Who doesn’t love a creamy, frosted donut every now and then? Scratch that. Who doesn’t love a creamy, frosted donut every day of the week? Sure, most people consider them a guilty pleasure. But, hey, the way we see it, “pleasure” is the key word there. Donuts have existed for longer than you might think, actually, and they can be found across the globe — and throughout history. What’s weird, though, is that we still don’t know who first created this exceptionally popular snack. That doesn’t stop people from trying; archaeologists are still researching the subject and, while there are no definitive answers, they’re finding more and more evidence every day. [photo via flickr]
The creation of the donut goes back centuries. No, we’re not talking about the Civil War, or even Christopher Colombus sailing the ocean blue. We’re talking Ancient Rome and Greece here. The first printed recipe, however, dates back to 1803. And the more modern “doughnut” was brought to America by Dutch immigrants as early as the 19th century. These were balls of dough or cake that were fried in oil and sweetened with fruit and sugar. Yum. Let’s all take a moment to thank the wonderful people of Holland.
So, when did the hole in the center appear? Apparently, the center of these cakes did not cook as fast as the outside, a concept we’re sure you’ve all experienced when baking a cake for your kid’s birthday. As a solution, this part of the cake was sometimes filled with nuts, fruit, and other fillings that didn’t require cooking. An American ship captain named Hansen Gregory, however, had a different idea. Legend has it that Hansen punched a hole in the center of the dough just because he wanted to. And there it was — the modern donut.
Ever heard that M&M’s were made for soldiers so they wouldn’t get their hands sticky in combat? Well, donuts have a similarly patriotic history in the United States. During World War I, female Salvation Army workers were called “Doughnut Girls” because they would distribute these tasty treats to the American soldiers. Their name changed to “Doughnut Dollies” in World War II, but the popularity of the cakes never wavered. Indeed, it was between the two wars that a faster method of production was required to meet the growing demand for this delicious snack.
In 1920, a Russian immigrant named Adolph Levitt created the first automated donut machine. The rest, you could say, is history. Donuts became a staple in households, and restaurant chains Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme grew by the thousands. And then the variations started popping up. How bad is your sweet tooth? Grab a donut with frosting and sprinkles. Want to feel just a tad bit healthier? Throw on a fruit topping. There’s no limit to the creativity of donut toppings.
This next piece of information might make you cringe. Or cry. So skip this paragraph if you have a weak stomach. Donuts are delicious. We all know this. But, as saying goes, everything yummy comes with a price. Okay, yes, we made that saying up, but the average donut is between 300 and 400 calories and has high percentages of sugar and fat. You probably saw that coming. We’re sorry.
The first Friday of June is National Donut Day, and bakeries and restaurant chains frequently give away a free donut to each customer. Well, what are you waiting for? Get off this page and go get a donut…