Today is National Doughnut Day, also known as National Donut Day, celebrated in the U.S. on the first Friday of June.
In 1938, the Chicago chapter of the Salvation Army, an international charitable organization, held the first Doughnut Day event to raise funds for the needy during the Great Depression while honoring the women who had served doughnuts to soldiers in World War I.
After the U.S. entered the war in 1917, the Salvation Army conducted a fact-finding mission to France and concluded that American enlisted men would benefit from baked goods, writing paper and mending services provided by canteens (called “huts”) set up in nearby abandoned buildings. Four of the six staff assigned to each hut were women, to help “mother” the men.
The reconnaissance team had failed to consider the difficulty of baking under those conditions. A couple of the 250 volunteers came up with the idea of frying doughnuts, which would eliminate the need for ovens. They were a big hit. Soon the soldiers began to refer to the women as “Doughnut Girls.”
While National Doughnut Day’s origin is all but forgotten, bakeries across the nation carry on the tradition by offering a free doughnut to customers today. Some places like Dunkin’ Donuts offer a free doughnut with the purchase of a drink which is, of course, not free at all, but who’s going to complain? It’s still an excuse to have a doughnut!
Happy National Doughnut Day!