Friday, June 7, was National Doughnut Day, which is celebrated each year on the first Friday of June. Out of respect for Jim Born, who is not a fan of cops-eating-doughnuts humor, none will be included here.
Okay, so maybe just this one little picture.
Today, the holiday is mostly known for offers of free doughnuts from retailers but that’s not what the day is all about. The holiday was first observed in 1938 as a depression-era fundraiser to honor the 250 Salvation Army “Doughnut Lassies” who were dispatched from the U.S. to Europe during WWI to make pastries for service men. Doughnuts were a no-brainer because they were easy to make. The only supplies the lassies needed were the dough ingredients, grease and an upturned helmet to deep-fry them in. Perhaps that WWI influence is why a couple of my favorite doughnuts are named Bismarck and Pershing.
Soon after the US entrance into World War I in 1917, The Salvation Army sent a fact-finding mission to France. The mission concluded that the needs of US enlisted men could be met by canteens/social centers termed "huts" that could serve baked goods, provide writing supplies and stamps, and provide a clothes-mending service. Typically, six staff members per hut would include four female volunteers who could "mother" the boys.
These huts were established by The Salvation Army in the United States near army training centers. About 250 Salvation Army volunteers went to France. Because of the difficulties of providing freshly baked goods from huts established in abandoned buildings near to the front lines, the two Salvation Army volunteers (Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance) came up with the idea of providing doughnuts. These are reported to have been an "instant hit," and "soon many soldiers were visiting the Salvation Army huts." Margaret Sheldon wrote of one busy day: "Today I made 22 pies, 300 doughnuts, 700 cups of coffee."
Hmmm, I can imagine how the combination of "mothering" and doughnuts would be irresistible to young men far from home...
Back in my college days, I worked in a bakery hawking pastries and scraping sticky bun goo off the floors in order to pay tuition. I know my doughnuts. My favorite is the apple fritter, that dense, crunchy, amoebic-shaped glob of glazed wonderfulness.
Another favorite is the Pershing, a cinnamony-fragrant spiral of heaven topped with maple frosting.
Or the squishy custard-filled Bismarck, topped with maple frosting.
Or the majestic Maple Bar, topped with—what else?—maple frosting. Leave the bacon off mine, thank you very much.
I was going to wax poetic about my favorite L.A. doughnut shops but I think I'll save that for another day. Raised? Cake? Plain? Frosted? What's your favorite doughnut and where can I get one?
10948 Weyburn Avenue, West Los Angeles (Westwood Village)
2918 Sawtelle Boulevard, West Los Angeles (at National Boulevard)