Specialty doughnuts at Knead Donuts & Tea in Long Beach, California on May 27, 2022. Roughly 80 percent of doughnut shops in southern California are owned and operated by Cambodian refugee families. (Photo by Bing Guan for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The Key Role Doughnuts Played In World War I
By Crystal Antonace
According to ABC News, American Salvation Army officers Helen Purviance and Margaret Sheldon were sent to France in 1917 to bring positivity and comfort to frontline-serving American soldiers during World War I. To relieve these young men of their ill feelings, Purviance decided to look for eggs so the two Salvation Army officers could make these young heroes a baked treat that reminded them of home.
Purviance and Sheldon found doughnuts to be the easiest baked treat to prepare on the front lines, with the help of empty baking powder canisters and shell casings. Once The Salvation Army streamlined its process, numerous female morale-building officers were able to make up to 5,000 doughnuts per day and became nicknamed “Doughnut Lassies.”
During World War II, the American Red Cross sent small bus mobiles equipped with simple pleasures like newspapers, cozy sitting rooms, coffee, and fresh doughnuts, made by female volunteers known as “donut dollies.” These women and their efforts were renamed "Supplemental Recreational Activities Overseas," offering comfort and endless doughnuts to American soldiers in need of relief and assurance.