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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My Donut Exhibit at Brooklyn’s City Reliquary this Winter

finaldonut3 jpeg (1024x732)If you’re in Brooklyn or NYC this winter, don’t miss the exhibit about donuts and donut shops that I’ve organized for Brooklyn’s City Reliquary!

Keep Your Eye Upon the Donut:
Donut Shops Past & Present of Brooklyn & Manhattan

On view: December 2013-February 2014
Opening donut party celebration:  Saturday, December 7, 6-9 p.m.

Each year billions of donuts are consumed in the United States. The exhibit Keep Your Eye Upon the Donut explores the key moments in the history of donut shops in Brooklyn and Manhattan, and the role New York City played in establishing and popularizing this delicious treat. The city’s rich donut history is surveyed and nine present-day donut shops are profiled. Keep Your Eye Upon the Donut will be on display at the City Reliquary from December 2013 to February 2014.

The city’s donut shop history starts with Mrs. Anna Joralemon’s 1673 donut shop on Broadway near Maiden Lane. The popularity of donut shops saw its biggest increase in the twentieth-century. Significant moments that will be highlighted include: the donuts served to immigrants arriving at Elllis Island, the Salvation Army’s Doughnut Hut in Union Square, the founding of the Doughnut Corporation of America, and the first donut shop chain, Mayflower Doughnuts, which had its flagship shop in Times Square. Independent donut shops flourished from the 1950s through the 1970s, and corporate chains increased in the 1980s through today. The 1990s brought a gourmet turn for donuts and innovations continue in the twenty-first century.

The nine present day donut shops highlighted are: Peter Pan Donut & Pastry Shop, Doughnut Plant, Mike’s Donuts & Coffee, The Donut Pub, Doughnuttery, Dun-Well Doughnuts, Shaikh’s Donuts, Dough, and Carpe Donut NYC. Photographs and histories of each shop will be on view alongside items from these shops.

Items from my collection of donut ephemera will also be shown. Donut events and programs will accompany this show, along with opportunities for visitors to share their own donut and donut shop memories.

As a former volunteer at the City Reliquary, New York’s donut shops are some of my favorites in the country and this is one of many projects I’m doing about donuts.

Whether you have 90 cents or $3 there’s a donut waiting for you in New York City. As the motto from the Mayflower Doughnut Shop advises: “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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Located at 370 Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburgh, Brooklyn, The City Reliquary Museum & Civic Organization provides a wide array of services to the community.  As a certified 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, we are committed to serving the people of New York City – natives, newcomers, and passersby. Originally established as a window-front display only museum in 2002 at the corner of Grand and Havemeyer Sts, it moved into its present location in 2006 and is committed to plan and host public events, which provide neighbors and visitors with a place to meet, exchange ideas, and celebrate the diversity of our community.

The City Reliquary’s hours are: Thursday through Sunday:  12pm – 6pm. Admission to the museum is $5 suggested donation. For general information, please visit the Museum’s website www.cityreliquary.org or call 718.R U CIVIC.