We might have been a little glib in our assertion that National Donut Day, which always takes place the first Friday in June, is just another ‘fake’ food holiday. Look, when you’re constantly faced with National Pancake Day, National Raisin Day and National Baked Ham with Pineapple Day, sometimes they all just seem to blend together. But as it turns out, National Donut Day is something worth celebrating.
The first National Donut Day was established by the Chicago branch of the Salvation Army in 1938 as a fundraiser during the Great Depression. More than just a bake sale, it also served the commemorate the work of the Donut Lassies, a group of women who provided baked goods to soldiers fighting in France during World War I.
- Jelly Doughnut Oreos Are Here Just in Time for National Doughnut Day
- This Is the Reason Doughnut Boxes Are (Usually) Pink
- Here's Why Doughnuts Are Associated With Police Officers
At the onset of the American involvement on the front lines, the Salvation Army sought to provide spiritual and emotional support for the soldiers. Part of the organization's team of 250 volunteers (that also provided clothing and other supplies) were two female S.A. officers, Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance. The women used the limited rations they had to fry up doughnuts for the troops, making do with condensed milk cans, baking powder lids and other items on hand to cut the holes in the pastries. At their peak, the Lassies made and delivered up to 9,000 doughnuts per day. As with many wartime foods (like Hershey bars and SPAM in WWII) the work of the Donut Lassies likely did a lot of popularize doughnuts in America after the war when the Doughboys returned home.