National News

Bite-sized History: National Donut Day Has Christian Roots

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — When people celebrate National Donut Day on Friday, June 7 by biting into a sugar-coated fried dough, they might not be aware that Christianity is embedded in the history of the delicious day.

National Donut Day, which was first celebrated in Chicago in 1938, was not a half-baked idea. 

Rather, it was established because of the work of the Salvation Army, the Christian church and international charitable organization.

According to the Salvation Army’s U.S. website, National Donut Day is set aside on the first Friday of June every year to pay tribute to Salvation Army members who had served in World War I in France.

A little history: When the U.S. entered the war in 1917, the Salvation Army sent women over to France to help set up field bases near the front lines.

The soldiers who were brought to the field bases were often met by kindly women who handed them fresh-baked doughnuts that they had made. The doughnuts were a real morale booster for the war-weary soldiers.

As a result of their generosity, the nurses were given the catchy nickname “Donut Lassies.”

Not only did the Donut Lassies boost the morale of soldiers, they also helped to popularize the doughnut here in the U.S., according to the Salvation Army.

It seems that the soldiers — who were nicknamed doughboys — couldn’t stop talking about the delicious doughnuts they enjoyed back in France.

Eager to memorialize the Donut Lassies, the Salvation Army in Chicago established National Donut Day in 1938 and it has been celebrated ever since.

On Friday, doughnut sellers across the country from large chains like Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme to small, mom-and-pop doughnut shops, mark the day by offering free doughnuts.

But as people take that first bite of the free doughnut, perhaps they can take a moment to thank the Donut Lassies.