Those looking for an excuse to indulge in some delicious donuts will be thrilled to know that June 3, 2022, is National Donut Day. This makes it your civic duty to eat at least one — or even a dozen — of the sugary treats. The yummy holiday, observed annually on the first Friday of June, is credited to the Salvation Army.
The nonprofit’s association with donuts began in 1917 when four female volunteers arrived in France to tend to injured World War I soldiers. To lift their spirits, Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance used the few available ingredients — flour, sugar, lard, baking powder, cinnamon, and canned milk — to make donuts.
With no rolling pins or frying pans to be found, the volunteers had to get creative. They flattened the dough by hand and cooked the donuts — seven at a time — inside a soldier’s helmet. The women worked well into the night, producing one hundred and fifty donuts the first night and three hundred the next. The mouthwatering aroma of the fresh donuts brought much-needed cheer to the soldiers, who would patiently wait for hours in cold and damp weather to obtain their treat.
Once fully equipped, the “Donut Lassies,” as they were later called, dished out as many as 9,000 donuts a day! The fried dessert became a symbol of the Salvation Army’s efforts to ease the hardships of American troops. It was also used to comfort frontline soldiers during World War II (1939-1945) and the Vietnam War (1955-1975).
In 1938, the Chicago chapter of the Salvation Army set aside a day to sell donuts — made using the original WWI recipe — to the general public. The nonprofit wanted to raise much-needed funds for the poor during the Great Depression. The event was so popular that it became an annual event, and National Donut Day was born. Many donut retailers participate in the celebrations by handing out free or discounted treats. Krispy Kreme usually gives one free donut to every customer that walks into the store, while Dunkin’ Donuts does the same with the purchase of a beverage.
National Donut Day is not the only holiday dedicated to the dessert. Fans of the fried treat will also celebrate National Jelly-Filled Donut Day on June 8, National Cream-Filled Donut Day on September 14, and National Donut Appreciation Day on November 5! Given all these excuses to eat the yummy treat, it is no surprise that Americans consume 10 billion donuts — about 31 donuts per person — annually!
While donuts are an American tradition, similar sweets can be found worldwide. Indians enjoy a spiral, sugar syrup-soaked treat called jalebi, while Tunisians devour honey-smothered fried pastries called yoyos. Indonesia’s donut kentang is made using mashed potatoes and coated with powdered sugar. The bottom line? You can celebrate the holiday no matter where you live!