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Doughnuts, World War I and The Great Depression

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Doughnuts, World War I and The Great Depression

Sam Milbrath
By Sam Milbrath
May 28, 2018

First off, Happy National Doughnut Day!

Hopefully, you’re celebrating today the modern way, chewing on a free and delicious doughy treat covered in chocolate, sprinkles or some combination of mouth-watering flavours. These holy treats have been raising spirits and signifying happier times for a very long time. Since World War I, to be exact.

Before we share our favourite donut flavours (and who makes them and where), let’s chew on the historical meaning of June 1st and National Doughnut Day. Trust me, this part of the historical day should not be overlooked—just like jam-filled and sugar-coated doughnuts.

World War I and Doughnut Lassies

Doughnut Day

Yes, WWI and doughnuts go hand-in-mouth, surprisingly. So back when soldiers were fighting in trench warfare in France during World War I, morale was low (as you can imagine). And then in 1917, The Salvation Army started a spiritual and emotional support mission for U.S. soldiers overseas. They sent 250 volunteers to France to hand out clothing, supplies and, you got it, baked goods from tents near the front lines.

Two entrepreneurial women realized that baking goods was too difficult where they were and with limited rations, so they began frying the baked goods (aka doughnuts) in soldiers’ helmets. This, of course, caught on and the volunteers became known as the “Doughnut Lassies” who helped raise morale and happiness with these deep fried sweet treats and coffee. If nothing else, the doughnuts reminded soldiers of home.

The Doughnut Lassies were largely responsible for doughnuts becoming so popular in America after the war. Plus, returning soldiers were nicknamed “doughboys”, which is probably where Pillsbury picked up the name.

The Great Depression and National Doughnut Day

Doughnut Day

And just when the world needed another big morale boost with the dirty thirties and the Great Depression, The Salvation Army started National Doughnut Day in 1938 in Chicago. This helped raise funds for the charity and bring awareness to its social service programs.

Take a moment today to consider the historical impact of the seemingly insignificant sweet ball of deep-fried dough and sprinkles of joy.

My question to you is: Where are you going to celebrate? What kind of doughboy (or girl) are you?

Also, we can help you find some of the best doughnuts in your town. If you want to celebrate with your whole team—or office—go to your city’s Foodee page and select the “dietary and cuisine filters” to find the best doughnut shops in your hood.

Sam Milbrath

About Sam

Sam Milbrath is a freelance copywriter and brand marketer. When she isn’t writing for brands or doing her own creative writing, she's exploring, taking photographs, gardening and doing pottery. Check out her work at www.sammilbrath.com

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