What's better than the school year drawing to a close? How about a National Donut Day, which believe it or not, happens to be tomorrow, Friday, June 5th! Given that the only way to celebrate this all-important occasion is to eat donuts, you really have no choice but to devour one (or even a dozen) of the gooey treats.
This All-American tradition can be traced back to World War 1, when Salvation Army volunteers or 'donut lassies' as they were later called, were dispatched to help injured US soldiers. The women noticed that the servicemen were extremely homesick and decided to try to lift their spirits with a special treat. Since they had only basic supplies like flour, sugar, and oil at their disposal, they settled on donuts. Not surprisingly, the sugary rings were a big hit!
In 1938, when the country was undergoing a severe recession, Salvation Army Volunteers from Chicago decided to use the same tactic to lift the spirits of the American people and raise some much-needed funds. The event was so successful that it became an annual tradition, not just in Chicago, but also other cities across the United States. Soon, the first Friday of June became known as National Donut Day.
Though donut lassies have since disappeared, many national donut chains have joined in the celebration by handing out free treats to any customer that walks through the door. While some like Dunkin Donuts and Tim Horton's only give them to patrons that buy a drink, Krispy Kreme and Lamar's donuts require no purchase. Many neighborhood donut stores also run special promotions.
Donuts are believed to have been introduced to the US in the 1800s by Dutch immigrants who made a similar treat called Olykoeks or oily cakes. While donuts, as we recognize them, are an American tradition, many countries around the world have similar treats. The residents of the African nations of Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea are known to enjoy Lagayamats - fried ball-shaped treats covered in powdered sugar. Residents of India prefer a savory version called vada. And then there is Tunisia's Yo-Yo's that are smothered in honey and sesame seeds and Indonesia's Donut Kentang that are made with mashed potatoes and flour! The bottom line is, you can celebrate National Donut Day no matter where you live!