Summertime is filled with all sorts of patriotic holidays. But did you know that there was a holiday drenched in patriotism and Americana that is all about the beloved donut? A holiday specifically designed to celebrate donuts? Yes, I said DO-NUTS!!! It’s enough to bring tears of joy to Homer Simpson’s eyes! But like most holidays, there is a little bit more to National Donut Day than meets the eyes. (Or the stomach, as the case may be!)
Everyone knows that the doughnut (or donut) is one of the most longstanding American guilty pleasures. What you might not know is the history that is behind this sweet treat and why the donut could be considered one of the most patriotic pastries. Back during WWI and WWII, Salvation Army, and Red Cross volunteers would hand out donuts and coffee to our war-weary soldiers returning from missions. This small act of altruism not only offered some welcome refreshment to exhausted troops, but in a small way, it also demonstrated gratitude and hope while offering the soldiers a sweet reminiscence of home. Mouth-watering donuts were handed out to the soldiers by assorted groups of female volunteers, women who would become known as the Doughnut Girls or Doughnut Dollies. In spite of other images you may conjure up when you think of the term “doughboy”--the belly-poking image was first used in reference to homesick soldier boys anxiously waiting for the arrival of the beloved Donut Girls and their trays of doughy, glazed pastries.
When these frontline warriors eventually came home, many reminisced and looked back fondly on the tasty donut delivery and the morale building that ensued because of this simple sweet act of kindness. Donuts began to increase in popularity and post-war donut shops popped up all over America. Since this time, the popular donut has long been viewed as one of the most All-American treats.
National Donut Day has been observed annually in the United States on the first Friday of June, this year falling on Friday June the 5th. If ever there was a day to eat, enjoy and indulge in the utter deliciousness of a donut, today would be that day. In some locations, you still may find donuts being passed out for free. If you are lucky enough to have a Krispy Kreme donut shop in your neighborhood, stop on by for a free donut of your choice. Whether you have to pay for your sugary delicacy or not, National Donut Day is a great day to enjoy an All-American favorite indulgence that has become far more than just a yummy traditional custom. Eating a donut just might make you feel a little patriotic.
The Salvation Army played a major role! Watch this thirty second video to learn more.