If you are a fan of those warm gooey fried rings of dough that we lovingly call donuts, you are in luck. That's because Friday, June 7th happens to be National Donut Day, which means that you have a great excuse to chow down one or even a dozen!

Celebrated on the first Friday of June every year, this American 'holiday' is surprisingly not a marketing ploy created by the big donut companies but a tradition that dates all the way back to 1917, when Salvation Army volunteers or 'donut lassies' as they were later called, were sent to take care of US soldiers fighting in World War One. Seeing how homesick and miserable the soldiers were in the foul weather, the women decided to do something special. While resources were limited, they did have the simple ingredients needed for donuts - flour, sugar and oil. Sure enough, the hot tempting smell of fresh donuts worked like a charm in lifting their spirits! In 1938, when the country was undergoing a severe economic depression, the Chicago branch of the charity decided to use a similar technique to raise much needed funds.

Since then, it has become a revered US tradition, one that is celebrated by simply devouring one or more of the gooey treats! What's even better is that Dunkin Donuts, Krispy Kreme and even some neighborhood stores, have joined in this fun tradition by handing out free donuts to customers during the entire day.

Don't like donuts? No worries! Get into the charity spirit by selling donuts to your friends and neighbors and donating the proceeds to your local Salvation Army. After all, it is thanks to their ingenious idea that we have this yummy holiday!

Though the history of the modern donut is a little sketchy, it is believed that it was the Dutch that first introduced the treat to the US in the 1800s with their Olykoeks or oily cakes. What is surprising however, is that it is not the US but neighboring Canada that boasts the most donut shops per capita. Having said that, Americans do consume over 10 billion and spend almost $3.6 billion USD on these yummy treats, annually!

While donuts are largely an American tradition, many countries around the world have a donut-like treat that they enjoy. In the horn of Africa (Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea), the ball-shaped Lagayamats are fried and covered with powdered sugar, while the Tunisian Yo-Yo's, are smothered in honey or even sesame seeds. India has a savory version called Vada, while Indonesians make their Donut Kentang with mashed potatoes and flour and . . . . . . . the list goes on and on. The bottom line is, you can celebrate this fun American tradition, no matter where you live.

Happy Donut Day!