Believe it or not, a man from Camden, Maine, claims to have invented the hole in the doughnut. And to back him up, there’s a plaque commemorating his “creation” near Clam Cove in Rockport, Maine.

According to an article in the March 26, 1916, issue of the Washington Post, Captain Hanson Gregory, a sailor, claimed to have invented the modern day ring-shaped doughnut while on a lime trading ship in 1847, when he was 16 years old.

The man claims that the doughnuts of his youth would cook perfectly around the edges but would remain raw in the middle.

“Well, I says to myself, ‘Why wouldn’t a space inside solve the difficulty?’ ” the man told the Post. “I took the cover off the ship’s tin pepper box, and—I cut into the middle of that doughnut the first hole ever seen by mortal eyes!”

When asked by the reporter if he was pleased with his creation, he responded: “Was Columbus pleased? Well, sir, them doughnuts was the finest I ever tasted. No more indigestion—no more greasy sinkers—but just well-done, fried-through doughnuts.”

bobs-donuts
At Bob’s Donuts in San Fransisco, you can order a donut as big as your head. Credit: Bob’s Donuts

Despite the article in the Post and the plaque in Rockport, there are plenty of people who think this man’s story is half baked. A blogger by the name of Joe Pastry notes that in 1847 oily cakes, as the pastry was sometimes called, were made with yeast dough. He goes on to note that “a disk of light, yeasted dough dropped into a vat of hot oil has no trouble cooking all the way though.”

And anthropologist Paul R. Mullins points out in his book “Glazed America: A History of the Doughnut” that recipes for the modern doughnut were mentioned in cookbooks as early as 1803.

Still, the sailor’s story makes for an interesting tale, even if it’s not the “hole” truth.

Now that you know the story, what’s the name of the man who claims he invented the hole in the doughnut?


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