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Whether it’s a glazed doughnut, an old-fashioned, or a cruller, Americans love their doughnuts, and National Doughnut Day is the sweetest day of the year for doughnut lovers around the country. Every year on the first Friday in June, doughnut shops nationwide offer a free doughnut to customers who stop in, giving them reason to cheat on their diets or splurge on a cup of coffee.
Not just a randomly designated holiday, National Doughnut Day has patriotic roots. It began during World War I when the Salvation Army sent officers overseas to Europe to comfort homesick troops. The volunteers held conversations with them and helped them write letters home. According to Salvation Army spokesman Ron Busroe, they did not have much, but what they did have was flour, lard and sugar. They figured out how to use what they had to make doughnuts and served them on the front lines. “It brought a sense of calm and a bit of home into the chaos of war,” said Busroe.
National Doughnut Day began in Chicago in 1938. It was established by the Salvation Army and has been a day for people across the country to enjoy the sweet baked treats. The ladies who volunteered with the Salvation Army to serve the soldiers doughnuts on the frontlines during WWI became known as “doughnut girls,” and during World War II they returned to the battlefield to serve doughnuts once again. The day is a celebration of the ladies who served sweet treats, and the organization which made it possible.
Several national doughnut chains provide doughnut specials, which help National Doughnut Day remain the sweetest day of the year. Some shops offer a free confection with no purchase necessary, others require a purchase before offering any handouts, still others only provide one type of doughnut for free while others allow customers to select from a variety of doughnuts on their menus. Krispy Kreme, a favorite of doughnut connoisseurs of all ages and sizes, celebrates the sweetest day of the year by handing out one free doughnut without requiring a purchase, while Dunkin Donuts offers a free doughnut with any beverage purchase. Each doughnut establishment has its own rules for how customers can receive a free donut.
Independently owned shops and restaurants also participate in the free pastry day and offer doughnut flavors not available anywhere else. M&M Donuts, located in Anaheim, CA is open all night and features a blueberry doughnut, covered in rich icing. In Downtown Los Angeles, Nickel Diner offers a variety of donuts including the maple bacon doughnut, and in Westwood, CA, Stan’s Donuts is home to a peanut butter cup doughnut.
Although the sweetest day of the year, National Doughnut Day, is a United States holiday the doughnut may not have originated in America. It is unclear whether the tasty pastry originated in France, Russia, the Netherlands or some other country. Regardless of its country of origin, the doughnut has a special place in the hearts of Americans, and National Doughnut Day remains the sweetest day of the year.
By Brandi M. Fleeks