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To say that Americans love donuts is an understatement. A 2017 survey conducted by Dawn Foods, a global manufacturer and ingredients supplier to bakeries worldwide, found that the average US resident eats 31 donuts a year — or about two or three a month. The consumption, of course, goes up exponentially on National Donut Day, which this year will be celebrated on June 7, 2019!
The history of the holiday, observed annually on the first Friday of June, can be traced to Salvation Army workers who went to assist US troops during World War I (WWI). When the "Donut Girls," as they were later called, arrived in France in 1917, they found the soldiers were miserable and homesick. To try to cheer them up, Salvation Army Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance used the limited ingredients available – flour, sugar, and oil – to fry up some donuts.
As the mouthwatering aroma spread through the camps, hundreds of army men began to line up outside the "service hut" to obtain the special treat that reminded them of home. Though the Donut Girls only managed to make 150 donuts on the first day, they became increasingly efficient and were soon distributing as many as 9,000 donuts daily. Sheldon even managed to convince a French blacksmith to design a makeshift donut cutter, using the top of a condensed milk can, to fulfill the request of a soldier seeking “a donut with a hole in it,” Soon, the treat became synonymous with the non-profit organization and American WWI veterans, who were nicknamed “doughboys.”
In 1938, during the Great Depression, the Salvation Army's Chicago chapter revived the donut-making tradition to provide much-needed cheer, and to raise funds for people in need. The single-day event was so successful that National Donut Day became an annual American tradition. Today, many Salvation Army chapters around the country celebrate the occasion by feeding those in need and handing out free donuts, made using the original WWI recipe.
Donut manufacturers also use the day to thank their patrons by handing out free or discounted treats. Krispy Kreme, which has been one of the pioneers in giving out free donuts to all customers that walk into their stores on National Donut Day, has upped the ante this year by challenging US residents to claim one million free donuts on June 7. In return, Krispy Kreme will give them a free taste of its new "out of this world” donut flavor, scheduled for release in late June.
“June 7 is National Doughnut Day and National VCR Day. So, take your pick: a free Krispy Kreme doughnut or a grainy VHS tape,” says Dave Skena, Chief Marketing Officer for Krispy Kreme. “If a million of you wisely choose Krispy Kreme, we’ll celebrate by giving away more doughnuts later in June.”
The company also announced plans to transform the national holiday into "World Donut Day," with special promotions, deals, and giveaways at their stores in more than 20 countries worldwide.
Denver, Colorado-based LaMar's Donuts will also be handing out complimentary donuts, while those that stop in at Dunkin' donuts will receive a free sweet with the purchase of a beverage. Though Canadian cafe chain Tim Hortons will not be giving out freebies, the company has announced plans to introduce its popular churro-inspired Honey Cruller Donut at many of its US locations on National Donut Day. Many grocery stores, such as Kroger or Stop and Shop, also plan to celebrate the fun tradition by selling the treats at a steep discount. So regardless of where you live, a free, or really cheap, donut will be within reach on June 7. Be sure to take advantage of the celebration by grabbing one, or even a dozen, of the scrumptious fried treats!
Happy National Donut Day!
Resources: salvationarmy.org, wikipedia.org,today.com