DOUGHNUT WEEK: The Beginnings

Welcome to Doughnut Week here at Tickled Pink.

That’s right – the deliciousness we are celebrating in a week-long bakestravaganza is the Canadian favourite: the doughnut.

Have you ever wondered where the doughnut comes from?  This has plagued me for years.  So I asked our good friends at Wikipedia, and here’s what they had to say:

Doughnuts have a disputed history. One theory suggests they were invented in North America by Dutch settlers,[5] who were responsible for popularizing other American desserts, including cookies, apple and cream pie, and cobbler.[citation needed] Indeed, in the 19th century, doughnuts were sometimes referred to as one kind of oliekoek (a Dutch word literally meaning “oil cake”), a “sweetened cake fried in fat.”[6]

Hanson Gregory, an American, claimed to have invented the ring-shaped doughnut in 1847 aboard a lime-trading ship when he was only 16 years old. Gregory was dissatisfied with the greasiness of doughnuts twisted into various shapes and with the raw center of regular doughnuts. He claimed to have punched a hole in the center of dough with the ship’s tin pepper box, and later taught the technique to his mother.[7]

According to anthropologist Paul R. Mullins, the first cookbook mentioning doughnuts was an 1803 English volume which included doughnuts in an appendix of American recipes. By the mid-19th century, the doughnut looked and tasted like today’s doughnut, and was viewed as a thoroughly American food.[8]

Really?  Because I can think of a few Canadians who would claim the doughnut as a Canadian food, no?  Canada has more doughnut shops per capita than any other country in the world.  Yet, we don’t have a National Doughnut Day as is celebrated in the US, the origins of which I find really interesting (Source: Wikipedia):

National Doughnut Day started on June 7, 1938 when a young military doctor by the name of Morgan Pett was sent to a military base. On his way there he stopped at a bakery and picked up 8 dozen doughnuts. When he arrived at the base he started helping many wounded soldiers, and would give them a free doughnut. One man he helped was a Lieutenant General by the name of Samuel Geary. Samuel Geary greatly appreciated the help on his leg, and the doughnut ( as he was a very comical man) so he decided to make a fund raiser with Morgan Pett to give every wounded solder, and the needy a doughnut. This fund raiser was later joined with the Salvation Army. Soon after the US entrance into World War I in 1917, The Salvation Army sent a fact-finding mission to France. The mission concluded that the needs of US enlisted men could be met by canteens/social centers termed “huts” that could serve baked goods, provide writing supplies and stamps, and provide a clothes-mending service. Typically, six staff members per hut would include four female volunteers who could “mother” the boys. These huts were established by The Salvation Army in the United States near army training centers.

About 250 Salvation Army volunteers went to France. Because of the difficulties of providing freshly baked goods from huts established in abandoned buildings near to the front lines, the two Salvation Army volunteers (Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance) came up with the idea of providing doughnuts. These are reported to have been an “instant hit”, and “soon many soldiers were visiting The Salvation Army huts”. Margaret Sheldon wrote of one busy day: “Today I made 22 pies, 300 doughnuts, 700 cups of coffee.”

Now can we talk about the spelling variation between “donut” and “doughnut”?  That is something that has been bugging me too.  I once wrote a letter to the Minister of Revenue complaining that they used the word “judgement” throughout my Notice of Assessment and it should have been spelled “judgment” (the Canadian variant).  Yes, that happened.  If anyone can explain to me how it happened that we have two spellings (doughnut and donut), I will send you a dozen delicious Tickled Pink donuts.  Err, I mean doughnuts.  And I promise, I will be giving you the answer somehow in the next few posts.  Post your answer in the comments or message me directly.

Listen, doughnuts are delightful and delicious and deserve to be celebrated.  Enjoy Doughnut/Donut Week everyone.

5 thoughts on “DOUGHNUT WEEK: The Beginnings

  1. Word on the street (aka, a random google search) is that Dunkin Donuts “created” the lazy spelling of the correct word, doughnut. 🙂

  2. WHOOOO!! I might have to follow donut week on a delay b/c I just ordered my donut pan from amazon. Joy’s recent posts got to you too, huh? I think I’ll have to start a new pinterest board solely for donut recipes. #inmymouth

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