According to Wikipedia, the origins of doughnuts (or donuts if you prefer) in the USA are murky. Some credit Dutch settlers with importing them, one remarkably bold fellow claimed he created the fried dough goodness in 1847, but an 1803 English cookbook lists the doughnut in its appendix of American recipes. So who knows, really?
What I do know is doughnuts may be a "sometimes" food, but they are a very, very yummy "sometimes" food. Twenty-ten is the 60th anniversary of the founding of the glorious institution known as Dunkin' Donuts. And while I, and pretty much anyone else not born in New England, do not believe "America runs on Dunkin'," I will grant you DD's coffee pretty much has been the only thing keeping me awake some days. My addiction did get to the point where I would enter my usual spot, and my coffee would be in the process of being made by the time I got to the counter.
So I read with interest the ode to Dunkin's written by Christopher Borrell in the Chicago Tribune. In his search to sort out why Dunks has lasted so long, he touches on the company's history and somewhat-adorably time-warped logo before settling on the fact that for all the change in America's recent food history, Dunkin' Donuts has remained pretty much the same.
For most of its existence, the doughnut has been pretty much the same - either cruller/bear claw shaped or round - regardless of who is serving it. Or where, for that matter. Worldwar1.com has a page devoted to The Salvation Army's doughnut girls, who brought a taste of home to America's soldiers serving in France during "the war to end all wars." Necessity really was the mother of invention here, when Ensign Helen Purviance wanted to make a treat for her "boys" but was limited by the ingredients she had on hand. A little creativity back in 1917 led to a Salvation Army tradition carried on today on battlefields and at disaster sites everywhere.
But lately, as with everything else food-related it seems, doughnuts are getting a makeover. Some trend-watchers are even calling them the "new cupcakes." No longer content to color the icing slathered on top or inject different fillings, doughnuts have gone designer. Shops like Frost Doughnuts in Washington State are popping up all over with, as Cakespy notes, flavors like Wedding Cake, Red Velvet and German Chocolate.
(Photo courtesy of www.worldwar1.com)