Friday, 5 June 2015

National Doughnut Day: Appreciating Fried Rings of Cakey Goodness

National Doughnut Day, always celebrated on the first day of June.

Now whether you say Doughnut, Donut, Berliner, Krapfen, Beignet or Monnki, prefer Ring, Filled, Topped, Fried, Oiled, the holes or just the mixture itself we can all appreciate the sweet cakey goodness of a Doughnut.

They are made and consumed in phenomenal levels worldwide, they have been made famous by Homer Simpson and various brands such as Krispy Kreme. Oh and for your information if you are ever in the States and you buy a drink from Dunkin Donut’s make sure to grab your free one.


Free Doughnut.

For years the general held truth was that doughnuts were invented in the 19th century by Dutch settlers in America where a sweet confectionary called oliekoek (oil cake) was popular. 

However one American by the name of Hanson Gregory claims that he invented the traditional ring doughnut in 1847, oddly enough on a lime trading ship. He claims that as a 16 year old boy he was dissatisfied with the other doughnuts of the time (normally twisted in in various shapes). He found them too greasy and due to the shapes they were twisted into the dough would sometimes be raw in the middle (I personally don’t see this as a problem). So he had the ingenious idea to make the cake into a ring and he accomplished this by putting a pepper grinder through the doughnut to make the hole.

Paul R Mullins, an anthropologist found the first cookbook to mention doughnuts. It was found in an English volume published in 1803. In the tome were a variety of doughnuts and by the mid-19th century doughnuts began to look and taste like their modern day counterpart. They were viewed as an American food.

A fourth theory on their origin came to light in 2013, appearing to predate all previous claims, when a recipe for "dow nuts" was found in a book of recipes and domestic tips written in 1800 by the wife of Baron Thomas Dimsdale, the recipe being given to the dowager Baroness by an acquaintance who transcribed for her the cooking instructions of a local delicacy, the "Hertfordshire nut".

Four theories into the origin of the doughnut. In all honesty if I could I’d claim discovery of this wonderful treat.
The word itself also brings along an interesting history the word Doughtnut was dated in 1808 short story and featured in Washinton Irving’s History of New York in 1809 however the spelling Donut appeared in the 1900’s. A common folk tale is that the New York Based ‘Display Doughnut Machine Corporation’ abbreviated the word to remove the silent u, g and h. Their logic being if non-English speakers could pronounce the word, they would be more likely to buy their products.

So why celebrate National Doughnut Day? Surely not to just celebrate the food itself, well why not?? Interestingly there is a rather nice history behind the day which focuses more on the people than the day itself.
During World War I, women volunteers of the Salvation Army made doughnuts for the soldiers serving on the frontlines as a way to boost their morale. In 1938 at the Chicago Branch of the Sally Army National Doughnut day was born, it came to be in part as a way to raise funds for, and awareness of, the group’s work in the community. The main spirit of the day however was the recognition of the contribution women were making to the war effort.

The tradition begun by the Salvation Army’s dough girls or dough lassies, as they were sometimes called, was picked up again by the Red Cross during World War II, when LIFE dispatched a photographer to capture the women in action. The women Bob Landry photographed were posted in England, one of 72 similar outfits across the country. And the morale boost they brought was not only a result of the treats they offered. As LIFE wrote of the volunteers, “They are hand-picked for looks, education, personality and experience in recreational fields. They are hardy physically and have a sociable, friendly manner.” The dough lassies were greeted with howls of delight and chants of ‘Doughnuts would win the war!’
So the doughnut, an object that’s bad for you? A flag to rally behind or a humble cake? Regardless, they are loved world-wide and I am glad there is a day to celebrate them.

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