We found out not only how National Doughnut Day got its start, we’ve delved into the history and mystery of these fried wonderments. Makes a good read while you enjoy a donut on National Doughnut Day, celebrated every first Friday in June at donut shops across the country.
Love our cheap ideas? Get our FREE email newsletters.
Choose from daily, weekly, and monthly lists:
About National Doughnut Day
The Salvation Army started National Donut Day in 1938. But the story begins much earlier.
In 1917, The Salvation Army began to provide support for U.S. soldiers fighting in World War I. Volunteers traveled overseas and to work near the front lines and supply soldiers with clothes and other needs, including baked goods.
Of course, baked goods don’t keep long or travel well. So, two volunteers, Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance (i.e. an administrative assistant) began frying donuts. Having limited resources, but being incredibly resourceful, they used soldiers’ helmets as a fry bucket. The task boosted morale, who nicknamed the ladies “Donut Lassies”. Salvation Army continued the practice in WWII.
From 1917-1920 doughnut day history continued on the home front, bake sales were held to sell doughnuts at premium prices for charitable purpose. In 1927, Chicago-based Salvation Army began selling “tags” (paper doughnuts) along with real doughnuts.
In 1938 the modern Doughnut Day, launched in Chicago with a “Doughnuts to Dollars” charity drive selling paper doughnuts that today has grown into a “holiday” about free doughnuts and discounts, rather than charity.
The wHole History of Doughnuts
FoodTimeline.com reports doughnuts (via Oxfgord University Press) have a long history with roots in ancient Rome and Northern Europe. Washington Irving is generally credited for introducing doughnuts to America in 1809.
A Smithsonian article about doughnut history reports that archaeologists keep turning up fossilized bits of what look like doughnuts in prehistoric Native American settlements and there is a convoluted dougnut history (full of who knows how many holes) that includes Dutch immigrants, Russian exiles, French bakers, Irving Berlin, Clark Gable, and a number of Native Americans.
Food historian Tori Avey also reports from doughnut history that fried dough made appearances in Medieval times (500 to 1500 AD) in Greek, Roman, and Arab cuisines.
Encyclopedia.com states that bread history goes back to 8,000 BCE in Egypt. So, I can only imagine that somewhere between 8,000 BCE and 500 AD, some enterprising soul (and likely several at the same time in different places), had some dough and a vat of melted fat, and a match was made.
Indeed, there are examples of some sort of fried dough in cultures across the globe, including Africa, Asia (China, India and elsewhere), Central and South America, Mediterranean cultures, Jewish cuisine, and on and on.
Any good cook worth their salt (or anyone hungry), would figure out that frying dough can be a tasty treat. It’s as logical as meat and fire, rice and beans, macaroni and cheese.
So, is it spelled doughnut or donut?
“The word [doughnut] is presumably an allusion to the small, rounded shape of the original doughnuts; the element -nut is used similarly in gingernut and its now obsolete synonym spicenut.”
—An A to Z of Food & Drink John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 113)[NOTE: according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “doughnut” was first printed in 1808. “Donut” is a 20th century USA phonetic rendering.]
What about donut holes?
To any well-rounded cook, it’s not a mystery; in fact, it’s obvious. It’s not like you need to be a detective.
First of all, if you cut a ring of dough, you may as well fry the ball of dough you took out in the middle. If you re-formed a bunch of holes into another ring, the resulting doughnut would be tough. And nobody wants a tough doughnut (the horror!). And no good cook wants to make bad doughnuts.
Second, the hole is cut out to help the round doughnut fry more evenly. Simple as that.
Seattle-Tacoma Doughnut Shops
National Doughnut Day (aka “Donut”) is the first Friday in June.
Some of Seattle’s local and America’s favorite national donut shops offer a sweet freebie or other deals for #NationalDonutDay. Listed below is a round-up of our favorite shops, which make for a sweet outing any time of year. We focused on mostly local shops offering a wide range of classic donuts and styles from around the world, plus some national chains offering a NDD deal.
(Listed alphabetically by company name)
- 9th and Hennepin Donuts in West Seattle serves a rotating selection of seasonal flavors highlighting produce from local farmers markets.
- Donut Factory in Lynnwood and Seattle offers a large menu of donut styles and flavors.
- Dochi (Seattle/Uwajimaya Grocery, Tukwila/Lam’s Seafood Market) offers mochi rice flour doughnuts in rotating flavors
- Frost in Mill Creek has a doughnut & fun filled day. Check ’em out on Facebook: FROST | Facebook
- Good Day Donuts in White Center makes handmade doughnuts five days a week, Wednesday-Sunday, with daily features including a full selection of Vegan donuts on Thursdays & Sundays.
- King Donuts in Rainier Beach has long been a neighborhood favorite making old-school handmade doughnuts.
- Krispy Kreme (Seattle, Issaquah, Tacoma) participating shops may offer Any Doughnut Free and/or a BOGO dozen for $1.
- Luke’s Donuts in Puyallup (12314 Meridian Ave E) opens at 5:00AM.
- Mighty-O Donuts (5 Seattle locations) always has something special.
- Mochinut in Seattle on South Lake Union (400 Fairview Ave N) has “ring style” Japanese Mochi Donuts made with rice flour
- Sunrise Donuts & Espresso in Redmond offers a selection of handmade donuts daily.
- Super Six restaurant (3714 S Hudson St, 98118) in south Seattle‘s Columbia city neighborhood offers malasadas–Hawaiian style donuts.
- The Flour Box (5520 Rainier Ave S) in south Seattle‘s Hillman City neighborhood is a James Beard Award semifinalist offering handmade filled brioche donuts in rotating sweet and savory flavors.
- The Original House of Donuts in Spanaway makes fresh handmade donuts from scratch everyday.
- Top Pot Doughnuts (multiple locations) offer takeout and delivery from most locations.
- Westernco Donut in Bellevue has been making handmade classic donuts for over 30 years.
- Zuri’s Donutz in Lynnwood offers an eclectic selection of classic and deliciously unique flavors plus DFGV: dairy gluten free vegan options.
Seattle-Tacoma National Donut Day Deals
But wait, there’s more!
- Our big list of annual food festivals
- Where to find food trucks in the Puget Sound region
- Free (and cheap) cooking classes and food tours
- Find free and cheap things to do every day on the Greater Seattle on the Cheap calendar.
- Visit the Greater Seattle on the Cheap home page and choose from a menu of free and cheap activities in the Puget Sound region.
Love our cheap ideas? Get our FREE email newsletters. Choose from daily, weekly, and monthly lists. Click here to subscribe.