This could be the biggest conundrum to plague humankind after the chicken and egg question. Why is there a hole in a donut? There is a strangely staid logic behind this and you will thank the inventor, once you know it.
Initially, donuts were called fried cakes as they were the whole pieces of sweetened flour dough, fried deep in oil. They were available in different shapes including rounds, diamonds, and long strips. But when these cakes were fried, the middle of the dough used to remain raw, while the edges were fine.
Captain Hanson Gregory, a sailor on the American shores, noticed it and came up with an idea of making a donut with a hole at the centre. When the cruise got over and he went back home, Captain Hanson showed his mother how to cook the doughnuts with no centre. And she adopted the method and made the doughnuts similar way for his later voyages. Since then it became popular. It is said that on June 22, 1847, the new donut was invented.
Also, a popular story which was doing rounds suggested that Gregory loved his donuts a lot but during a storm, he needed both hands to steer his ship, so he skewered some of the fried cakes on the spokes of the ship’s wheel. This way he didn’t have to miss out on eating donuts even in the middle of a hailstorm.
However, in 1916 Gregory himself clarified and confirmed the first theory.
In Rockport, ME, you can see a plaque inscribed, “In commemoration. This is the birthplace of Captain Hanson Gregory, who first invented the hole in the doughnut in 1847. Erected by his friends, Nov. 2, 1947.”
According to some historians, the doughnut hole was a Dutch discovery in the U.S.