There’s no doubt about it: People love donuts. In fact, with more than 10 billion donuts sold every year in the U.S. alone, you could say that this is one of the world’s favorite and most popular treats. And what’s not to like? Donuts are moist, not that filling, and most of all, sugary sweet.
Many people all across the globe can’t stop with just one donut. Could that be the reason why they’re sold by the dozen or why more and more kitchens are equipped with a mini donut maker? If you’re a donut lover, you might want to learn a little more about them. Below are 7 interesting facts about donuts that most people aren’t aware of.
1. Why Are Donuts Called Donuts?
Originally, donuts were called olykoeks, which translates to “oily cakes”. It’s a Dutch word, even though they would say “oliekoeks”. “Olie” means oil, and “koek” means cookie (or sometimes cake). Since the first donuts were always fried in oil, olykoeks was the chose name.
This fried dough was sold to people in New York when it was known as New Amsterdam. However, later on, a woman is said to have put nuts in her dough before actually frying it. Even bakers would often put nuts in their dough to give donuts more flavor. Eventually the word “olykoeks” was changed to donut. Dough + nut = Donut. Sounds like a solid explanation to me.
However, there’s another philosophy behind the name. Some people say that when donuts were first invented, they looked like wrinkly walnuts after the frying process. The terms “dough” and “nut” just seemed to go together because of that.
Today, the biggest controversy is over the spelling of the name. Is it donut or doughnut? I guess it’s up to the customer to decide!
Fun fact: The Dutch still have their “olykoeks”. Well, in a certain way. Nowadays they prepare so called “oliebollen”, which translates to “oil balls”. It’s their number 1 treat on New Years Eve. Really, I tried them, and they’re delicious. I think there are several different types, but the ones I had contained raisins, which were delicious. They also put sugar on top, but it’s more of a powdered kind of sugar.
2. Why Do Donuts Have Holes?
There are a few theories, but the most common one says that donuts have holes in them so that they can cook more evenly. When people first started to make donuts, they noticed that the dough on the outside cooked faster than the dough in the middle. Sometimes the outside of the donut would become overdone while waiting for the inside to become cooked enough to eat. When people decided to prepare donuts with holes, they would cook more evenly and were therefore much tastier.
3. Why Are Donuts Round?
At first, donuts were not round, but things changed. Originally, donuts were always made with some type of filling, such as jelly, custard, or cream. Donuts are filled up to the right size by using a machine. They changed the size to round because of the way that these machines fill up the donuts. With a round design, there are no weak points in a donut. Therefore, the filling doesn’t spew out easily. In other words, round donuts are not only more fun to eat than square donuts, but they’re easier to eat as well.
4. Are Donuts Pastries?
Once again, several explanations are possible. According to one definition, a pastry is considered anything that incorporates some type of fat into the dough. Since donuts use oil and (often) other types of fat when being made, they qualify as a pastry.
Another definition states that pastries always contain certain ingredients, including flour, sugar, water, baking soda, and several others. Anything that is served with most of these ingredients, including donuts, can therefore technically be considered a pastry.
Still other definitions state that a pastry has to be filled with some type of filling. While not all donuts are filled with something today, at one time most of them were, so they were definitely considered pastries. Even today, many people, including bakers, consider a donut a pastry.
5. Why Do Donuts Get Wet?
It’s mostly glazed donuts that have a “wet” look after a while. This can happen for several reasons. First of all, when donuts are left alone for a while, the moisture will eventually escape out of the donuts and cause them to dry out. Since there is sugar on top of a donut, some of that moisture will stick to it and give it that wet look.
Furthermore, if you let donuts sit around too long, the sugary glaze will naturally start to melt. This especially happens when donuts are sitting in warmer temperatures, like below a heat lamp.
Most of the time, a donut isn’t literally wet. Instead, the glaze itself is simply starting to liquify and melt. This makes it look as if it’s wet, while in fact it isn’t. Some donuts don’t have this problem because they’re covered with things other than a sugary glaze.
6. Why Are Donuts Eaten In The Morning?
Since practically the beginning of the donut craze, the sweet treat has been associated with breakfast. However, they were originally a treat sold in movie theaters. Since they’re a pastry-like product, people started to associate donuts with breakfast.
During the 1950’s and 1960’s, when donut places started to become popular, restaurants began to add coffee to their menu. As a result, people would often order a donut and a cup of coffee. Since coffee is a popular breakfast drink, having a donut in the morning happened naturally.
Nowadays people eat donuts at any given time, which is why so many of them are sold on an annual basis. Nevertheless, many people still consider them breakfast food, simply because of their resemblance to other pastry-like products and because they complement a good cup of coffee.
7. Why Are Donuts So Popular In Texas?
No one knows for sure, but there are a few theories. First of all, Southerners in general are known for their sweet tooth (sweet iced tea, anyone?). Since Texas is so big, it just makes sense that they would have a lot of shops that sell sweet treats.
Another theory states that when the Chinese first came to America, they weren’t allowed to occupy too many regular jobs. That’s why many of them set up donut shops or laundries. They were mostly set up in California, but then (maybe because of tax laws), many of them fled from California to Texas, where they still are today.
Texas has a good amount of “donut chain stores”. However, Texans seem to prefer the small mom-and-pop donut shops, most of which are still owned by Asians.
Personally I enjoy my donut once in a while. If I’m craving for a sweet snack, donuts can really be a treat (unless I grab my mini waffle maker). Of course there are many more questions about donuts, but these 7 facts grabbed my personal interest the most. I never tried to prepare donuts myself, but I think I actually will. If I do, I’ll keep you updated. Here’s a donut recipe that seems interesting.
I guess most of us have heard of Dunkin’ Donuts. If you’re interested, feel free to check out my Dunkin’ Donuts facts as well.
Some people argue about the question whether or not donuts are considered fast food. I think they are because you can grab one instantly, which is pretty “fast”. Anyway, let’s leave that question for another day. I hope my 7 donut facts have been of help. If you grab one, enjoy!
Last but not least: If you want to serve your donuts in style at the comfort of your own home, check out some of my fast food decoration ideas.