Ways to Celebrate National Doughnut Day

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This first Friday in June is always National Doughnut Day! 2014 was the 77th anniversary of this holiday started by the Salvation Army. Read more about the history here. Don’t miss the video on this page that has great historic footage. The Salvation Army played a big role in making donuts the popular treat that they are today. Female volunteers, named “donut lassies” served donuts to soldiers serving overseas in World War I. After the War they continued to serve donuts at places like the Doughnut Hut in New York City’s Union Square and as fundraisers. There’s even a song from 1919, “Don’t Forget the Salvation Army (My Doughnut Girl)”. For anyone looking for ways to celebrate this delicious holiday, here are some suggestions.

Visit your local donut shop! There’s nothing better than a fresh donut, even David Letterman said so. You could also bring in donuts for your co-workers. Donuts at work are a wonderful thing to share.

Read about donuts! One of my favorites is The Donut Book by Sally Levitt Steinberg, granddaughter of Adolph Levitt, inventor of the “Wonderful Almost Human Automatic Donut Machine.” With this machine, his founding of the Doughnut Corporation of America and the Mayflower Doughnut shops (the first chain of donut shops) Levitt also played a huge role in popularizing the donut. Steinberg tells her family story and also the broader history of the donut from the times of the Bible up through early 2000, including the Doughnut Plant, an early leader in the gourmet donut movement. Another fantastic book is Glazed America: A History of the Doughnut by Paul R. Mullins. He writes, “Anthropologists have always understood that eating is among the most social acts people have shared across time,” and his perspective as an anthropologist broadens our understanding of the importance of the donut. He unearths details about the donut’s history including interviews with immigrants who were served donuts when they first arrived at Ellis Island, examines histories of various donut corporations, and also discusses developments like the Cambodian immigrants who have opened donut shops in California. The newest donut book out is The Donut: History, Recipes, and Lore from Boston to Berlin by Michael Krondl which is being released June 6th. Stay tuned for my review of it.

Read to your kids about donuts! My love for donuts started when I was 4. Do your part to foster the next generation of donut lovers by taking them to donut shops and reading donut books to them. While classics include “The Doughnuts” in Homer Price by Robert McCloskey and Who Needs Donuts? by Mark Alan Stamaty, a new toddler-approved classic is The Donut Chef by Bob Staake. And if nothing else, keep in mind the motto from the Mayflower Doughnut Shop: “As you ramble on thru life brother, whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole!”

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Donutgrrl’s Top 5 Donut Shops in the U.S.

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Whenever I read lists of top Donut Shops in the U.S. I find some that overlap with my favorites and others that I love are all too often omitted.
I thought it was time to put together my own Top 5 list.

1. Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop
727 Manhattan Ave, Brooklyn (Greenpoint), New York

This donut shop from the 1950s is owned by Donna and Christos Siafakas. Each day they offer an array of fresh, handmade donuts ranging from classic cake and raised donuts with frosting and sprinkles, the best marble donut I’ve found, Honey Dip, Sour Cream, cream filled, crullers, eclairs, spice donuts, toasted coconut, as well as newer varieties like red velvet and the ice cream donut sandwich. The hand-painted glass menus above the donut cases, and the Formica w-shaped counter with stools that spin makes it all that one could hope for in a classic donut shop. People who’ve lived in Greenpoint all of their life sit on stools next to hipsters. It’s a donut shop dream come true.

2. Round Rock Donuts
106 W Liberty Ave  Round Rock, Texas

The first time I had a donut here I thought there was melted cheese on my bag, but instead it was the distinctive orange-yellow glaze of their donuts. But don’t let that description scare you, these are delicious donuts. Their Texas-size donuts (think toliet-seat size) are epic and a bargain at $5.99. The chocolate frosted one can’t be beat. Soft and chewy donut with a delicious, slightly grainy frosting. The regular size ones are good too but not quite as amazing. About twenty-five minutes past Austin, it’s definitely worth the drive if you’re near. Their website says three Austin stores also sell their donuts. Open since 1926, it’s a piece of Texas history and worth landmark-status.

3. Britt’s Donuts
11 Boardwalk, Carolina Beach, North Carolina

I never thought of donuts and the beach going together but Britt’s Donuts is a tradition for so many visitors to Carolina Beach and it should become one for everyone. Glazed donuts are the only variety they make, but when you’ve hit on perfection there’s no need to experiment beyond that. In late March they open for the season with weekend hours through Memorial Day before shifting to a 7-days a week schedule through late September (I believe). In operation since 1939 this is how donuts were meant to be consumed, hot and fresh, with more being made before your eyes.

4. Sweetwater’s Donut Mill
2807 Capital Ave, Battle Creek, Michigan
2138 Sprinkle Rd, Kalamazoo, Michigan
3333 Stadium Dr, Kalamazoo, Michigan

With 24-hour drive-throughs you can get these delicious donuts whenever you want. An impressive rotating menu of flavors includes chocolate cream-filled long johns and variations on Oreo Cookies and Reese’s peanut butter cups. Fancies, yeast raised donuts, and cake, Sweetwater’s got them all. Their 1980s style donut shops pick up the mid-century donut tradition fantastically.

5. Doughnut Plant
Mark Isreal has been a leader in the newer gourmet donut trend with the innovative flavors he’s developed using fresh ingredients including fruits and nuts. But the recipe behind it all comes from his Grandfather who made donuts in Burlington and Greensboro, North Carolina. In New York Isreal first started delivering donuts by bike before opening the first Doughnut Plant shop on the Lower East Side in 2000 and a second location on the ground floor of the Chelsea Hotel in 2011. With seasonal and holiday flavors Isreal sets a wonderful example for what gourmet donuts can be. Coconut Creme and Tres Leches are two of my favorites along with the Chocolate Hazelnut-filled Doughseed.

While these are my top five donut shops, there are so many other donut purveyors out there making wonderful donuts. So try these but also seek out new shops. Who knows, the best donut shop may be one we haven’t even found yet.