Free locally made Donuts will be offered during your visit to the museum on Friday, June 2nd in honor of National Donut Day.
Poppy seeds will also be offered to the public for beautification and remembrance. These symbols are related to the current WWI exhibit in the History Center.
Donuts were made popular during World War I by the Salvation Army as one of their efforts to support troops overseas. Since 1917, when a cheerful Salvation Army lassie handed a fresh doughnut to a homesick doughboy in France, The Salvation Army doughnut has symbolized loving concern for those in the armed forces.
There will also be poppy seeds available for visitors as they too were made popular in association with World War I. The remembrance poppy is an artificial flower that has been used since 1921 to commemorate military personnel who have died in war, and represents a common or field poppy, Papaver rhoeas. Inspired by the World War I poem “In Flanders Fields”, they were first adopted by the American Legion to commemorate American soldiers killed in that war (1914–1918).
If you have a moment or two tomorrow please visit the museum and enjoy a donut and pick up some poppy seeds to plant in your yard.
A history of Donut Day from the Salvation Army is reprinted below.
A taste of history: Fried dough, front lines & The Salvation Army
What do a small round piece of fried dough and one of America’s oldest charities have in common? You may be surprised to learn that there is actually a rich history between the tasty donut treats and The Salvation Army – so much so, we actually started National Donut Day in 1938.
Each year on the first Friday in June, National Donut Day honors Salvation Army Donut Lassies, dubbed Donut Girls, who made fresh, complementary donuts for American soldiers serving in France during World War I. Two Lassies named Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance cleverly thought to fry the donuts, made from the limited ingredients.
The scent of fresh baked goods permeated the air and drew homesick soldiers to the service “hut” where they could enjoy a taste of home. Word spread quickly among the soldiers – “If you’re hungry and broke, you can get something to eat at The Salvation Army.”
Approximately 250 Salvation Army volunteers traveled overseas during WWI to set up these service “huts” located in abandoned buildings near the front lines. One of the volunteers was Signa Leona Saunders from Brainerd, Minn., who wrote a memoir about her experience. In addition to serving donuts, the Donut Girls also provided writing supplies and stamps, and offered a clothes-mending service to the soldiers in battle.
Donuts became synonymous with Salvation Army and American WWI vets who were returning home with the nickname “doughboys.”
The tradition continued as the Donut Girls again served soldiers in World War II and the Vietnam War. Ask any veteran and it’s likely they remember the Salvation Army Donut Girls and these delicious reminders of home.
The very first celebration of National Donut Day raised funds for people in need during the Great Depression. Since then, the day is a way to honor the memory of soldiers on the first Friday in June.
Today, The Salvation Army provides 64 million meals, including donuts to millions of Americans every year. In Minnesota and North Dakota alone, 992,000 meals are served annually to people in need. The donut continues to be a comfort food served by The Salvation Army to those in need during times of disaster.
Original Salvation Army Donut Recipe
5 C flour
2 C sugar
5 tsp. baking powder
1 ‘saltspoon’ salt (1/4 tsp.)
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 donut circles, be creative. Salvation Army Donut 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 donuts gradually. Turn the donuts slowly several times.
- When browned, remove donuts and allow excess fat to drip off.
- Dust with powdered sugar. Let cool and enjoy.
Yield: 4 dozen donuts