Starting June with a Do(ugh)nut… Brooklyn, NYC

I don’t indulge in donuts often… Yet, when National Do(ugh)nut Day rolled around, I was interested enough to research its origins. Ok, ok, it was an excuse to be treated with a sweet… but, I was also heartened by what I’d learned. Not only have I changed my associations with this deep fried doughy round, but the Day is a lovely way to pay tribute to history.

Each year, on the first Friday in June, donuts symbolise the honour bestowed upon The Salvation Army ‘Donut Lassies’ who served the treats to soldiers during World War I. The origins of the National Do(ugh)nut Day date back to the Great Depression in the ’30s, when a fundraiser was held to bring awareness to The Salvation Army’s social service programs.

1917: The Salvation Army’s “Donut Lassies” and their soldiers. ~

The link between The Salvation Army and donuts

When the US entered WW1 in 1917, The Salvation Army set up huts near American training centres to provide soldiers with basic comforts: home cooked meals, writing supplies, stamps, and clothes mending services.

It was in France, near to the front lines, from a hut housed in an abandoned building, that the idea to make donuts was born. Due to limited resources and the difficulties in providing freshly baked goods, two Salvation Army volunteers, Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance, thought to deep fry treats.

In August, 1917, fighting raged near Montiers, France, as soldiers huddled in camp – hungry, weary and drenched by 36 consecutive days of rain. In a tent near the front lines, Salvation Army lassies made donuts by filling a refuge pail with oil, made dough with left over flour and other ingredients on hand, and used a wine bottle as a rolling pin. With a baking powder tin for a cutter end a camphor-ice suck tube for making the holes, donuts were fried – seven at a time – in soldier’s steel helmets on an 18-inch stove. (Later, a seven-pound shell fitted with a one-pound shell was used to cut out the donut holes.)

Rain fell continuously, the water-soaked tent finally collapsed. However, the 100 donuts made that first day were an immediate success. Soon, as many as 500 soldiers stood in muck outside the resurrected tent waiting for the sweet taste of donuts and, before long, 9,000 donuts were being made around the clock. The tent became the first 24-hour donut shop.*source below

Years later, in 1938, Chicago’s Salvation Army held aΒ fundraiser.

Its goal was to help the needy during the Great Depression, and to honor the “Lassies” of WWI, who served doughnuts to soldiers. wikipedia

Since then, National Do(ugh)nut Day has been celebrated annually.

Below, I share a photo of the icing ‘n sprinkle topped fried goodness my sweet husband bought for me this morning. Of all the ‘national days’, this was one of the most heartening stories to learn about; a reason enough to indulge. Enjoy, I say!

NB: Currently trending in the US: Another threat to future Donut Days could be the national drive to eat healthier. Just this week, the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomerg, declared his version of war against obesity by seeking to rein in the size of surgery drinks.

A Dunkin Donuts creation ~ on a corner in Williamsburg, Brooklyn



41 thoughts on “Starting June with a Do(ugh)nut… Brooklyn, NYC

    • Cornelia! The donut was gone in a second πŸ˜‰ It was too easy to eat. The story is such a wonderful one – it makes me want to watch some black and white movies. Do you know, I think there is only one Krispy Kreme left in NYC, at Penn Station. You should grab a donut from the Donut House on El Camino Real in San Clemente. They make a great apple fritter and the lady there is so lovely; she would always give us double the sweets we’d ask for! My husband was in heaven!

  1. Believe it or not, Marina, I don’t that one in S.C. But I will be saturday getting to Penn Station good to know that there is Krispy. I just looked at the weather for next week my N.Y.Trip, it is going to rain almost all week, just being so spoiled living in S.California

    • Cornelia – the rain is a great excuse to do all the museums, shopping, cafe breaks, so when the sun comes out, you’ll be close to Central Park, the High Line, and any other outdoor spots to soak in the rays. The rain can be a good thing – it will ensure a cooler time in NY that has been quite hot and sticky the past few days. I welcome the rain – the city will be clean for your stay! enjoy!

  2. What an awesome tale, Marina. I never knew that! Cheers, Possum! πŸ™‚

    I definitely one of those girls who needs to restrict her donut intake. I can’t remember the last time I had one… (sigh)

  3. Awesome girl!! Funny – I bought a dozen today for staff at work – and was told I was right on the money with National Doughnut Day! I can’t eat doughnuts (my tummy revolts!) but I do love the taste – yours looks so yummy! πŸ™‚

    • That’s so cool! You were right on the money – nice one! I just love the story behind the day – it is so meaningful. That pink donut was gone in less time than I could even remember to count – it’s like air! I love it when things like what happened to you – with buying donuts – actually end up meaning so much more! πŸ™‚ Thanks Shira!

    • It is a good way to ease into June, I agree! Thank you Patricia – I wouldn’t be able to make such a pretty edible creation but I sure could eat it. Enjoy June and I hope you celebrate with a sweet!

  4. Hi Marina, An interesting piece and a geat shot at the end. As for eating healthily? Moderation in all things I think is the key, I’m sure a doughnut every now and then never hurt anyone.. Really nice piece, πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Adrian! I was really heartened to read the history of the day – frying donuts in soldiers helmets? How crazy and genius is that!? Moderation is key – such an easy thing to muck up. Glad you enjoyed this post!

    • Tricia! Did you buy ein Amerikaner (are they the black and white treats)? I loved this story, and am glad you took a read. There’s always something new to learn – stories like this make those fun facts addictive! Thanks!

  5. Another great post Marina. I didn’t know the States had a doughnut day. Like the images you took, nice light for it.
    I particularly cannot eat doughnuts, but I believe that eating everything in small portions and making healthy food more affordable might also help with the obesity problem.

    • Thanks Alicia – I actually didn’t really pay attention to it until this year myself and what a great story behind it. Thanks for your comment about the photo – it was the morning light that helped me out πŸ™‚ Moderation is key but accessible healthy food is important to have too; education is so vital especially where prepackaged goods rule the shelves. It’s sad to see an aisle dedicated to sugary cereals 😦 Jamie Oliver is doing good things πŸ™‚

  6. Interesting story – I actually just heard about National Donut Day on a few FB posts and thought they were kidding! It’s nice to learn the history behind it – thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    • Hi Jennifer! I understand – I didn’t realise its significance until yesterday! So glad to have shared – the story make my day! Glad you know now for 2013! Thanks πŸ™‚

  7. Interesting info about donuts. The one in your photo is “pretty in pink!” I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I don’t usually eat donuts or other sweets.

  8. I had no idea πŸ™‚ That really is a moving story! They deep fried doughnuts in solders helmets… aww that’s creativity πŸ™‚ I don’t really like glazed doughnuts, but yours looks delightful! πŸ™‚

    • Hi Kristina! That was such a neat fact about the soldiers’ helmets I thought! Happy to have shared the story – such a great one behind an excuse to eat a pink iced fried treat πŸ™‚ Thank you!

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