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Looking for an excuse to chow down warm gooey donuts? Then you are in luck because Friday, June 6th, happens to be National Donut day. Since the only way to celebrate this important holiday is by eating the sweet rings, you really have no choice but to devour a few or even a few dozen!
And while it may sound like a gimmicky celebration dreamt up by donut manufacturers to increase sales, the idea of the holiday can be traced all the way back to World War One. In 1917, when Salvation Army volunteers or 'donut lassies' as they were later called, were sent to look after injured US soldiers, they noticed how homesick and miserable the men were. To try lift their spirits, the women decided to make them a special treat. Since the only supplies available to them were basics like flour, sugar and oil, they settled on donuts. Not surprisingly, the treats worked like a charm!
In 1938, when the country was undergoing what is now called the 'Great Depression', Salvation Army volunteers from the Chicago branch set aside a day to sell fresh donuts - However this time around it was not just to lift the spirits of the American people, but also to raise much needed funds for the charity.
The event was such a success that it is now celebrated annually by the entire country, on the first Friday of June. What's even better is that this year, Dunkin Donuts is giving away free donuts with the purchase of a beverage at all their locations - making June 6th, 2014, the first ever global donut day! North American locations of Krispy Kreme and Lamar's donuts are also giving away free donuts with no purchase at all. Many neighborhood stores also participate in this fun tradition - so be sure to check if the one closest to you, is giving out free treats!
If you are amongst the minority that don't like the gooey treats you can celebrate by selling donuts to your friends and family and donating the proceeds to the local branch of the Salvation Army. It is after all thanks to them, that we have this fun tradition.
Though nobody knows for sure, it is believed that donuts were brought to the US in the 1800's by the Dutch who called them Olykoeks or oily cakes. Given that Americans now buy over 10 billion and spend about $3.6 billion on them each year, they sure were a hit. Canada which boast the most donut shops per capita, seems to have avid fans of the treats too.
Though largely an American tradition, donut-like treats are prevalent in countries around the world. The most similar are Lagayamats, fried ball-shaped treats covered in powdered sugar that are enjoyed by the residents that live in the Horn of Africa (Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and Eritrea). Then there are Tunisia's Yo-Yo's that are smothered in honey and sesame seeds and India's Vadas, a savory donut look alike made from lentil flour. Indonesians make their Donut Kentang with mashed potatoes and flour and . . . the list goes on. The bottom line is, you can celebrate this fun American tradition, no matter where you live.