The History of the Doughnut

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Almost everyone from coast to coast has munched on a doughnut for breakfast at least once. Whether you spell it doughnut or donut, the pastry with the unique shape has quite the history.

In ancient Rome and Greece, cooks would fry up strips of pastry dough, coated with honey or fish sauce – very different from what doughnuts are currently fried in. Better known as the early version of fritters, they spread into northern Europe becoming popular in Germany, the Netherlands and England during the 1400s. The Dutch brought the pastry to the United States under the name olykoeks, literally translated to “oily cakes.”

But the invention of the doughnut with a hole in the center can be attributed to Captain Hanson Gregory, a Dutch sailor. His mother Elizabeth was known to make wicked deep-fried pastries full of nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon rind, and like any loving mother, she packed him a bunch of donuts for the journey across the Atlantic to the New World.

How Captain Gregory gave the donut the classic shape revolves around a legend. Supposedly the captain was eating a pastry when he suddenly had to grab the steering wheel of the ship with both hands. He then skewed it on one of the spokes of the wheel so that he could enjoy it once the seas calmed down.

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The first doughnut machine was actually created by a Jewish refugee from Russia in New York City in 1920. Adolph Levitt invented a gadget that churned out the rings rather quickly, and the doughnuts were labeled the “Hit Food of the Century of Progress” at the 1934 Chicago World’s Fair. The popularity of the machine skyrocketed Levitt to stardom, earning him $25 million a year at it’s peak.

National Doughnut Day, celebrated the first Friday in June, began in 1938 as a fundraiser for Chicago’s Salvation Army. Their goal was to help those in need during the Great Depression. To this day, National Doughnut Day is a still a fundraiser for the Salvation Army in Chicago.

Since then, doughnuts have taken all forms from matcha flavor, to bacon-topped, to formed out of sushi, or even made out of spaghetti. Our doughnuts at Goldenrod are gluten-free and are a standard vanilla cake doughnut and oh my are they amazing! Next time you stop by, make sure you pick one up!

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