Free Book Friday: The History of National Doughnut Day and the Evolution of the Pastry

Free Book Friday: The History of National Doughnut Day and the Evolution of the Pastry

Today’s Free Book Friday coincides with one of the tastier, albeit more obscure, national holidays in America.  Read on to learn more about National Doughnut Day, and then enter to win our latest food history book (which features a delicious doughnut recipe, among others). Comment on this post by Sunday, June 3 (12 a.m. EST) for your chance to win, and happy reading/eating!


WWI "donut lassie" of the Salvation Army

In 1938, National Doughnut Day was created by the Salvation Army to raise money for the Great Depression-era needy, as well as to honor women (i.e. “donut lassies”) who served doughnuts to homesick soldiers during World War I.

Today, the celebrations have evolved into a myriad of sticky freebies, waist-expanding statistics and philanthropic activities.

In honor of the 75th annual Doughnut Day, Entenmann’s Donuts is unveiling its largest box of doughnuts ever created in Madison Square Park and donating $25,000 to the Salvation Army–not to mention offering the chance to win free doughnuts for a year.

Doughnuts have a long tradition in Connecticut households, though today we usually pick them up from the local bakery.

Continuing the holiday’s tradition of service, cops in Glenview, Illinois, are standing on the roofs of Dunkin’ Donuts shops and fulfilling the cops-love-doughnuts stereotype. But their antics go beyond just a few laughs and full bellies as they plan to raise money for the Illinois Special Olympics.

So, doughnuts have uniquely brought communities together…which has led the authors of the newly released Connecticut Food to take an interest in the pastry’s history and evolution:

Sweet rolls for breakfast with coffee or tea first came into fashion at the end of the 1600s and never went out. In her father’s Autobiography, a letter from Catharine Beecher mentions that on the occasion of the “wood-spell,” when parishioners would bring the pastor sled loads of wood, “doughnuts and loaf-cake, cider and flip” were served.

Harriet Beecher Stowe’s worldwide success as a novelist led to collaboration with her sister, Catharine, who far surpassed her in contributions to food and domestic affairs.

Early recipes for doughnuts include “holy pokes,” made with thin pieces of set bread dough, dropped into hot fat and browned on both sides. They were served with hot butter and maple syrup. “Crullers” were made with five cups flour, one cup butter, two cups sugar, a spoonful of rosewater and nutmeg. Putney resident Mary Etta Beach’s recipe for crullers used milk and eggs rather than butter. The main difference among doughnut recipes seems whether to use eggs or not […]

Connecticut Food authors Eric D. Lehman and Amy Nawrocki open the mind and the mouth as they discuss the history of breakfast for dessert, as well as other mouth-watering, regional food traditions.

We hope you enjoy this free excerpt (it includes several recipes!) and the holiday.  See you on Monday!

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  1. avatar Stephanie says:

    Very interesting information in the post! Will have to try the doughnut recipe.

  2. avatar Marilyn B. says:

    Dessert for breakfast is the best! I would enjoy reading this, and trying the donut recipes. In the North some folks put sharp cheddar cheese on their pie. That’s a little different if you ask me, but pie for breakfast is fun!

  3. avatar Judy W. says:

    I love doughnuts!

  4. avatar Linda says:

    A favorite fall memory is visiting an Upstate NY apple orchard with my parents and enjoying cake donuts and REAL cider. We need a history of cider next!

  5. Certainly some fresh insight into the history of National Donut Day I was not aware of!

  6. avatar Marion says:

    Recently purchased the Southern cooking book and am thoroughly enjoying it. Would guess this one is equally as interesting. Love the combination of history and recipes!

  7. avatar History Press says:

    Congrats to Benjamin F. for winning this week’s giveaway! Thanks to everyone else for participating, and we hope you’ll read more at

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