Willamette’s Summer Market (History of the Doughnut or Donut?)

History of the Doughnut


Hi and welcome to another episode of Around The Neighborhood with me, Scott McMahon.  This is the show about the quest for fun, history, and mystery in our backyard.


And today, we’ll be heading back to another Wednesday at the Willamette Summer Market, so I can get my hands on some of those Grammy’s Donuts.  But before we head over there, let’s explore the story of where the doughnut came from.  And is it doughnut or donut?  Well, let’s find out!


Up here in the Portland Metro area, we have some iconic donut shops.  Of course, there’s the infamous Voodoo Donuts, Blue Star Donuts, which have closed down a few shops during this pandemic, but have been selling their donuts at places like Market of Choice … and lastly, one of my favorites, Pip’s Original Doughnut and Chai.  By the way, if you’re ever up in Northeast portland, be sure to swing by Pip’s to grab some of their doughnuts to help keep them going while we’re in shutdown.


But, I have to say, if you’ve never had one of Grammy’s donuts, then you’re in for a treat.


So, where did the doughnut come from?  Well, it looks like this magical dessert originated from the Dutch.  You know what’s interesting, is that at the Summer Market, you can also pick up some amazing gin from Gompers Distillery, named after Herman Gompers, a dutch holocaust surviver from Holland. Gin originated in Holland too.  So, we have the doughnut and gin from Holland, and in my past episodes I explored the history of chocolate chip cookies and shave ice, and it was the Japanese-American immigrants who brought with them their fortune cracker that became popular with Chinese-American restaurants to become the fortune cookie, and the Japanese immigrants who worked in the Hawaiian islands, brought with them the Cock-Kee-Gory (Kakigori), the shave ice treat.


Anyway, the immigrant stories continue!


In dutch, they called the doughnut a OHLY-GOOK (olykoek) meaning “oily-cake”.


The dutch brought with them all their baking goodness to the colony of New Amsterdam, which eventually became New York.  One of the earliest mentions of "doughnut" was in Washington Irving's 1809 book A History of New York, from the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty:[9]

Irving wrote, “Sometimes the table was graced with immense apple-pies, or saucers full of preserved peaches and pears; but it was always sure to boast of an enormous dish of balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called dough-nuts, or OHLY-GOOK (oly koeks): a delicious kind of cake, at present scarce known in this city, excepting in genuine Dutch families.

The iconic ring shaped doughnut that we know today appears to have its origins back in 1847, when 16-year old, Hanson Gregory, an American working on a lime-trading ship was dissatisfied with the greasiness of the twisted dough and the center was usually raw, so he punched out the center and created the ring shaped doughnut.  According to Smithsonian Magazine, it states that Hanson’s mother, Elizabeth Gregory, "made a wicked deep-fried dough that cleverly used her son's spice cargo of nutmeg and cinnamon, along with lemon rind," and "put hazelnuts or walnuts in the center, where the dough might not cook through", and called the food 'doughnuts'.


So, is it doughnut or donut?  For the most part, the longer spelling of doughnut has been used but it looks like one of the first references to the change in spelling was in George W. Peck’s book, “Peck’s Bad Boy and His Pa”.  In the book, written in 1900, it read, "Pa said he guessed he hadn't got much appetite, and he would just drink a cup of coffee and eat a donut."


But speaking of wicked good, it was in 1950 that a place called the Open Kettle in Quincy, Massachusetts changed its name to Dunkin’ Donuts and ever since, these iconic donuts help change the spelling to become interchangeable.


There’s a lot more history about the doughnut and all its variations, including the different styles, is it yeast based or cake based, how different countries have variations of the fried dough treat and more.


But I’m getting hungry and I’m ready to get my hands on Grammy’s Donuts.  You ready?  All right, let’s go!



Historic Willamette: http://historicwillamette.com

West Linn Historical Society: http://westlinnhistory.org/

Willamette Ale & Cider House: http://www.aleandcider.com/

Faballicious Sweets: https://www.faballicious.com/

Anchor Masks: https://www.facebook.com/anchormasks/

Dregs Vodka: https://www.dregsvodka.com

Just Rum: https://justrum.com/

Grammy's Donuts: https://www.portlandhomemadedonuts.com/

Wicked Goodness: https://www.wickedgoodnessoregon.com/



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