It all started when I was about five-years-old. My reward for minding my mother all week was a Saturday morning treat with my father at the local diner. It was like a ritual. We would get there at 8 a.m. Dad helped me up to the revolving seat, ordered his usual coffee and donut and I would always say “I’ll have the same.” As a regular, the short-order cook behind the counter always saved us two seats at the end of the counter, and my favorite donut.
Too young to drink coffee, I always had warm milk. I didn’t care for hot chocolate, it seemed to spoil the taste of the donut. Dad carefully measured six tablespoons of coffee from his cup, put it in my milk, stirred it with fatherly pride and thanked me for being a good boy all week. He made me feel like I was accepted by the men in the neighborhood — he made me feel loved.
We have to thank Dutch settlers for the concept of modern-day donuts. In the mid 19th century they rolled cake into a ball and fried it in pork fat until it turned brown. Because the outside cooked faster then the middle of the cake, they stuffed the center with fruits and nuts and called them olykoeks or “oil cakes.”
But in 1847 an American ship captain Hansen Gregory solved the problem of the soft middle in oilcakes. He simply punched a hole in the middle of them making them flatter. The exposure to the hot oil eliminated the uncooked center, allowing them to puff up. Gregory is the man credited with inventing the classic hole-in-the-middle shape we have today.
Gregory’s deep-fried pastry was called “doughnuts.” By the early 1900’s, the word was shortened to “donut.” Today, “doughnut” and “donut” are used interchangeably in the English language.
They say Patron saints are able to transcend to the metaphysical and can intercede effectively with the gods for the special needs of their worshipers. Therefore, with my limited power bestowed upon me by this column, I do declare and ordain ships captain Hansen Gregory to be-drum roll please- the patron saint of donuts.
David Farside is a Sparks resident and political activist.