13 Donut Fun Facts That Might Be Surprising

Jill Caren

Donuts have a rich history – and some amazing facts. If you love donuts, this is a fun read with lots of entertaining stories.

Categories News

Did you know that Americans eat over 10 billion donuts each year?

That’s a whole lot of sweet, doughy goodness! But there’s more to donuts than meets the eye – get ready to discover some fun facts about these popular dessert treats.

And yes, you can spell it donut or doughnut; both are correct.

1. Medicinal Donuts

Talk about good marketing! Voodoo donuts came out with flavor combinations that might make you scratch your head, but the marketing and press were worth it.

Their Pepto Bismol donut featured a chalky pink donut that was not only dipped in Pepto but also sprinkled with Tums—a perfect donut for the late-night after-drinking crowd. They also offered a donut laced with Nyquil, but as expected, the FDA was not a fan of either of these, and the donuts were discontinued. The FDA involvement made for an entertaining Reddit thread!

2. Guinness World Record

We cannot imagine how happy Homer Simpson would be to learn about the largest cake donut ever created. Not only did it weigh 225 pounds, but it also featured the iconic pink frosting that Homer is known to love. This win has caused some controversy since it is more of a cake shaped like a donut than an actual donut.

Another donut-related Guinness World Record winner is Tom’s Donuts, a donut shop in Angola, Indiana. This shop holds the record for making – and selling – 8,558 donuts in just 8 hours, more than any other donut shop in history.

3. Donut Names

According to Ancestry.com, just ten people in the United States have the last name Donut. Census lists show that only 54 people with the last name Donut lived in the United States between 1700 and 1960.

4. The First Donut Machine

The first donut machine was invented in 1920. Adolph Levitt, a New York City refugee from Russia, is said to have created it. When his small bakery began successfully selling fried donuts, he knew he needed something to help increase production. That machine would earn him approximately $25 million a year.

5. Donuts During War

donut lassies from salvation army delivering donuts to soldiers

Doughnut Dollies were women who worked for the American Red Cross during World War II. They passed out hot donuts and coffee to the hard-working soldiers protecting our country. The Red Cross had 468 doughnut machines donated by The Doughnut Corporation of America. These machines churned out 48 dozen every hour—which was still not enough to meet the demand. Estimates show doughnut girls gave out over 4,659,728 donuts to the troops. 

The Salvation Army also had its donut delivery women, who were called Donut Lassies.

6. Donut Eating World Record

Apparently, professional competitive eater is a career. James Webb takes the cake for eating the most donuts at the World Donut Eating Championship in 2023. In only 8 minutes, he ate eat 59 1/2 donuts, taking the win from Joey Chestnut, who is famous in his own right for the Nathan’s Hot Dog competition.

7. Potato Donuts Were A Thing

spudnut coffee shop in charlottesville va
Kim Navarre / Wikipedia

Spudnuts, at one time, was a chain that served donuts made with potato flour. Brothers Al and Bob Pelton created the dry potato mix used in their donuts and launched their business in 1940. Eventually, they would go on to franchise their store concept. By 1948, there were over 200 Spudnut Shops across the U.S. After several sales and ownership changes, the parent company closed in 1979, leaving franchisees to fend for themselves. It is unclear if – or how many – Spudnut stores are still out there.

8. Hit Food of the Century

Although still a popular treat, donuts had a heyday in the 1930s. At the 1933 Chicago World Fair, donuts earned notoriety as the “hit food of the century of progress.” They were considered the perfect blend of fresh ingredients and an automated process.

9. The Donut Dunk

donut dunk scene in the movie it happened one night
Columbia Pictures

Some people are dunkers; some are not. But when did the dunk of the donut become a common thing? Rumor has it that Clark Gable made it famous in 1934 with his infamous donut dunking in It Happened One Night.

Others believe an actress named Mae Murray was the original dunker when she dropped a donut into her coffee.

10. A Healthier Breakfast Option?

You might think that the breakfast choice you are making is a good one! But in some cases, even a jelly donut may be a better option. Let’s take a Dunkin’ jelly donut, which averages about 270 calories per donut.

Meanwhile, a Dunkin’ plain bagel comes in at 310 calories, and their croissant has 340. These are without adding butter or cream cheese! So, go ahead and eat that jelly donut and feel guilt-free doing it.

11. A Day To Celebrate (Or Is It)

Started in 1938, National Donut Day is held on the first Friday of June. Many do not know that the day was originally created as a fundraiser for the Salvation Army in Chicago.

They wanted to help people in need during the Great Depression and honor the ” Donut Lassies” that served donuts to soldiers in World War I. In some cities, National Donut Day is still a fundraiser. But for most of us, it is a day to grab a free donut.

12. Donut Tours Are A Thing

bacon maple doughnut bars from voodoo doughnuts
Credit: Voodoo Doughnut

Donuts have become so popular that someone built a business around donut tours. Underground Donut Tour has been taking donut fans to the best locations in cities nationwide for ten years. Explore new shops in different cities, taste the goods, and make new donut-loving friends.

They even run a contest for the greatest donut in America where people can share their favorite donuts.

13. Taking The “Hole” Credit

Captain Gregory, a ship captain in the mid-19th century, claimed the credit for creating the holes in a donut. His mom would make a deep-fried dough treat with nutmeg, cinnamon, and lemon rind for the ship’s crew. She hoped that it would ward off diseases like scurvy. 

There are several reasons historians believe Captain Gregory added that hole, from needing a place to store the donut while navigating the seas to making it easier to digest. Sadly, we will never really know the real story.

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