41 Delicious Facts about Doughnuts

By Karin Lehnardt, Senior Writer
Published August 19, 2016
  • The origin of the name “doughnut” is unclear. Some researchers suggest the name refers to the nuts that were placed inside the ball of dough to compensate for the uncooked center. Other researchers claim it refers to “dough knots,” which was the shape for early doughnuts.[1]
  • A “cruller” is a fried pastry that traditionally looked like “small, braided torpedo.” It was considered a staple of the New England diet since the pilgrims. Aunt Em in The Wizard of Oz offers crullers to Hunk, Hickory, and Zeke after scolding them for being useless farmhands.[8][10]
  • Adolph Levitt, a Russian-born immigrant, invented the first automated doughnut machine in 1920. He called it the “Wonderful Almost Human Automatic Donut Machine.”[11]
  • The origin of the doughnut is unknown, though different nationalities have had their own version of the treat throughout history. A type of doughnut is even mentioned in the Bible. Specifically, Chapter 7 and verse 12 of Leviticus says that a thanksgiving to God should be made of “cakes mingled with oil, of fine flour, fried.”[3]
  • The U.S. makes over 10 billion doughnuts each year
  • Over 10 billion doughnuts are made in the U.S. each year.[14]
  • On December 12, 2010, Shamus Petherick of Australia set the record for the most powdered doughnuts eaten in 3 minutes when he ate six of the treats.[13]
  • Ten people in the United States have the last name Doughnut or Donut. Ninety-five people have the name Longjohn (the name of a long doughnut). Twelve people have the name Bearclaw, 498 people have the name Sprinkles, 470 people in the U.S. have the name Fritter, and 1,634 have the name Sugar.[4]
  • Some unique doughnut flavors/names include Wasabi Cheese, Champagne, Poi (a common Hawaiian starch paste from the taro root), Southern Spice (made with Southern spices, green chilies, and thyme), Rosemary Olive Oil, Bubble Gum, Chicken & Waffle, and Psycho Psushi.[12]
  • One of Cosmopolitan magazine’s most infamous sex tips was “doughnut on a penis,” which suggested that a woman place a doughnut on a man’s penis while giving oral sex.[7]
  • The first recorded use of the word “donut” is found in the 1900 story “Peck’s Bad Boy and His Pa” by George W. Peck. A character is quoted as saying, “Pa said he guessed he hadn’t got much appetite and he would just drink a cup of coffee and eat a donut.”[3]
  • “Doughnut” is the more traditional spelling, although its shortened form, “donut,” is also acceptable.[1]
  • Most historians believe that the Dutch were the first to introduce the modern doughnut to North America in the form of olykoeks, or “oil cakes” as early as the mid-19th century. These early doughnuts were balls of cake fried in pork fat. Because the center of the cake did not cook as fast as the outside, the gooey center was replaced with fruit or nuts.[1]
  • Hansen Gregory, an American ship captain, is the man credited with inventing the classic hole-in-the-middle shape of the modern doughnut in 1847 by simply punching out the middle. Other versions of the story describe Gregory piercing the middle of the doughnut on the ship’s steering wheel so he could use both hands to steer. Yet another version claims that he received the idea of punching out the middle from angels.[16]
  • A glazed doughnut has about 240 calories, of which 120 are from fat. A Krispy Kreme raspberry jam-filled doughnut has about 300 calories, and a Krispy Kreme chocolate iced doughnut has about 350 calories.[2]
  • Eating a doughnut a day can add an extra pound every 10 days
  • If a person added a doughnut a day to their regular diet, they would gain about one extra pound every 10 days.[2]
  • Because doughnuts are fried, they contain a large amount of saturated and trans fat. According to one report, doughnuts have more trans fat than chocolate, peanut butter chocolate bars, and chips. A single doughnut will meet the maximum amount of trans fat for one day. (Some companies such as Dunkin Donuts have phased out trans fat in their doughnuts).[2]
  • A chocolate glazed doughnut has about 5 teaspoons of sugar. According to the American Heart Association, women should eat no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day.[2]
  • National Donut Day is on the first Friday of every June. The holiday was established in 1938 to celebrate the Salvation Army Workers (“Doughnut Girls”) who supplied free donuts to American troops during WWI. Another holiday celebrating the ubiquitous fried treat is National Doughnut Appreciation Day, which falls on November 5.[9]
  • The longest line of donuts ever recorded stretched 1,841 feet 10 inches in Berlin on April 27, 2014.[9]
  • The largest donut mosaic ever recorded was in Ukraine on January 7, 2012. The exhibit featured 7,040 donuts and was held to promote traditional Ukrainian donuts, called a pampukh, which is also a symbol of Christmas.[9]
  • The largest serving of donuts weighed a whopping 1,470 pounds in Kazakhstan on November 2, 2013. Traditional Kazakhstan donuts are called baursaks.[9]
  • The largest box of doughnuts ever recorded was a Krispy Kreme box weighing 297 pounds 10 ounces. Produced by the Kuwait Food Co. Americana in Kuwait City in May 2009, the enlarged box was an exact replica of the original Krispy Kreme box and was filled with 2,700 Krispy Kreme donuts. The box itself was 19 feet 4 inches long, 13 feet 5 inches wide, and 2 feet 10 inches deep.[9]
  • In the 1934 movie It Happened One Night, Clark Gable gave birth to the trend of dunking donuts in milk when he showed a fellow actor the “right way to do it.”[14]
  • Among Americans of German descent, jelly donuts have long been thought to bring good luck to those who eat them on New Year’s Eve.[3]
  • Even before people would trick or treat for candy, Halloween was celebrated by bobbing for donuts hung from a string.[3]
  • Doughnuts are actually addictive due to the ingredient saccharine
  • One reason doughnuts are so addictive is that they have lots of saccharine. In one study, rats overwhelming prefer water sweetened with saccharin to cocaine, which demonstrates the addictiveness of sweets in general and doughnuts in particular.[5]
  • The largest donut ever made weighed 1.7 tons. It was a jelly doughnut made in New York on January 21, 1993.[16]
  • The world’s most expensive donut is made of 24k edible gold, edible diamonds, and aged chocolate balsamic vinegar. The remaining ingredients are top secret. They sell for $100 a piece.[16]
  • Whalers sometimes would celebrate the 1,000th barrel of whale oil by frying donuts in—not surprisingly—whale oil.[1]
  • During the 1940s, stars such as Johnny Carson, Pearl Buck, Red Skelton, Jimmy Durante, and Martha Graham were members of the National Dunking Association for doughnuts. The association even provided membership cards.[1]
  • The author of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” Washington Irving was one of the first to use the word “doughnut.” His 1809 History of New York describes “balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called doughnuts.” Today, the “nuts” of fried dough are called “doughnut holes.”[1]
  • To go from a size 6 to a size 14 in just 3 months to portray Bridget Jones, Renee Zellweger said she ate 20 doughnuts a day.[1]
  • Doughnuts can be up to 25% fat because they absorb so much of the fat they are fried in.[2]
  • Jews have embraced sufganiyot, jelly-filled donuts, as ceremonial food of Hanukkah. Their rationale is that sufganiyot are cooked in hot oil and thus pay homage to the second century B.C. rededication of the Holy Temple, during which the oil in the temple lamp lasted eight nights instead of the expected one.[3]
  • John Haight holds the record for doughnut eating after he ate 52 ounces of them (29 doughnuts) in just over 6 minutes in 1981.[9]
  • Admiral Richard E. Byrd took 100 barrels of donut flour (enough for two years) on one of his South Pole expeditions.[16]
  • The stereotype of the police officer with a doughnut emerged in the 1940s and 1950s
  • The enduring stereotype of the police officer with a donut emerged in the 1940s and 1950s when the only places open during the graveyard shift were donut shops. Donut shops were typically open late at night or very early in the morning as they prepared fresh donuts for the morning rush.[3]
  • The city with the most doughnut shops per person is Boston, MA. Rounding out the top five are Long Beach, CA; Dallas, TX; Sacramento, CA; and Fort Worth, TX.[16]
  • When President John F. Kennedy announced in Berlin, “Ich bin ein Berliner,” he did not say, as is commonly believed, that he was a jelly doughnut. The phrase is not only correct, but it is the only way to express what the president had intended to say. To state, “Ich bin Berliner” would imply that he was born in Berlin, whereas the word ein implied he was a Berliner in spirit.[15]
  • Researchers have noted that the size of the hole in a doughnut correlates with the quality of the economy. Specifically, the worse the economy, the bigger the doughnut hole.[1]
  • The French used to call their doughnuts Pet de Nonne, which means “Nun’s Farts.”[6]
References

