Go on a Donut Day Adventure on National Donut Day

The first Friday in June—June 7 this year—is National Donut Day

What is round, fried, makes your mouth water and has its own national holiday?

Donuts! The glazed, cream-filled, varied beauties are celebrated each year. While the taste alone is enough to celebrate, National Donut Day actually has a meaningful history rooted in the American spirit.

Today, most people celebrate without understanding the history. The holiday has been commercialized by donut shops nationwide with some serving up everything from free donuts to donut contests.

Keep reading to learn more about National Donut Day and when and how to partake in the festivities.

National Donut Day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

What is National Donut Day?

You might be surprised but National Donut Day is a holiday. Its history which we trace below is much more than about the tasty treat.

But today the holiday is celebrated in many creative ways paying homage to the donut. Some donut shops have a special flavor, others, like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ gives everyone a free donut just for showing up.

When is National Donut Day?

National Donut Day falls on the first Friday of June every year. This year, Friday, June 7 is National Donut Day.

There is also a second, but less popularly celebrated National Donut Day. November 10 is the birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Americans convinced the Vietnamese to help them celebrate by giving out donuts in honor of the occasion.

Since then National Donut Day is also celebrated by some on November 5. The celebration is speculated to have originated from that event in Vietnam.

There was no shortage of donuts during November in Vietnam. The 200 female American Red Cross volunteers or Donut Dollies turned out about 20,000 donuts daily for GIs.

National Donut Day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The history of National Donut Day

With so many food holidays out there, it’s pretty easy to trivialize their significance. But National Donut Day has a filling as rich as the custard of a Boston cream donut.

National Donut Day dates back to World War I. The female volunteers of the Salvation Army cooked donuts for American GIs overseas. The tradition carried on through the Great Depression.

During the Great Depression, the Chicago Salvation Army claimed National Donut Day as an official holiday in order to celebrate the female volunteers who championed the GIs during the war. It became official in 1938.

These female volunteers became known as Donut Dollies. They would each make upwards of 300 donuts a day—by hand.

The female volunteers who made donuts were called dough girls or dough lassies. They continued to serve donuts to GIs during World War II. Throughout various wars like the Vietnam War soldiers continued the tradition of eating donut-like food wherever they were serving.

Prisoner of war Orson Swindle had his soldiers observe the holiday during the Vietnam War by serving them sweet sticky buns. Eventually, bakeries and civilians alike started celebrating every year by eating a rich sweet donut.

National Donut Day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The importance of National Donut Day

Beyond its historic importance, National Donut Day celebrates one of America’s most beloved treats. Although donuts are actually believed to be from the Netherlands and immigrated to New York with the Dutch. Nevertheless, 56 percent of Americans said they’ve taken donuts to their office.

Because it only comes once (and sometimes twice) a year, it is important for donut shops to seize the opportunity. Many shops celebrate and monetize National Donut Day by preparing marketing campaigns well in advance.

National Donut Day timeline

  • 1809: One of the earliest accounts of donuts are attributed to Dutch settlers that brought them over to New York
  • 1918: The Salvation Army sets up canteens in the frontlines of World War I to provide care and donuts for soldiers
  • 1920: Adolph Levitt, a refugee from Russia designs a gadget to help him keep up with the demand for donuts at his shop
  • 1989: The Simpsons is aired for the first time and the world is introduced to Homer, a true donut lover
National Donut Day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Donuts by the numbers

  • 10 billion: Number of donuts made in the U.S. each year
  • 10: Number of people living in America with Donut as their surname
  • 13: Number of people who have Donut as their first name
  • 2,480: Boston has one donut shop for every 2,480 people
  • 20: Number of donuts Renée Zellweger ate every day to gain weight for the sequel of Bridget Jones’s Diary
  • 9: Guinness World Record for the most powdered donuts eaten in three minutes
  • 201.02 million: Number of donuts consumed by Americans in 2020
  • 100,000: Number of donuts churned out by Entenmann’s every hour
  • 3,660: Number of donuts it would take to reach the top of the Statue of Liberty
  • 55 million: Number of donuts it would take to get from Long Beach, California to Long Island, New York

Top 10 donut flavors

  • Glazed: 28 percent
  • Boston Cream: 17 percent
  • Chocolate Frosted: 16 percent
  • Jelly Filled: 11 percent
  • Chocolate Cake: 7 percent
  • Maple: 6 percent
  • Blueberry: 5 percent
  • Bear Claw: 4 percent
  • Powdered Sugar: 3 percent
  • Pink Frosted: 3 percent
National Donut Day © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Top 10 favorite donut chains

  • #1: Krispy Kreme: 41 percent
  • #2: Dunkin’ Donuts: 40 percent
  • #3: Shipley Donuts: 4 percent
  • #4: Tim Hortons 3 percent
  • #5: Voodoo Donuts: 3 percent
  • #6: Daylight Donuts: 3 percent
  • #7: Entenmann’s Donuts in my own kitchen: 3 percent
  • #8: Winchell’s Donuts: 2 percent
  • #9: Lamar’s Donuts: 1 percent
  • #10: Honey Dew Donuts: 1 percent

National Donut Day activities

  • Go on a donut adventure: Visit a local donut shop but don’t go for your usual, instead allow yourself to experiment with different flavors
  • Share the love: Pick out a variety of donuts to share with family and friends
  • Fry ‘em up: Making your own donuts can be an exciting experience to share with friends and family

Worth Pondering…

With a doughnut in each hand, anything is possible.

—Jameela Jamil