Did you get your free doughnut today? You should: it’s National Doughnut Day!
I know what you’re thinking: this is some marketing ploy recently dreamed up by bakers to sell more doughnuts. But you would be wrong. National Doughnut Day is nearly 80 years old: the first National Doughnut Day was celebrated in Chicago in 1938. And it wasn’t dreamed up by bakers or marketers at all but rather by the Salvation Army as a fundraiser. It was considered a way commemorate the work of the “doughnut girls” or “donut lassies” who fed the treats to American soldiers during World War I (the “doughnut girls” also returned to their baking duties during World War II.)
Here’s how it happened. During wartime, the Salvation Army provided support for U.S. soldiers fighting in France during World War I. 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. But foodstuffs were limited on battlefields. Doughnuts, however, were relatively easy to make, since they were composed mostly of sugar, water, flour, and lard (shh, that’s the secret). The doughnut girls began frying doughnuts in the field, seven at a time, to save on resources. Eventually, Salvation Army’s Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance thought of frying the doughnuts inside of soldiers’ helmets as a space saver, starting a tradition (that’s really using your head!).
And although female Salvation Army volunteers also provided writing supplies, stamps, clothes-mending and home-cooked meals to soldiers on the front lines, serving up those doughnuts was what really resonated with the troops. The memory of the doughnut girls inspired National Doughnut Day: it’s now a tradition on the first Friday of June to down a doughnut in honor of our troops.
Today, many restaurants will celebrate by giving away doughnuts. Here are a few spots where you can get free treats on National Doughnut Day:
- Cumberland Farms. Receive a FREE donut with purchase of any size Cumberland Farms coffee or Chill Zone beverage. Offer valid from 5am – 10am only.
- Duck Donuts. Duck Donuts will be offering a FREE Donut of your choice with any purchase. Additionally, receipts printed on 6/2 will feature an exclusive BOGO coupon for a “Buy One Get One Free 1/2 Dozen” redeemable Mon thru Wed until Aug. 31.
- Dunkin’ Donuts. Enjoy a FREE Classic Donut with any beverage purchase.
- Entenmann’s. Entenmann’s is giving away tens of thousands of donuts today in Times Square. Fans will have the opportunity to sample donuts, take part in fun activities and be wowed by the world-famous Harlem Globetrotters. If you can’t make it to New York, you can join in the fun on Entenmann’s Facebook page.
- Krispy Kreme. Get one free doughnut of your choice, no purchase necessary.
- LaMar’s Donuts. Celebrate with a FREE donut. Any donut with a hole, no purchase necessary.
- Shipley Donuts. Stop by today till noon to get your free glazed with purchase, at participating locations.
Of course, you can’t eat just one doughnut, right? If you decide to pick up a dozen (or three) extra doughnuts while you’re in the store, whether you will pay sales tax on those doughnuts depends on what you’re going to do with them… or at least what your state’s revenue department anticipates you’d do with them.
Doughnuts are one of those quirky foods that confound merchants across the country because, in most states, the question of how to tax them rests on whether they are considered a “take out” or “eat in” food. In most – but not all – states, sales tax is imposed on foods that are to be eaten on the premises while those to be taken away are often exempt.