What’s the Deal With Donut Day, and Why Is It so Misunderstood?

BY Petr Svab TIMEJune 5, 2015 PRINT

It’s National Donut Day everyone! But before one stuffs one’s face unconscious with the circular delights, it may be a good idea to check out why is it a thing anyway. You may just save yourself some tummy ache and perhaps even save a life in the process.

It was a grim year of 1917 and the United States just entered World War I. To support the troops battling in France, the Salvation Army sent hundreds of volunteers to provide writing supplies, stamps, clothes-mending services, and some fresh bakery.

Yet how to make fresh pastries in a hurry on the frontline? Well, you just take an army helmet, fill it with oil, heat it up on fire, and throw the dough right in. Voilà, a doughnut is born! And that’s basically what the Salvation Army volunteers did—needless to say it was greatly appreciated by the soldiers, who dubbed the, mostly female, volunteers “donut lassies.”

To remember this great act of bravery, sacrifice, and gastronomical ingenuity, the Salvation Army propagated the National Doughnut Day on every first Friday in June since 1938 as a fundraising event to feed the needy during the Great Depression.

So now you know.

And although there are ways to squeeze a free donut out of the holiday by buying a drink at Dunkin’ Donuts or just by visiting Krispy Kreme, it may be more in line with the real spirit of National Donut Day to share the tasty treat today with a person less fortunate.

Petr Svab
Petr Svab is a reporter covering New York. Previously, he covered national topics including politics, economy, education, and law enforcement.
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