I can barely begin to tell you how frustrating National Doughnut Day is for me as someone who’s gluten-intolerant in this town. Gluten-free doughnut recipes don’t cut it, even though I once, full of optimism, bought a doughnut pan.
Really? I have to make them myself? No.
Doughnut shops have exploded all over Richmond — Country Style Donuts, Dixie Doughnuts, Duck Donuts, Krispie Kreme Donuts, Sugar Shack, the Treat Shop RVA and the one that practically makes me cry, Mrs. Yoder’s — on every dang corner.
What is wrong with you people? Haven’t you heard how bad they are for you? Did you know that a doughnut averages around 300-400 calories? Are you aware that you’d have to run for 40 minutes to burn away those insane 400 calories or walk very, very fast for an hour? I don’t want to do either of those things.
And it's spelled doughnut, not donut. So stop it.
The history of the doughnut is maddeningly complicated. Let’s just say they might have been eaten since prehistoric times. And they were originally called olykoeks, oily cakes in Dutch. All of this is according to Smithsonian.com
Doughnuts proper, the article says, were invented in the 19th century by the mother of New England ship captain in order to utilize some of the things her son was transporting — nutmeg, cinnamon and lemons.
Her son claims he was the one to come up with the most important innovation, however, the hole in the middle of the doughnut.
The Smithsonian writes, “Some cynical doughnut historians maintain that Captain Gregory did it to stint on ingredients, others that he thought the hole might make the whole easier to digest. Still others say that he gave the doughnut its shape when, needing to keep both hands on the wheel in a storm, he skewered one of his mom's doughnuts on a spoke of his ship's wheel.”
The doughnut didn’t become popular, however, until World War I, when volunteers brought them to the front lines in France to cheer up the troops. The story doesn’t mention how said volunteers got to the trenches without getting shot.
The next step in the history of doughnuts, and arguably the most important, came in 1920 when New York baker Adolph Levitt invented a machine to automate the doughnut-making process. Without it, the Sugar Shacks and Dixie Donuts of the world never would have gotten started.
The rest is history — and if you’d like to read the rest of that extremely detailed history, here’s a link to the Smithsonian's informative story.
Back to my personal doughnut history: When my oldest daughter was around 2 years old, we stopped at Krispy Kreme on West Broad Street — the “hot” sign was on — and I bought a half-dozen original glazed. I gave one to my daughter and then (it’s hard to talk about) ate four in a row. I was forced to offer the last one to my daughter as a bribe so that she wouldn’t tell her father. And then deal with the consequences of giving a preschooler an enormous amount of sugar that zoomed through her tiny body like rocket fuel and made her act like a deranged — but adorable — wild animal until bedtime.
When my second daughter was around 10 months old, the three of us went to the grocery store. Her older sister immediately had a meltdown — a serious, fling-your-body-on-the-floor while screaming as loudly as only a 3-year-old can. This made her baby sister cry. And I had to buy groceries. We had no food at home. Not even Goldfish.
Desperation inspired an evil thought that turned into something I never would have even considered the first time around when I was a new mother. I gave my baby (and my three-year-old) a doughnut, just so I could get through the store. And immediately ran into that sanctimonious, judgmental mother at every preschool. Years later, her son, at the age of 10, still hadn’t had a french fry. My baby’s face was covered in sugar. I chatted with the perfect mom, pretending that I couldn’t see the itty-bitty hands speedily shoveling fried dough into what had turned into a gaping maw.
I’m a bad mother. I admit it.
But I love doughnuts and I don’t know how I’m going to make it through this day. I really don’t.