There seems to be a “national day” for everything. Burgers! Oreos! Cheesecake! Hot Dogs! You name it… there’s probably a day for it.
Usually, the days are nothing more than marketing ploys to drum up business. What’s better for a brand than free social media advertising? Sometimes, however, there’s a bit of meaning and history to be had. National Donut Day falls on the first Friday of June, and to my surprise, it’s more than just a day to snag a free Krispy Kreme!
(Note: the relevant sources used the spelling “donut” as oppose to “doughnut”, so I followed suit.)
Let’s take it back to 1917…..
WW1 was in full swing, and the first batch of American troops had just arrived in France. Accompanying the 14,000 soldiers were 250 Salvation Army volunteers. These volunteers, mostly women, provided the soldiers with things like clothes, stamps, religious services, music performances, and plenty of baked goods.
With limited rations, the women had to get creative when whipping up tasty treats. Margaret Sheldon and Helen Purviance cooked up the brilliant idea of making donuts. Donuts don’t involve too many ingredients, are easy to serve, and were the perfect taste of home. But how would they fry them? Helmets! The women filled up helmets with lard, then fried up the dough to crispy, gooey perfection.
The donuts were a total hit, and voila, the “Donut Lassies” were born!
The Donut Lassies became famous for giving soldiers (AKA doughboys) comforting baked treats and plenty of emotional support to help them battle through. The troops’ taste for donuts returned to the USA with them, and donuts have been booming in popularity ever since.
Once the war ended, the legacy of the Donut Lassies lived on as the Salvation Army continued the tradition of serving up donuts in times of crisis and despair. Nothing brightens up a day quite like a donut, after all. In 1938, the Salvation Army in Chicago officially celebrated the first Donut Day in honor of the Donut Lassies, and the tradition has been going strong ever since.
The meaning of Donut Day has shifted away from the Donut Lassies and towards marketing and consumerism, as evident in the fact that donut shops here in Australia are getting in on the action.
But now you, my frugal reader, are armed with knowledge of the real meaning behind Donut Day! Go forth, be frugal, and enjoy a donut!
Hungry for more on donuts? Check out these posts!:
If you love donuts, then you can’t miss this post on our quest to find the best donut in Hobart, Tasmania.
Are fancy doughnuts worth the price tag? We took a bite out of some Doughnut Plant treats, and this is what we though.