Today is National Donut Day and to celebrate many of my favorite doughnut shops are celebrating with free donuts. Krispy Kreme is celebrating with a FREE doughnut of any variety, no purchase necessary and Dunkin Donuts is handing out free donuts with any beverage purchase. It has everyone from the donate fanatic to the “oh my, this is killing my diet” fan stopping in for a delicious treat and all of this excitement has me wondering a few things.
First, how in the world was the donut invented? Upon my quest for this answer I learned a few interesting tidbits. Did you know Doughnuts have been around since, well…almost forever! Archaeologists have turned up several petrified fried cakes with holes in the center in prehistoric ruins in the Southwestern United States. It’s apparently unclear what they were made of so many people like to start with the Dutch in the 19th century. Doughnuts were then known as olykoeks (or oily cakes). It appears that the sweet dough balls were frying them in pork fat.
But what about the hole?!
This is where the story starts to get shady but alas I will give you both versions and allow you to decide for yourself.
The popular half truth begins with a very real sea captain and his mother. In 1847, Elizabeth Gregory was known in her New England circle to make a very fine olykoek. Her secret was a dash of nutmeg and that she filled the centers with hazelnuts or walnuts.
It is said that she was the one to call them dough-nuts. However, a more plausible explanation of the name is that many early recipes instructed chefs to create “little nuts of dough” and place these balls into the hot oil.
As story has it, Mrs. Gregory sent her dough-nuts and recipe on a sea voyage with her son Captain Hanson Crockett Gregory. It is here that one legend branches off into several versions.Some say Captain Hanson found himself having difficulty steering his ship and holding his dough-nut at the same time. Thus he impaled his dough-nut on one of the spokes of his steering wheel, he liked it so much that he ordered his cook to hence for cut out the centers.
A slightly more realistic story is that the Captain didn’t like the nuts and he poked them out. Then the ship’s cook created all subsequent doughnuts with the centers removed using the top of a round tin pepper box as a cutter.
Whatever the story you choose to believe, it appears that this signature look is what helped propel the dough-nuts to fame. They are now a timeless classic..despite the intentions of the snooty bagel trying to take over around the 70’s.
Second, I realize we like to create holidays for just about everything but National Donut Day?! I can only ask, how? After doing some research I was pleased with my answer. National Donut Day was created by the Salvation Army in 1938 to honor the women who served donuts to soldiers during World War I. (Awe)
Third, and probably most importantly – which is my favorite?! ;) I’m a classic girl with classic taste and so I have to go with the original Krispy Kreme, followed up by the Cinnamon glazed, and finally the glazed twist.