The Origins of the Donut

Donuts have always been popular, but it seems that in the last decade or so the demand has exploded.  Local gourmet donut shops such as Voodoo Donuts in Portland, Oregon have turned the donut scene into a foodie wonderland.

Donuts (or doughnuts) are deep fried dough in the shape of a circle with a hole in the middle. With the popularity of gourmet donuts, exotic flavors, different shapes, and new toppings have become the norm.
Some donut shops, such as Krispy Kreme, prefer to stick to the traditional recipe.  Krispy Kreme became wildly popular because of capitalizing on the simplicity of the traditional donut only offering two varieties – classic glazed or chocolate glazed.
Unlike Krispy Kreme, most donut places provide a wide variety of flavors, textures, and colors. The wilder the flavors, the more popularity they seem to gain, but how did this craze really start? The truth is, we may never actually know. 
The roots of the donut can be traced back to Middle Eastern Cuisine. There is evidence of fried fritters in Ancient Greece and Roman times. It spread throughout European countries around the 1400’s, primarily as a treat enjoyed during Christmas and through New Years. 

Originally, there was no hole in the donuts, but as the recipe evolved so did their shape.  Adding eggs to the recipe produced a product that had a raw center. Creating a hole in the center was just a practical measure to prevent the raw center. 
Donuts appeared in the United States somewhere in the mid-19th century. One famous story is a ship captain’s mother made him fried cakes with nuts in the center and sometimes the dough would not cook all the way through. Uncreatively, albeit descriptively, calling them doughnuts. More than 50 years later, the ship captain stated that he created the first donut by cutting into the middle with the top of a round tin pepper box.  

Whether you like yours glazed or plain, jelly or cream filled one thing is for certain, the donut is here to stay and is likely to only get more popular with time.