National Donut Day

A Short Retrospective on Donuts

It’s National Donut Day!

That means we need to take some time, buy a donut, and enjoy the time we have with it. 

Donut’s have become one of the most iconic breakfast foods in America. Whether its being devoured by Homer Simpson, sitting delectably in the Krispy Kreme window, or stereotypically eaten by cops at a donut shop; donuts have become more well known than the iconic Wheaties cereal box.

In the same way the modern American citizen didn’t originate in the United States (most likely), the donut also came from across the pond. 

The History of the Modern Donut

A box of a dozen donuts

The donut wasn’t always called “the donut” or even “doughnut.”

It originally came to the Americas by way of the Dutch bringing over their olykoek or “oily cakes.”

For obvious reasons, the name didn’t transfer over very well. It doesn’t sound too appetizing to go to the “oily cake shop” in the morning on your way to work.

So, the story given by the Smithsonian says that Elizabeth Gregory, the mother of a New England sailor, would make specialized oily cakes for her son and his crew. 

These oily cakes would utilize her son’s spice shipments of cinnamon and nutmeg. She would also allegedly add lemon rinds to help fight of scurvy while the crew was on the boat. 

Ms. Gregory would have trouble cooking the oily cakes all the way through, so she added either walnuts or hazelnuts to the center. This resulted in the literal name of “doughnuts.”

Captain Gregory jumps on from here and, in a classic refusal to be outshined by his mother, takes credit for creating the modern donut with a hole in the center.

Captain Gregory claims that the hole in the center comes from wanting to keep track of the doughnuts during storms by sticking them on the spokes of the captain’s steering wheel. 

He wanted to be able to have them on hand, but still control the ship when the waters were a bit rough. 

This shape of the donut is iconic, but it didn’t really gain true popularity until World War I. 

During the war, soldiers were getting homesick. To battle the homesickness, the soldiers were given donuts while in the trenches. This gave them a taste of home, while also being easy to eat and hold on to.

Modern Donuts

A size comparison of a normal donut with a Texas-Sized Donut from Round Rock Donuts

The modern donut maintains the iconic hole in the center, but the flavors vary greatly. 

It would be boring to have just a glazed donut everyday. For this reason, manufacturers, such as Krispy Kreme or Voodoo Donuts, make a ton of different flavors. 

To make it a staple in breakfasts, the donuts are often paired with coffee.

Donut shops are so important nowadays that you can find them in almost any town.

My parents live in a super tiny East Texas town that consists of some trailers, a church, a Dollar General, and, of course, a donut shop.

You can visit Universal Studios on either coast to get a taste of the incredibly famous Homer Simpson donut he eats in just about every episode.

If you’re feeling a huge craving for a donut, make your way down to Round Rock Donuts in Round Rock, TX to get a taste of a Texas-Sized Donut. 

These behemoths are roughly the size of a small child and are sure to quelch your craving.

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