Homer Simpson Did Not invent the Donut.
Living on Long Island for several years, I was accustomed to the idea of food trailers where you could stop and grab a quick bite. However, the phenomenon has only recently started here in the Shenandoah Valley in the past few years. A few months back, I was pleased to see a Strite’s Donuts trailer parked each Wednesday at a local gas station. If we are what we eat I am a donut, and after eating my third, or was it my fourth, glazed melt in your mouth awesomeness. I started thinking about the origin of these things called donuts.
The story goes that around 1847, Elizabeth Gregory, mother of a New England ship captain, made a deep-fried dough that used her son’s spice cargo of nutmeg, cinnamon, and lemon rind. She made the cakes for her son and crew so that they could store the pastry on long voyages. Mrs. Gregory put hazelnuts or walnuts in the center, where the dough might not cook through, and called them doughnuts.
Tradition has it that while in the middle of a terrible storm and to get both hands on the ship’s wheel; he rammed one of his mother’s doughnuts onto one of the wooden spokes. The spike drove a hole through the raw center of the doughnut. Captain Gregory liked the doughnuts better that way, minus the raw center, voila! The hole was born. Apparently, America agreed, but unfortunately, Captain Gregory was eventually burned at the stake for being a witch. Today, the town of Clam Grove, Maine has a plaque in honor of Captain Hanson Gregory, the man who invented the hole.
During World War I, millions of homesick American “doughboys” were served up countless doughnuts by women volunteers, to give the soldiers a taste of home.
Those who celebrate Hanukkah know that doughnuts have a rich history in Jewish cuisine. Deep-fried dough balls known as Sufganiyot or Banuelos are prepared today much as they were more than a thousand years ago. Pastries similar to donuts are known in many countries by many names. In France, they are beignets, in Ethiopia, they are called dolcho. In Morocco, the pastry is sprinkled with honey and called sten.
Today, in the United States alone, over 10 billion doughnuts are made every year. One can only agree with Homer Simpson…”Mmmmmmmm”Donuts.”