In 1998, Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation donated to the Smithsonian Institution a 5-foot contraption which was once America’s most advanced donut maker, “Ring King Jr”. It was Krispy Kreme’s 60th anniversary. However, the Dutch are credited with bringing the now popular breakfast treat to New York under the name of “oylykoeks,” or “oily cakes”. These first doughnuts did not have holes, but were balls of fried dough. Their name evolved into “oliebollen” or “oily balls” which were irregular balls of dough pushed off the end of a spoon into a pot of boiling pork fat.
Elizabeth Gregory, whose son was a New England ship captain, added cinnamon and nutmeg, along with lemon rind to the fried dough. She would send these balls of fried dough with her son on long sea voyages for the crew to eat. She also added hazelnuts and walnuts in the center of the dough, but son Hanson did not like the middle of the fried dough because it was soft and gooey from not cooking all the way through. He came up with the idea of cutting out the center of the doughnut, and thus, doughnuts acquired holes.
During World War I, doughnuts became very popular with American soldiers when women volunteers who were known as “Doughnut Girls” cooked doughnuts to offer with coffee to cheer the American soldiers in France and offer them a taste of home. After the war, American soldiers returned home with a taste for the fried doughnuts that they had eaten on the front lines during the war. When immigrants reached Ellis Island, they were greeted by the Salvation Army with a blanket and a doughnut. During the Depression, doughnuts remained popular because most people could afford the inexpensive doughnut with a cup of coffee.
In 1920, a Russian, Jewish refugee by the name of Adolph Levitt came up with the idea to build a machine that could produce doughnuts much faster. People would stand transfixed watching his doughnut machine churn out 80 dozen doughnuts per hour in his bakery window. They were dusted with sugar and sold to the admiring throng of theatergoers.
In 1937, Vernon Rudolph purchased a recipe from a French chef in New Orleans which was a yeast-raised doughnut, and opened the first Kripsy Kreme factory in North Carolina.
During World War II, American Red Cross volunteers known as Doughnut Dollies served the American soldiers doughnuts and coffee from vehicles known as “Clubmobiles”. Once again, doughnuts became a favorite of American servicemen.
In 1950, Bill Rosenberg opened the first Dunkin’ Donuts in Quincy, Massachusetts. In 1957, Dawn Foods purchased a machine that would produce 2,000 dozen donuts per hour, and in 1966, Dawn patented a machine that would ice both side of the donuts at 1,000 dozen iced donuts hourly.
In 1997, Krispy Kreme’s sales climbed 20%, and Dunkin’ Donuts had stores in twice as many states as Krispy Kreme, and 38 countries. By the end of the twentieth century, 10 billion donuts were being produced yearly in the United States.
Today, we have donut shops everywhere, and the flavors and icings seem to be endless in taste and design. There are donuts of every color, with or without fillings or sprinkles. Take your pick! You are only limited by your own taste buds and of course, your waistline.