On the first Friday of June each year, National Doughnut Day is celebrated by the Salvation Army who created it in 1938 to honor the women who served donuts to soldiers during World War I.
Many doughnut stores in the United States offer free doughnuts on National Doughnut Day. In 2009, small doughnut vendors as well as large national franchises offered free doughnuts in the United States.
It all started in 1938 as a fund raiser for the Chicago Salvation Army. The focus was to help the needy during the Great Depression, and to honor the Salvation Army womenof World War I, who served doughnuts to soldiers.
Shortly after the US entrance into World War I in 1917, “the Salvation Army sent a fact-finding mission to France. The mission concluded that “huts” that could serve baked goods, provide writing supplies and stamps, and provide a clothes-mending service, would serve the needs of US enlisted men. Six staff members per hut should include four female volunteers who could “mother” the boys. (The canteens/social centers that were established by the Salvation Army in the United States near army training centers were called “huts”.)”
About 250 volunteers went to France and because of difficult logistics in providing freshly baked goods from huts that were established in abandoned buildings near the front lines and two brilliant Salvation Army volunteers hatched the idea of providing doughnuts.
The doughnuts were an instant success and soon many soldiers were visiting the Salvation Army huts. It is said that the origin of the term “doughboy” was created by the provision of doughnuts to US enlisted men in World War I. It is likely that the term was resurrected and became better known because it was used as early as the Mexican-American War of 1846-47.
The Salvation Army still uses National Doughnut Day as a fundraiser.