The Hole Story of the Doughnut

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In our home, a great amount of fiction is read and enjoyed. That doesn’t mean that we lack appreciation for a good non-fiction read now and then. About once a month or so, I go to my library’s online catalog and take a peek to see what new non-fiction picture books are heading our way.

Every once in a while I stumbled across a book like Earmuffs for Everyone!: How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs that not only share a bit of history and a biography but are super fun to read as well. A couple of weeks ago, I made another such discovery that spoke to my family in a sweet way.

The Hole Story of the Doughnut (Pat Miller). Yes! A book about the inventor of the doughnut! We seriously love doughnuts in our home so everyone loved this read.

Hanson Crockett Gregory, in 1844, went to sea at the age of thirteen. His life at sea began as a cabin boy but he quickly worked his way to cook’s assistant. Gregory continued to work hard and became captain of a clipper (the fastest ship on the ocean at that time).  After rescuing Spanish sailors from the sea, Gregory was awarded a medal of honor from Queen Isabella II.  Clearly Hanson Crockett Gregory was a man of diligence and worthy character.

But, um, can we talk about the doughnuts? This is exactly how The Hole Story of the Doughnut begins; by telling us a bit about the man that Gregory was. Then finally we travel a bit back in time to June 22, 1847 when Hanson Gregory was sixteen.

Breakfast on board the ship was the usual fare of coffee and fried cakes. Balls of sweetened dough were dropped into a pot of hot lard. The smell was delicious. Perfection..until you hit the middle of the fried cake. The middle was left raw and greasy. This earned these fried cakes the name of “Sinkers”.  Yum?

Ah, but Hanson used a bit of creative thinking and solved the problem. A lid from a pepper can cut perfect holes in the middle of these fried cakes. And Sinkers were a thing of the past. Doughnuts were born!

What does young Hansen then do? Tells his mom all about his fried cake perfection and she sets up market in a friend’s store. So let’s all give a big Thank You!! to Hansen Crockett Gregory and his mom.

Is This Really True?

Here is another aspect that we enjoyed about The Hole Story of the Doughnut. Not only did author Pat Miller give us the story of the doughnut but went a little further. You know how sailors’ stories go, right? The fish is always bigger, you know. So a couple of tales were shared about how doughnuts were “really” created.

The story of the creation of the doughnut has been confirmed! In 1941 a man named Henry Ellis challenged the claim Gregory had on the doughnut. But a panel of people came together and agreed that Gregory had the right and proper claim to the doughnut. Ellis later admitted that it was a publicity stunt. Tsk, tsk, Mr. Ellis.

At the age of eighty-nine, Gregory passed away at a sailor’s home in Massachusetts (which I found that tidbit fascinating) and was buried near the sea.  In the 1950’s his headstone disappeared. However, in 1982 Dunkin’ Donuts president, Richard Hart, had a new headstone placed at Gregory’s grave.  If you live nearby in Massachusetts, grab a dozen doughnuts, head to Gregory’s graveside, and share our appreciation for his creativity in the sea-tossed kitchen.

We enjoyed this quick read on the doughnut. The author’s note contains the information about the publicity stunt and the headstone. So my younger ones enjoyed the story of the creation of the doughnut and the older ones and I got a bit of extra info which is always nice. Even the two year old likes this book. Ok, the page with the doughnut with sprinkles is his favorite, but can you blame him? Now it’s time to make the doughnuts.

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