National Doughnut Day's unique history

apple cider donuts

Once again a national (US) "food holiday" is on the horizon. Friday, June 3 is National Doughnut Day, but it isn't just another arbitrary food holiday cooked up by a commercial enterprise - this special day has roots that go back almost 100 years.

According to a press release by Krispy Kreme, National Doughnut Day's origins stretch back to 1917, when 250 Salvation Army volunteers were looking for a way to provide comfort to U.S. troops who were fighting on the front lines during WWI. They landed on the idea of frying doughnuts and serving them to the soldiers.  Facing limited resources, the Salvation Army's Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance came up with the clever solution of frying donuts in soldiers' helmets. The volunteers were dubbed "Doughnut Lassies" by the troops. However, the first "holiday" didn't occur until some 20 years after the doughnut frying event, when The Salvation Army celebrated Doughnut Day on the first Friday in June, 1938, to honor the Lassies.

Several local and regional chains are offering free doughnuts to customers, including Krispy Kreme and Dunkin' Donuts. Krispy Kreme customers are encouraged to donate to The Salvation Army's miniature Red Kettles stationed at the registers of participating locations.

Photo of Apple cider donuts from The Everyday Baker by Abigail Johnson Dodge

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