National Donut Day (also known as National Doughnut Day) on November 5th is one of two observed by donut lovers across the nation. The first Friday in June is the other day donuts steal the bakery case spotlight ready to tease their way into white bakery box and go home!
Visit the June page for more information on the other National Doughnut Day celebration.
History disputes the origin of the donut. One theory suggests Dutch settlers brought donuts to North America much like they brought other traditional American desserts. They receive credit for such desserts as the apple pie, cream pie and cobbler.
Donut shapes are as varied as their history. Was the original donut round? If so, American Hanson Gregory laid claim to inventing the ring-shaped donut in 1847 while working onboard a lime-trading ship. Only 16 at the time, Gregory claims he punched a hole in the center of dough with the ship’s tin pepper box. Later, he taught the technique to his mother.
Traveling further back in time, we look at an English cookbook. According to anthropologist Paul R. Mullins, an 1803 volume included donuts in the appendix of American recipes. However, the earliest recorded usage of the term donut is found in a short story in a Boston Times article about “fire-cakes and dough-nuts” published in 1808.
A more commonly cited first written recording of the word is Washington Irving’s reference to donuts in 1809 in his History of New York. He described balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat. The author called them donuts. Today, these nuts of fried dough are called donut holes.
Another author, William Cullen Bryant describes donuts fried in lard in his book Picturesque America; Or, the Land We Live In which was published in 1872.
Donut versus Doughnut
- Print ads for cake and glazed donuts and doughnuts existed from at least 1896 in the United States.
- George W. Peck published Peck’s Bad Boy and his Pa in 1900. It 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. Square donuts offer an easier-to-package product.
The more traditional spelling is doughnut. However, both doughnut and donut are pervasive in American English.
Donuts come in a large variety of recipes, flavors and toppings. However, just like many pastries, we are only limited by imagination and the ingredients at hand. From syrups and jellies to sprinkles and custards, top them, fill them, bake them or fry them. Donuts have a mouth-watering way of glazing and dusting their way into our shopping carts. They also slip into the break room at work to share.
HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL DONUT DAY
Stop at your favorite donut shop and indulge in a fresh donut or try making your own with one of the following recipes: