How many donuts are there in the world?
Invention of the donut hole - How the ravenous hunger of the Americans pitted the donuts
As early as the 17th century, the Dutch came up with the idea of baking a lump of dough in hot pork fat. Oliekoek or Oliebollen, so oil cake or oil balls, was the rather unsavory name of these little calorie bombs made from yeast dough. Dutch settlers brought them to the colony of New Amsterdam, what is now New York, at the beginning of the 19th century.
With nuts for the perfect bite
Apparently, the appetite of the inhabitants of the New World was legendary even then - the donuts there were getting bigger and bigger. This posed a problem: while the outside of the dough ball was baked to a perfect golden brown during frying, there was still a tough lump of hardly warmed dough in its core.
So nuts were placed in the middle. The result: the dough all around was perfectly fried. The name donuts, or dough nuts, was born.
Simple device, big effect
The nuts made the pastries, which were not exactly suitable for diets, even richer. But then the sailor Hanson Crockett Gregory came up with the idea in 1842 on a sea voyage to punch a hole in the ball of dough with a pepper shaker made of sheet metal. A solution might have been found for domestic use, but the method was hardly suitable for industrial production.
That changed on July 9, 1872, when engineer and inventor John F. Blondel from the state of Maine applied for a patent for a donut hole punch, paving the way for a billion dollar industry.
The simple device consisted of a tube with a piston running through the center, which drilled a circular hole into the ball of dough. Since the punched-out piece of dough was ejected by a spring behind the piston, the instrument was immediately ready for the next use.
Cult object and "comfort food"
The rest, at least as far as the US is concerned, is history. Donuts, mostly written without “u-g-h”, developed into cult objects and the ultimate “comfort food”. During the First World War, the Salvation Army distributed them to US soldiers in the trenches.
During the Second World War, employees of the Red Cross took over the distribution, they were called "donut dollies". The Salvation Army has been commemorating this since 1938: with a collection campaign on the first Friday in June, “National Donut Day”.
Battle of the donut giants
Between the world wars, the Russian immigrant Adolph Levitt operated a machine behind a pane of glass in front of his New York bakery that produced almost 1,000 donuts an hour. Thanks to this unique form of customer loyalty, the still warm donuts were very popular. Levitt sold the patent and became a wealthy man.
From the 1950s onwards, the two giants “Dunkin 'Donuts” and “Krispy Kreme” began their struggle for global donut supremacy - which faction you belong to is a much-discussed question of faith in the USA to this day.
The cliché that US police officers on patrol mainly live on donuts and coffee is almost legendary. Homer Simpson's ravenous appetite for the original American sweet is just as legendary.
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