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COLUMN: Even the mighty doughnut gets its own day

First observed in 1938 to honour Salvation Army volunteers who served the popular snack to First World War soldiers, pastry lovers mark National Donut Day on June 2
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“With a doughnut in each hand, anything is possible.” — Jameela Jamil

It's great to see the warmer weather, sunshine and summer season gearing up.

June is a busy month for our family. With one long weekend under our belt, June brings the end of the school year for the kids, the conclusion of the cadet training year, and the process of ramping up summer plans kicks into high gear.

Lucky for us, the start of June brings a celebration of just the type of fuel we need to jump start our summer. That's right, National Donut Day!

Each year on the first Friday of June, Canadians celebrate one of our unofficial national favourite indulgences — the doughnut.

This day is a perfect excuse to indulge in one or two of these fried-dough delicious cakes. Doughnuts and doughnut shops can be found at almost every intersection and rest stop in the country.

Celebrated in song and story, and thanks to certain famous hockey-player-turned-entrepreneur, it has become a symbol of our collective Canadian identity.

In America, National Donut Day was first observed in 1938 to commemorate Salvation Army volunteers who served doughnuts to the soldiers of the First World War.

During the war, in 1917, the Salvation Army sent a convoy to France to try and find out what the American soldiers on the front lines needed and missed from back home. They found that the troops needed places where they could socialize, have their clothes mended and have food and confectionary from back home.

These centres were built and called "huts," and female volunteers were present there to serve the troops.

More than 250 Salvation Army volunteers were deployed to France to work in these huts. The social centres were set up in old, abandoned buildings so the women found it hard to provide freshly cooked food.

The alternative they found was doughnuts, which were often fried in oil inside the soldiers' helmets. These women became known as Doughnut Lassies or Doughnut Girls, and provided a source of comfort to the soldiers with their baked goods. The doughnut became a much loved and celebrated comfort for the soldiers in the trenches.

The first National Donut Day was officially observed in 1938 in Chicago to raise money for the Salvation Army. This was done to help those who were hit by the Great Depression. It was also a way to honour the bravery and service of the Salvation Army Lassies.

In Chicago, National Donut Day is still commemorated with a fundraiser for the Salvation Army. It even has the support of iconic American doughnut-selling establishments such as Krispy Kreme and Hurts Donut.

So this year, on Friday, June 2, it's your opportunity to help celebrate National Donut Day!

We are fortunate enough to have many bakeries and shops offering a wide selection of sweet treats in and around Simcoe County, so it's the perfect day to buy your favourite doughnuts or try new ones. Why not share them with your family, friends and co-workers.

I had the opportunity to do just that. A few weeks ago, I got the chance to pop into a new doughnut shop here in Barrie and visit a few of our Georgian College culinary graduates in action. I love to see our students as they move forward from our programs and doing amazing things.

I was looking for a treat to share with the officers and staff of the Air Cadets, and what better than four dozen gourmet doughnuts from Maverick's Donut Company.

We were not disappointed.

Located in south-end Barrie at 490 Mapleview Dr. W., Unit 10, it is owned and operated by Nichole Lemon and Camden Scott. The couple moved to Ottawa in 2018 when Camden was stationed there while serving in the Canadian military.

While in Ottawa, Nichole began working at the Maverick’s Donuts Alta Vista location, working her way though the many roles of the business discovered her passion for baking, the doughnut business and the community connections that comes with being a business owner. They are extremely happy to be bringing a new, fun and exciting location of Maverick’s Donut Company for doughnut lovers in the city!

The couple wanted to branch out and return to in their local community and thought that Barrie would be the perfect place to start their new venture as business owners.

With a very strong family and community connection to our region, they are looking forward to opportunities to partner with other community members and local business owners from Barrie and the surrounding areas.

Generally, people tend to go to the established, large-scale doughnut shops — whether it's Krispy Kreme, Dunkin' Donuts or Tim Hortons here at home — to get their favourite cake, but independent and handmade doughnut shops are growing in popularity.

So, this year I hope you get out and grab a dozen on Donut Day. Support our local bakers and remember …. life without doughnuts is like a day without sunshine.

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Daniel Clements

About the Author: Daniel Clements

In his bi-weekly Chef's Table column, Daniel will be looking at everything from local crops and trends in the business to seasonal delights and the local restaurant scene
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