10 Tasty & fascinating doughnut facts

The Children's Trust Blogger

Doughnut lovers and enthusiasts in the UK will have heard of National Doughnut Week, which happens every May. But how much do you know about the heavenly little rings of fried dough you love so much? Never fear, we’re here with 10 doughnut facts to keep you informed, educated and never wanting for great doughnuts. In fact, read on to the end for an easier way to hunt down doughnuts near you…

Doughnut Fact #1: The original name is far less appetising than the modern version

Given a moniker that means “oily cakes” in Dutch, doughnuts were originally called olykoeks. Which, to be fair, makes a good deal more sense than “doughnut,” since nuts are less common an ingredient these days.

Doughnut Fact #2: These marvellous morsels may have been more “accidental luck” than “genius invention.”

Cows invented doughnuts... who MOO it?!Picture by Maxpixel | CC0 Public Domain It’s rumoured that doughnuts were invented accidentally by a cow. Yes, you read that correctly! It's said that a clumsy cow kicked a pot of oil into some pastry dough. A happy accident, if you ask us!

Doughnut Fact #3: They're are so delicious, they’ve even lifted the spirits of soldiers during the World Wars!

Cover of the Salvation Army Magazine \"War Cry\", November 9, 1918, depicting \"Doughnut Dollies\"- American volunteers serving in France
Cover of the Salvation Army Magazine "War Cry", November 9, 1918, depicting "Doughnut Dollies"- American volunteers serving in France. | Public Domain “Doughnut Girls” in World War I and Red Cross volunteers known as “Doughnut Dollies” in World War II passed out hot doughnuts to U.S. soldiers to give them a taste of home.

Doughnut Fact #4: A Hollywood actress may be responsible for one classic way to eat them

Mae West, 1936Doughnuts dunked in coffee, are you a fan? Mae West, pictured above in 1936, started a craze still going strong to this day | Paramount Public Domain  When Mae West dropped a doughnut in her coffee and reportedly invented “dunking doughnuts,” she likely didn’t realise just how much it would catch on! There are entire franchises named after this classic way to eat doughnuts.

Doughnut Fact #5: An astronomical number of doughnuts have been sold during National Doughnut Week…

65 miles - doughnuts into outer-spaceHey, the astronauts need something to snack on too! …so many, in fact, that if stacked on top of each other they’d reach into space. That's over 65 miles high! That's a lot of doughnuts sold in the name of a good cause since 1991.

Share the doughnut love!

Doughnut Fact #6: New York is a city known for its giant buildings AND giant doughnuts!

New York holds the record for the largest doughnutNew York, home of the largest doughnut ever made... Utica, New York holds the record for the largest doughnut ever made, measuring in at 16 feet wide and 16 inches high and weighing 1.7 tons! They set the record in 1993 and have maintained it ever since.

Doughnut Fact #7: You may think you’re a champion doughnut eater, but can you put one away every 12 seconds?

That’s how quickly John Haight, the world record holder, ate in 1980. He consumed 29 doughnuts in just over 6 minutes, which is about 12 seconds per doughnut! Two brave fundraisers from The Children’s Trust tried to break this record in 2007, but it turns out that eating that many doughnuts so quickly is harder than it sounds… and it doesn’t sound easy!

Doughnut Fact #8: The first doughnut making machine was invented nearly 100 years ago

From Doughnut to Donut A Somewhat Factual History of the Donut | LooseKeysTV Adolph Levitt invented the first doughnut machine in New York 98 years ago in 1920. The machine was a huge success, and soon after doughnuts began to spread like wildfire.

Doughnut Fact #9: a basic Doughnut is easy to make, with just a few ingredients

Jam DoughnutsJam doughnuts - an absolute classic. Have you ever asked yourself: "What are doughnuts made of?" - well, wonder no more. Cook up a tasty treat using the recipe below; let us know how it goes!

Doughnut Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 4 tbsp caster sugar
  • 150ml/5¼fl oz milk, warmed
  • 225g/8oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 50g/2oz butter, melted
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten
  • 300ml/10½fl oz vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • jam of your choice

How to make your doughnuts

  1. Mix the yeast with half a teaspoon of the sugar and two tablespoons of the warm milk. Place in a warm place to rest for 15 minutes, or until frothy.
  2. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir in one tablespoon of the sugar.
  3. Make a well in the flour and pour in the yeast mix, the rest of the milk, the melted butter and the egg. Mix to make a dough and then knead, cover the bowl and leave to stand for 45 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  4. On a floured work surface, knead the dough for five minutes, then divide into 12 balls and place in a warm place for 30 minutes, or until they have doubled in size.
  5. Heat the oil in a deep pan until it reaches 190C/375F, or a cube of bread dropped in sizzles and turns golden in 30 seconds. (WARNING: hot oil can be dangerous. Do not leave unattended.)
  6. Gently lower the dough balls one at a time into the hot oil, in batches of two or three, and fry for 3-5 minutes or until golden-brown, and then carefully turn over. Remove from the hot oil with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
  7. Roll the hot doughnuts in the remaining sugar. Make a small slit in the doughnut with the tip of a knife, and fill with a teaspoon of jam. EAT!
(Thank you BBC food for the recipe!)

Doughnut Fact #10: National Doughnut Week has been a thing since 1991!


National Doughnut Week, sponsored by CSM Bakery Solutions, takes place all across the UK every year to raise money for The Children’s Trust. It’s been running for 27 years, ever since baker Christopher Freeman organised the first one in 1991, and now bakers and shops all over the country participate, with over £33,678 raised in 2017!

When is National Doughnut Week?

National Doughnut Week logo
The best week of the year for doughnut lovers, National Doughnut Week takes place every May in bakeries, cafes and shops across the UK!

How can I join in the fun?

Bakery Finder: a map showing the businesses involved in National Doughnut Week Use this handy map to find the closest participating business to you.

About The Children's Trust

National Doughnut Week supports The Children's Trust, the UK's leading charity for children with brain injury. We deliver rehabilitation, education and community services through skilled teams who work with children and young people, and their families. Our ambition is for all children with brain injury and neurodisability to have the opportunity to live the best life possible. Header picture: Finnish Doughnuts by Anneli Salo | CC BY-SA 3.0