A History of Donuts (Doughnuts?): Sweet and Light Reading

As a Canadian, as and when the subject of donuts comes up, I almost automatically think of the Tim Horton’s restaurant chain. While I do frequent “Timmy’s” I don’t often indulge in one or the other of their donut creations. They tend to be a tad sweet, and I do need to watch my intake of empty calories.

But then I came across this article on the history of donuts. The article is more oriented towards the American donut history and experience (think Krispy Kreme and Dunkin’ Donuts!). But the article also revealed to me that the Dutch had an important role in the creation of Donut Culture.

And that intrigued me even more. I was born in Rotterdam, Holland, and as part of my cultural heritage am quite familiar with a certain Dutch New Year’s Eve custom: that of frying up huge quantities of “Olie Bollen” and “Appel Flappen” which are both very similar to donuts. Once piled high on serving plates, these are generously covered with a thick drift of icing sugar ensuring an ongoing calorie overload.

Here in Canada Tim Horton’s actually carry versions of these Dutch New Year’s Eve treats and call them “Dutchies” and “Apple Fritters”.

I should also mention that while the deep fryer is out on New Year’s Eve, it is also used to make another delicacy, various kinds and sizes of croquettes! Yummy stuff! Get out the mustard!

But back to the history of donuts. The article does give a very detailed description of the types of donuts, how and when they came about and the contribution of Dutch colonists in colonial New York (Nieuw Amsterdam) to their creation and evolution. It recounts the place donuts had in twentieth century history, and culture. I found it quite interesting, and hope you too will enjoy it: