National Donut Day Commemorates Salvation Army Donut Lassies

May 21, 2018

National Donut Day started in 1938 in Chicago to honor of The Salvation Army “Donut Lassies" who served donuts to the front lines during World War I. This unofficial holiday is celebrated on the first Friday in June.

In 1917, The Salvation Army began a mission to provide spiritual and emotional support for U.S. soldiers fighting in France during the war. About 250 volunteers traveled overseas and set up small huts located near the front lines where they could give soldiers clothes, supplies and, of course, baked goods.

After discovering that serving baked goods would be difficult considering the conditions of the huts and the limited rations, two volunteers, Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance, began frying donuts in soldiers’ helmets. These tasty treats boosted morale and won the hearts of many soldiers. 

Nicknamed “Donut Lassies,” the women who served donuts to troops are often credited with popularizing the donut in the United States when the troops (nicknamed “doughboys”) returned home from war. 

During World War I, Donut Lassies served coffee and donuts to soldiers in the trenches. Rations were poor, so the donut idea was conceived as a means of bringing the soldiers cheer and as a way to provide spiritual aid and comfort to American soldiers and their allies. These Salvation Army volunteers were there to be a link between home and family. 

Celebrate National Donut Day and make the original Donut Lassies' recipe!

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