Why National Donut Day Is A Feminist Holiday
12:10 pm, June 1st | by Amy Tennery
And guess what else? You have a woman to thank for making donuts popular in the U.S. Yep, we’re taking credit for this one, too.
Donuts have been floating around North America since colonial times, Wentz explained, when the Dutch called them “oily cakes.” Needless to say, “oily cakes” probably wouldn’t have flied as a product name nowadays (of course “Butterball” turkeys are a thing, so what do I know).
It wasn’t until the mid-1800s when New Englander Elizabeth Gregory gave oily cakes the rebranding they so desperately needed, Wentz explains, when she whipped up a repurposed batch for her seafaring son and his crew. She chocked the things full of spices and — yep — nuts, to help ward of scurvy. (Remember, stuffing your face with donuts? Not gluttonous. You’re fighting off scurvy.) And, because of the nuts (and the dough), she called them “doughnuts.”
But wait, there’s more! Turns out the entire concept of a “National Donut Day” is actually in honor of women. (Stay with me here.)
During WWI, female volunteers baked up donuts and handed them out to soldiers on the front lines, according to a comprehensive history of the holiday from the SF Gate. The women, volunteers with the Salvation Army, were known as “Doughgirls” or, according to The Salvation Army, “Donut Lassies.” I like the second one better.
So, why serve donuts to soldiers? The answer is relatively simple: They were the only super cheap, super easy thing to make that was portable but wasn’t totally gross, according to Salvation Army lore. Volunteers Margaret Sheldon and Helen Purviance decided to fry the donuts in soldiers’ helmets. Ew; but hey, whatever works.
Since there was a severe lack of patriotism surrounding the fried dough industry (obviously), the Salvation Army instituted National Donut Day in honor of the WWI Donut Lassies, beginning in 1938. Yes, National Donut Day is a feminist holiday. Eat a donut, salute the women on the front lines. My heart is swelling with pride. Just like my arteries.
And now, here’s a list of puns I desperately wanted to put in the headline but didn’t:
– The Jane Dough is nuts about Doughnuts!
– Go nuts for The Jane Dough… nuts
– The Jane Dough’s nutty history of women and dough(nuts)
– Doughn’t ya know? The Jane Dough loves doughnuts