National Doughnut Day
National Doughnut Day is on the first Friday of June each year, succeeding the Doughnut Day event created by The Salvation Army in 1938 to honor the women who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War I. The holiday celebrates the doughnut (a.k.a. "donut") – an edible, torus-shaped piece of dough which is deep-fried and sweetened. Many American doughnut stores offer free doughnuts on National Doughnut Day. In 2009, both independent doughnut shops and large national franchises offered free doughnuts in the United States.
Chris Parry from the Vancouver Sun noted in a satirical column that some Canadians are envious of the U.S. holiday. Though, some donuts shops in some Canadian locations do participate.
National Doughnut Day started in 1938 as a fund raiser for Chicago's The 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 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."
Soon, these workers became known by the servicemen as "Doughnut Dollies".
A misapprehension has taken hold 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.
In Chicago, National Doughnut Day is still a fundraiser for The Salvation Army.
In the Second World War, Red Cross Volunteers also distributed doughnuts, and it became routine to refer to the Red Cross girls as Doughnut Dollies as well.
There are three other doughnut holidays, the origins of which are obscure. International Jelly-Filled Doughnut Day is widely recognized as June 8 (occasionally as June 9). National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day is celebrated on September 14. And, Buy A Doughnut Day occurs on October 30.
The birthday of the United States Marine Corps was once referred to as National Donut Day, in a successful ruse by American prisoners of war at Son Tay prison camp to trick the North Vietnamese into giving out donuts in honor of the occasion. 
As of 2013, a representative of the Lamar's Donuts franchise has stated that "we estimate a 35-50% increase over past National Donut Day sales thanks to an increase in marketing via Facebook, mobile advertising, and local press as we try to not only increase awareness for national donut day, but increase support for the Salvation Army: a very deserving organization." In preparation for the event, each Lamar's franchise store has put up advertisements for needed day laborers to match the increase in customers.
Notes and references
- Kevin Fagan A holey holiday – National Doughnut Day June 6, 2009 SF Chronicle
- "LaMar’s Donuts Celebrates National Donut Day With Free Donut". LaMar's Donuts & Coffee shop. Retrieved May 29, 2011.
- Elina Shatkin (June 2, 2009). "Small Bits: Test Kitchen Tuesdays at Corkbar and National Doughnut Day". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 4, 2009.
- Chris Reidy, Globe staff (June 4, 2009). "Dunkin': Buy joe, get free Doughnut Day sinker". The Boston Globe. Retrieved June 4, 2009.
- Lorraine Eaton. "Krispy Kreme Doughnuts – Free tomorrow!". The Virginian-Pilot: HamptonRoads.com. Retrieved June 4, 2009.
- Chris Parry National Doughnut Day bypasses Canadian pastry lovers as Americans chow down June 5, 2009 Vancouver Sun
- "Today is National Donut Day: A funny POW story". 10 November 2009. US Naval Institute. Retrieved 9 November 2012.
- Those Extraordinary Women of World War I, Karen Zeinert, 2001
- Origins of "Doughboy", An Interim Report, by Michael E. Hanlon, June 16, 2003
- Holiday Insights : National Doughnut Day, or National Donut Day