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National Doughnut Day - June 7th This Year

National Doughnut Day, celebrated on the first Friday of June, June 7th this year, is a delightful holiday dedicated to honoring one of America’s favorite treats: the doughnut.

This day is more than just an excuse to indulge in delicious, sugary goodness; it has a rich history rooted in gratitude and community service. As we savor our favorite doughnuts, let’s explore the origins, variations, and cultural significance of this beloved holiday.

The Origins of National Doughnut Day

National Doughnut Day was established in 1938 by The Salvation Army in Chicago as a way to honor the “Doughnut Lassies” who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War I. These brave women provided comfort and a taste of home to American troops fighting in Europe, making doughnuts a symbol of warmth and support.

1. The Doughnut Lassies: During World War I, The Salvation Army sent volunteers, including women, to the front lines to provide assistance to soldiers. These volunteers, known as “Doughnut Lassies,” prepared and served doughnuts to boost the morale of the troops.

The doughnuts were often made using simple ingredients and cooked in soldiers' helmets. This ingenuity and dedication brought comfort to the soldiers and helped establish doughnuts as a beloved treat.

2. Establishing the Holiday: To honor the Doughnut Lassies and raise funds for the needy during the Great Depression, The Salvation Army created National Doughnut Day in 1938. The tradition continues to this day, celebrating the sweet treat and the charitable spirit behind it.

The Doughnut’s Journey Through History

Doughnuts have a long and fascinating history that spans continents and centuries. The origins of doughnuts can be traced back to ancient civilizations, but they have evolved significantly over time.

1. Early Origins: The concept of fried dough can be found in various cultures. Ancient Greeks and Romans enjoyed pastries fried in oil, while medieval European cooks made deep-fried dough balls, often sweetened with sugar or honey.

2. Arrival in America: Dutch settlers brought “olykoeks,” or oily cakes, to America in the 18th century. These early doughnuts were balls of cake fried in pork fat, sometimes filled with apples, prunes, or raisins to help cook the center evenly.

The name “doughnut” is believed to have been coined by American author Washington Irving in the early 19th century. The term refers to the dough balls or “nuts” used to make the treat.

3. Modern Doughnuts: By the early 20th century, doughnuts had become a popular American food. The invention of the doughnut machine in 1920 by Adolph Levitt, a Russian immigrant, revolutionized doughnut production, making them widely available and affordable.

Doughnut Varieties: A World of Flavors

Doughnuts come in an astonishing array of shapes, sizes, and flavors. Here are some popular varieties enjoyed around the world:

1. Classic Ring Doughnuts: These are the traditional doughnuts with a hole in the middle. They can be plain, glazed, or topped with sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings. The hole helps the doughnut cook evenly and quickly.

2. Filled Doughnuts: Filled doughnuts are a favorite for those who love a surprise inside. They are usually round and filled with jam, cream, custard, or other sweet fillings. Popular examples include jelly doughnuts and Boston cream doughnuts.

3. Cake Doughnuts: Cake doughnuts have a denser, cake-like texture and are often baked rather than fried. They come in various flavors, including chocolate, vanilla, and pumpkin spice, and can be glazed or coated in sugar.

4. Yeast Doughnuts: Yeast doughnuts are light and fluffy, thanks to the yeast used in the dough. They are typically deep-fried and can be glazed, powdered, or filled.

5. Cronuts: A relatively recent invention, the cronut is a hybrid between a croissant and a doughnut. Created by pastry chef Dominique Ansel in 2013, cronuts are known for their flaky, layered texture and rich flavor.

6. International Varieties:

  • Churros:  These Spanish treats are long, ridged doughnuts coated in sugar and often served with chocolate sauce.

  • Beignets:  A New Orleans favorite, beignets are square, powdered sugar-coated doughnuts with a light, airy texture.

  • Ponchik:  An Armenian and Russian filled doughnut, often filled with sweet cream or custard.

Celebrating National Doughnut Day

National Doughnut Day offers a wonderful opportunity to indulge in your favorite doughnuts, try new varieties, and even get creative with homemade recipes. Here are some fun ways to celebrate:

1. Visit Your Local Doughnut Shop: Many doughnut shops and bakeries offer special deals and free doughnuts on National Doughnut Day. It is a perfect excuse to support local businesses and enjoy fresh, delicious doughnuts.

2. Try a New Flavor: Step out of your comfort zone and try a doughnut flavor you have never had before. From exotic fruit glazes to unique fillings, there is always something new to discover.

3. Host a Doughnut Party: Gather friends and family for a doughnut-themed party. Set up a DIY doughnut bar with various toppings, glazes, and fillings, and let everyone create their own custom treats.

4. Bake Your Own Doughnuts: If you enjoy baking, why not try making doughnuts at home? There are countless recipes available for both fried and baked doughnuts, allowing you to experiment with different flavors and techniques.

5. Share on Social Media: Document your doughnut adventures on social media using popular hashtags. Share photos, recipes, and your favorite doughnut memories to join the global celebration.

Fun Doughnut Facts

To add some extra sweetness to your National Doughnut Day celebrations, here are a few fun facts about doughnuts:

Record-Breaking Doughnuts:  The largest doughnut ever made weighed 1.7 tons and was 16 feet in diameter. It was a jelly-filled doughnut created in New York in 1993.

Doughnut Consumption:  Americans consume over 10 billion doughnuts annually. That is approximately 31 doughnuts per person!

Doughnut Day Origin:  National Doughnut Day is one of several doughnut-related holidays. There is also National Jelly-Filled Doughnut Day on June 8th and National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day on September 14th.

Doughnut Chains:  Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ are two of the most famous doughnut chains in the world. Krispy Kreme’s signature Hot Light, indicating fresh doughnuts, is a beloved sight for doughnut lovers.

Reflection: National Doughnut Day is a delightful celebration of a beloved treat with deep historical roots. It does not matter if you are enjoying a classic glazed doughnut, a filled variety, or an inventive new flavor, this day is all about savoring the joy that doughnuts bring. As you indulge in your favorite doughnuts, take a moment to remember the Doughnut Lassies and the spirit of service and gratitude that gave rise to this sweet holiday.

So, on the first Friday of June, treat yourself to a doughnut (or two), share the experience with loved ones, and spread the joy on social media.

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