One often wonders how certain “days” came about. Today is National Doughnut Day which started in 1938 as a fund raiser for the Chicago Salvation Army.
Their goal was to help the needy during the Great Depression, and to honor the Salvation Army “Lassies” of World War I, who served doughnuts to soldiers.
Soon after the US entered World War I in 1917, the Salvation Army sent a fact-finding mission to France. The mission concluded that “huts” that could serve baked goods, provide writing supplies and stamps, and provide a clothes-mending service, would serve the needs of US enlisted men. Six staff members per hut should include four female volunteers who could “mother” the boys. The centers that were established by the Salvation Army in the United States near army training centers were called “huts”.
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, two Salvation Army volunteers came up with the idea of providing doughnuts. These are reported to have been an “instant hit”, and “soon many soldiers were visiting Salvation Army huts”. One volunteer wrote of one busy day “Today I made 22 pies, 300 doughnuts, 700 cups of coffee.” A legend has spread that the provision of doughnuts to US enlisted men in World War I is the origin of the term doughboy to describe US infantry, but the term was in use as early as the Mexican-American War of 1846-47. It is still a fund raiser run by The Salvation Army.
So, today, in honor of the Salvation Army and its volunteers in World War I, buy a doughnut today! Make mine glazed!
–Sandra Lee Smith