The History of National Donut Day

The sweet history of why donuts became popular in the U.S.


John Stonestreet

Kristen Bender

Today is Donut Day. Believe it or not, the day wasn’t founded by Krispy Kreme or Dunkin but by The Salvation Army in Chicago in 1938 to commemorate their “Donut Lassies” who served during World War I. 

Methodist minister William Booth founded The Salvation Army in the 1860s to care for the poor in London. It was originally called the East London Revival Society. During World War I, the organization provided ambulances, clothing for soldiers, and refreshment huts. Booth’s daughter, Evangeline, told volunteers, “You are going overseas to serve Christ. … You must forget yourselves, be examples of His love, be willing to endure hardship, to lay down your lives, if need be, for His sake.”

The Donut Lassies stationed at the refreshment huts in France served donuts to the weary men on the front lines to bring them a taste of home. When the troops returned, they brought their love of “donuts” with them. And that’s why we have Donut Day. 


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