The Doughnut Lassies
In the midst of WWI, Evangeline Booth sent 250 Salvation Army volunteers overseas to support the US soldiers fighting in France. There, they set up small huts located near the front lines to give soldiers clothes, supplies and baked goods.
After discovering that serving baked goods would be difficult considering the conditions of the huts and the limited rations, two volunteers – Ensign Margaret Sheldon and Adjutant Helen Purviance – began frying doughnuts in soldiers’ helmets. These tasty treats boosted morale and won the hearts of the soldiers.
In addition to serving fresh-fried pastries, "Doughnut Lassies" provided spiritual aid and comfort. They were a link home to family and friends. Their work on the front lines was rekindled during World War II.
The Doughnut Lassies are often credited with popularizing the dougnut in the United States when the troops, "Doughboys," returned home from war.
Doughnut Day Facts
- The Salvation Army celebrated the first National Doughnut Day in 1938 in the city of Chicago as a way to honor Salvation Army “doughnut lassies” from World War I.
- The Salvation Army started National Doughnut Day as a way to raise funds and bring awareness to the Army’s social service programs during the Great Depression.
- The Doughnut Lassies also provided writing supplies, stamps, clothes-mending and home cooked food for soldiers.
- Around 10 billion doughnut are made in the US each year.