12 Things You Never Knew About Doughnuts

Here are some facts about doughnuts to fill in the holes in your knowledge and help you ring in National Doughnut Day.

Here’s what we can all agree on about doughnuts: They’re delicious, the perfect morning-coffee companion. But most of us don’t know a whole lot more about our favorite fried-dough treat than that. So, to fill in the holes in your doughnut knowledge, we present to you these facts about doughnuts to sprinkle like sugar into your conversation on National Doughnut Day (June 2) and help you ring in the holiday.

1: Doughnuts — loosely defined — are believed to have existed way back to prehistoric times, but doughnuts more or less as we know them today are said to have been brought to what would become Manhattan when it was still New Amsterdam. They were not terribly appealingly known as olykoeks — “oily cakes.”

2: Many accounts credit Elizabeth Gregory, the mother of a mid-19th-century New England ship captain, with creating the first doughnut with a hole in the middle — and for giving the doughnut its name. According to one account, Gregory put hazelnuts or walnuts in the center of deep-fried dough to fill in where the dough was unlikely to cook through. Another version claims Gregory’s son, the captain, created the hole by spiking a doughnut on the ship wheel when he needed both hands to steer during a storm.

3: Doughnuts hit the popularity big-time during WWI, when volunteers served them to United States soldiers while they were fighting on the front lines and then, subsequently, returned home with a taste for them.

4: A Russian immigrant named Adolph Levitt invented the first doughnut machine in 1920, using it to make the doughnuts at his bakery in New York City.

5: Automatically produced doughnuts were highly popular at the 1934 World’s Fair, in Chicago. A poster touted them as “the food hit of the Century of Progress.”

6: The Entenmann’s brothers, William, Robert and Charles, and mother, Martha, invented the familiar “see-through” cake box for baked goods in 1959. They believed people were more inclined to buy what they could see.

7: In 1996, the New York Times declared that “no profession is as closely identified with a food as police work is with doughnuts” and posited that, because so many police officers hang out in doughnut shops, they “have one of the lowest rates of robbery of any type of retail business.”

8: Today, Entenmann’s doughnut bakery in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is the largest doughnut bakery in the United States.

9: Entenmann’s — which churns out 100,000 doughnuts every hour, 15 million every week, 780 million every year — has made more than 4 billion doughnuts. That’s enough to circle Earth nearly nine times, if you laid them end to end.

10: At the Grand Canyon’s narrowest point — about 4 miles wide — you would need to put 253,440 doughnuts on a string to reach the other side.

11: It would take 3,660 doughnuts to reach the top of the Statue of Liberty.

12: More than 55 million donuts would be needed to reach across the U.S. from Long Beach, California, to Long Island, New York.

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Photo courtesy of Entenmann’s

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