Every year on the first Friday in June the Salvation Army proclaims the day to be Doughnut Day and this year marks the 75th celebration of this delicious holiday. The sugary tradition has been alive since 1938 when the Salvation Army first decided to honor the “Doughnut Lassies” who passed out the sweet snack to soldiers in WWI. The Salvation Army also used this day to deliver a helping hand to the needy during the Great Depression through fundraising and awareness campaigns. It was a fact-finding mission shortly after the US entered the war that discovered the need for these female volunteers to pass out doughnuts to soldiers .
Through this mission The Salvation Army discovered that the needs of soldiers could be met by setting up tents that offered baked goods, writing supplies, stamps, and cloth-mending services. These stations were frequently set up near training centers in the U.S., but about 250 Salvation Army volunteers were also sent overseas. Due to the difficulty in providing freshly baked goods near the front lines two volunteers, Margaret Sheldon and Helen Purviance, suggested they serve doughnuts and cleverly fried them in soldiers unused helmets. It was an instant success and the Salvation Army has since decided to honor the service provided with a day focused on the sugary treat.
Today National Doughnut day is recognized as what Major George Hood, National Community Relations and Development Secretary for The Salvation Army calls a “true American tradition in which The Salvation Army asks the general public to remember those who fought in World War I, as well as their neighbors who may have fallen on hard times.” The celebration of the holiday includes local Salvation Army Units passing out free doughnuts at Krispy Kreme, Dunkin’ Doughnuts, and local bakeries.
This year The Salvation Army also posted the original doughnut recipe on their blog for doughnut lovers to try their hand at making their own doughnuts.
SALVATION ARMY LASSIES’ DOUGHNUT RECIPE
Yield: 4 doz. doughnuts
5 C flour
2 C sugar
5 tsp. baking powder
1 ‘saltspoon’ salt
1 3/4 C milk
1 Tub lard
- Combine all ingredients (except for lard) to make dough.
- Thoroughly knead dough, roll smooth, and cut into rings that are less than 1/4 inch thick. (When finding items to cut out doughnut circles, be creative! Salvation Army doughnut girls used whatever they could find, from baking powder cans to coffee percolator tubes.)
- Drop the rings into the lard, making sure the fat is hot enough to brown the doughnuts gradually. Turn the doughnuts slowly several times.
- When browned, remove doughnuts and allow excess fat to drip off.
- Dust with powdered sugar. Let cool and enjoy.