Donuts and History, Records and Fun Facts! - Schaumburg Specialties
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Donuts and History, Records and Fun Facts!

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The History

All fun facts must start with a history. The history of doughnuts is slightly unclear, but there are some things we do know about this tasty little pastry.

Modern doughnuts made their way to America back when Manhattan was called New Amsterdam. The Dutch introduced them as olykoeks, which literally means “oily cakes.” This appearance happened in the early 18th century and by the 19th century, doughnuts were viewed as an American food and looked more like the doughnuts we are used to today.

A doughnut history from Smithsonian.com takes a closer look at how we got the modern doughnuts we are used to today.

A sailor named Hanson Gregory claimed to be the inventor of the ringed doughnut shape. Gregory’s mother, Elizabeth Gregory, would make her son tasty treats of deep-fried dough, flavored with nutmeg and cinnamon, for his voyages.

Legend has it that Mrs. Gregory would put hazelnuts or walnuts in the center, where the dough did not cook through. Perhaps this is where they got the name “doughnuts.”

There are many thoughts as to how Captain Gregory put the holes in the doughnut. Some though that he did so to stint on ingredients and others figured that he thought the hole would help make them easier to digest. Our personal favorite is that at some point he needed two hands on the ship’s wheel, so he punctured the doughnut with the spoke of the wheel, leaving a hole. Captain Gregory put an end to the rumors, 50 years later, in an interview with the Boston Post, stating that he used the top of a round tin pepper box to cut a hole in the middle of the doughnut! And there you have it, the creation of the modern day doughnut!

Doughnuts and War

We can look further into the future and learn more about National Doughnut Day, the one in June. By the way, be sure you are prepared for National Doughnut Day with our doughnut bakery racks!

It all started with World War I and the Salvation Army, when “Donut Girls” or “Donut Lassies” were born.

During WWI and WWII, these ladies served along the front line with the soldiers, offering them doughnuts and coffee. National Doughnut Day was started in Chicago in 1938 to home the Salvation Army Donut Girls, and to this day it is celebrated as an unofficial holiday on the first Friday in June.

When the Salvation Army started in 1917 as a way to help support the U.S soldiers, as well as to raise funds and awareness of the organization's work, they sent 250 volunteers overseas to set up huts and hand out clothes, supplies, and baked goods to soldiers.

They soon discovered that serving baked goods was difficult due to the condition of the huts and limited rations. That is when Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance started to fry doughnuts in soldiers’ helmets, which fit seven doughnuts at a time. The women who served doughnuts to soldiers were given credit for popularizing doughnuts in the U.S. when the troops, who were nicknamed “doughboys” returned home.

Donut Leave Before Reading These Facts! Enough with the history. While doughnuts do have a fascinating past, there are many other fun facts about doughnuts that will help you wake up every morning excited to start your doughnut baking routine!

A Few World Records

  • There are world records for everything, including doughnut weight and doughnut eating. A Guinness World Record for the fastest time to eat a jelly-filled doughnut is one of those records, the time to beat being 33 seconds.
  • Shamus Petherick, an Australian man, set a record for eating the most powdered doughnuts in three minutes, being six powdery treats.
  • Krispy Kreme holds a world record for largest box of doughnuts, weighing 297 pounds 10 ounces. The box was 19 feet 4 inches long, 13 feet 5 inches wide, and 2 feet 10 inches deep. This giant box was an exact replica of the actual Krispy Kreme doughnut boxes and was filled with 2,700 doughnuts.
  • In 1981, John Haight set the world record for doughnut eating when he ate 29 doughnuts in just over six minutes.

More Fun Facts

As of 2011, ten people in the U.S. were lucky enough to have the last name of Doughnut or Donut. While they may have changed their last name to Doughnut, it makes it obvious that they have a strange but understandable connection to these tasty pastries.

Donut was also recorded as 13 people's first names, they are likely the people who are in doughnut shops on a daily basis.

Boston has the most doughnut shops per person per. With 250 doughnut shops total, there is one for every 2,480 people.

While Canada produces way fewer doughnuts than the United States, they have the most doughnut shops per capita than any other country!