Celebrated on the first Friday of every June, National Donut Day is a day to celebrate donuts and the women who served donuts to soldiers on the front lines during the First World War. It is a day that is mainly celebrated in the United States. Other donut shops around the world participate. Traditionally, a free donut is given out to customers of donut shops on this unofficial holiday.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of National Donut Day, which was started in 1938 in Chicago to honor of The Salvation Army “Doughnut Girls.”

There are many creative ways to celebrate National Donut Day, and many involve the use of premium chocolate.

From ifiGourmet, a wide array of chocolate decorations can be used to add elegance (and profits) to chocolate-covered, signature donuts to commemorate this special promotion. From triangle waves to mini ribbon spirals to multi-color swirls, there are numerous choices.

Dobla offers many types of chocolate decorations to help bakeries construct your own donut tower cake. Examples of chocolate decorations from Dobla include crushed curls (in dark, white or pink), chocolate mini pearls and stars. Dobla’s new Donut Topper allows you to create unique prints that provide your donuts with outstanding appearance and taste. Studies show that consumers are willing to pay more for a print-designed chocolatey topped donut compared to traditional donuts.

Barry Callebaut, a leading manufacturer in high-quality chocolate and cocoa products, has introduced a new chocolate that looks to join dark, milk, and white chocolate in the pantheon of chocolate types. Ruby chocolate is the first new natural color for chocolate in more than 80 years. Ruby chocolate from Barry Callebaut is described as an intense sensory delight, combining berry-fruitiness and luscious smoothness.

Contests are another way to put the spotlight on creative donuts. In 2017, Dawn Foods honored Rise’n Roll Bakery in Middlebury, Indiana, for winning the Dawn Foods National Donut Month contest, and the Cinnamon Caramel Donut from Rise’n Roll Bakery has been named the Official Donut of Donut Day 2018 by Dawn Foods.

The history of National Donut Day traces back a century to 1917 when The Salvation Army began a mission to provide spiritual and emotional support for US soldiers fighting in France during World War I. About 250 volunteers traveled overseas and set up small huts located near the front lines where they could 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 donuts in soldiers’ helmets, according to The Salvation Army. These tasty treats boosted morale and won the hearts of many soldiers. 

Nicknamed “Donut Lassies,” the women who served donuts to troops are often credited with popularizing the donut in the United States when the troops (nicknamed “doughboys”) returned home from war. During World War I, Donut Lassies served coffee and donuts to soldiers in the trenches. Rations were poor, so the donut idea was conceived as a means of bringing the soldiers cheer. Donuts were not the reason Salvation Army workers were in the fighting zones of France; they were there primarily to give spiritual aid and comfort to the American soldier and his allies. They were there to be a link with home and family. The Salvation Army continued to provide comfort, care and donuts to American soldiers during World War II.