1 Conradt, Stacy. “The Quick 10: 10 Details about Doughnuts.” Mental Floss. June 5, 2009. Accessed: April 29, 2015.

2 Covelli, Grace. “How Many Calories Does a Doughnut Have?” Live Strong. Updated April 22, 2015. Accessed: April 24, 2015.

3 Edge, John T. Donut: An American Passion. New York, NY: G.P. Penguin Group, 2006.

4 Fink, Jameson. “Infographic: How Many People Have Donut Related Names?” Foodista. June 7, 2013. Accessed: April 29, 2015.

5 Gellene, Denise. “This Explains Your Doughnut Addiction.” LA Times. November 10, 2007. Accessed: April 29, 2015.

6 Green, Anna. "15 Delicious Facts about Doughnuts." Mental Floss. March 10, 2016. Accessed: July 16, 2016.&n

7 Hess, Amanda. “The Weird history of Cosmo’s Most Infamous Sex Tip.” Slate. February 26, 2014. Accessed: April 24, 2015.

8 Hogan, David J. The Wizard of Oz FAQ: All That’s Left to Know about Life, According to Oz. Milwaukee, WI: Hal Leonard Corporation, 2014.

9 Janela, Mike. “Happy National Donut Day.” Guinness World Records. June 6, 2014. Accessed: April 29, 2015.

10 Kahn, Joseph P. “With Progress, a Cruel Twist.” Boston. October 25, 2003. Accessed: May 1, 2015.

11 Krondl, Michael. The Donut: History, Recipes, and Lore from Boston to Berlin. Chicago, IL: Chicago Review Press, 2014.

12 McAuliffe, Annelise. “8 Outlandish Donuts.” Honest Cooking. February 24, 2014. Accessed: April 29, 2015.

13Most Powdered Doughnuts Eaten in Three Minutes.” Guinness World. Records. 2015. Accessed: April 29, 2015.

14On National Donut Day, a Tribute to the Delicious and Addicting Treat.” The Huffington Post. Updated June 7, 2013. Accessed: April 29, 2015.

15 Putnam, Thomas. “The Real Meaning of Ich Bin ein Berliner.” The Atlantic. 2015. Accessed: April 29, 2015.

16The History of the Donut.Mel-O-Crème Donuts International. 2002. Accessed: April 29, 2015.

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