November 5 is one of two National Doughnut Days observed by doughnut lovers across the nation. The first Friday in June is the other day doughnuts steal the bakery case spotlight ready to tease their way into white bakery box home!
For more information on the National Doughnut Day celebrated in June, click here.
The history of the doughnut is disputed:
- One theory suggests Dutch settlers brought doughnuts to North America much like they brought other traditional American desserts including cookies, apple pie, cream pie and cobbler.
- An American, Hanson Gregory, claimed to have invented the ring-shaped doughnut in 1847 while on board a lime-trading ship at the age of 16. According to Gregory, he punched a hole in the center of dough with the ship’s tin pepper box and later taught the technique to his mother.
- Anthropologist Paul R Mullins states the first cookbook mentioning doughnuts was an 1803 English volume which included doughnuts in an appendix of American recipes.
- An 1808 short story describing a spread of “fire-cakes and dough-nuts” is the earliest known recorded usage of the term doughnut.
- A more commonly cited first written recording of the word is Washington Irving’s reference to doughnuts in 1809 in his History of New York. He described balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat and called doughnuts. Today, these nuts of fried dough are called doughnut holes.
Donut versus Doughnut
- Print ads for cake and glazed donuts and doughnuts existed from at least 1896 in the United States.
- Peck’s Bad Boy and his Pa, written by George W. Peck and published in 1900, contained the first known printed use of donut. In it, a character is quoted as saying, “Pa said he guessed he hadn’t got much appetite and he would just drink a cup of coffee and eat a donut.”
- In 1919, the Square Donut Company of America was founded, offering an easier to package product.
The more traditional spelling is doughnut. However, both doughnut and donut are pervasive in American English.
While doughnuts come in a large variety of recipes, flavors and toppings, just like many pastries, we are only limited by imagination and ingredients at hand. From syrups and jellies to sprinkles and custards, top them, fill them, bake them or fry them, doughnuts have a mouth-watering way of glazing and dusting their way into our shopping carts and finding their way to the break room at work to share.
National Doughnut Day started in 1938 as a fund raiser for Chicago’s The Salvation Army. Their goal was to help those in need during the Great Depression, and to honor The Salvation Army “Lassies” of World War I, who served doughnuts to soldiers.
- The donut or doughnut is a deep-fried piece of dough or batter. It comes from the Dutch origin of olykoeck or “oily cake”. The two most common types of donuts are the flattened sphere (you know…the ones that are injected with jelly or custard) and the ring donut.
- Internationally, Dunkin’ Donuts has over 1700 locations in 29 countries and over 6,000 stores in 30 countries world-wide! In the U.S. there are over 4,400 locations across 36 states.
- Krispy Kreme is probably best known for their fresh, hot, glazed, yeast-raised doughnuts. The company’s “Hot Doughnuts Now” flashing sign is an integral part of the brands appeal and fame.
- Jelly-filled and Chocolate frosted also rank as their top sellers. Coconut Crunch, although not a number one seller, still remains one of the over 52 varieties of donuts the chain produces on a yearly basis.
- Americans consume 10 billion doughnuts annually. It really is too big of a number when you consider that as of 1997, there were 6,792 doughnut shops in the U.S. alone. In 2005, I can only imagine that the number of doughnut shops has increased dramatically. Unfortunately, 1997 was the last year that all overall statistics and data is available on this subject (or at least that I can find!).
While no one really knows when doughnuts were invented or who invented them, doughnuts were originally made as a long twist of dough. Not in the ring form that is most common these days. It was also common in England for donuts to be made in a ball shape and injected with Jam after they were cooked. Both methods of cooking involve no human intervention as the ball and twist will turn itself over when the underside is cooked.
- The largest doughnut ever made was an American-style jelly donut weighing 1.7 tons, which was 16 feet in diameter and 16 inches high in the center.1
- Per capita, Canada has more doughnut shops than any other country.
- Adolph Levitt invented the first doughnut machine in 1920.
- The US doughnut industry is worth 3.6 billion dollars.