The first Friday in June is National Doughnut (or Donut) Day.
National Doughnut Day has been around since 1938, when the Salvation Army started the holiday as a fundraiser and to increase awareness for its programs. The holiday’s origins, however, go back to 1917.
During World War I, female Salvation Army volunteers — “donut lassies” — gave doughnuts to American Soldiers in France.
According to The Salvation Army Metropolitan Division in Chicago, “With limited resources, these treats were fried, only seven at a time. The Salvation Army’s Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance cleverly thought of frying donuts in soldiers’ helmets.”
It was a morale-boosting effort. While the “lassies” also mended clothes, cooked and provided the soldiers with writing supplies and stamps, the doughnuts apparently made the biggest impact. How do I know this? Well, today isn’t letter-writing or sock-darning day, now is it?
So, in honor of this great holiday (and because we really like doughnuts) my sister, Theresa, and I went out today in search of free doughnuts.
First, we went to Lynchburg’s Old City Cemetery, where volunteers were handing out tasty Chestnut Hill Bakery doughnuts and coffee at the Station House Museum. The circa-1898 C&O Railway station house was originally located in the Amherst County, Virginia, community of Stapleton.
The station house was dismantled and moved to the cemetery in 1999. It was reconstructed in 2001. Today, its interior is decorated with a World War I theme — perfect for a holiday commemorating good deeds from the Great War.
The next place Theresa and I found free doughnuts was at Mama Crockett’s. The guys at Mama Crockett’s operate out of a turquoise blue camper trailer. The trailer is often parked on Lynchburg’s Main Street, but also can be found at other Lynchburg-area locations, including the popular Food Truck Thursdays at Miller Park.
Mama Crockett’s specializes in apple cider doughnuts. They are fresh, hot and to die for, and today they were free. Can’t beat that.
Also, in case you’re wondering, is it “doughnut” or “donut”? The Grammarist has this to say:
The dictionary-approved spelling for the ring-shaped cake made of dough and fried in fat is doughnut. The shortened donut has been around since the late 1800s, but it wasn’t popularized until the late 20th century, when the successful American doughnut chain Dunkin’ Donuts made it ubiquitous. Today, writers outside the U.S. still favor doughnut by a wide margin. Donut appears about a third of the time in published American writing.
I like the long version. Happy Doughnut Day!