are all the rage, and we’re not complaining. The only thing better than a fried ring of dough, is one with crazy, unexpected toppings.