TIL the first doughnut machine was made in 1920 to meet the demand for doughnuts as a breakfast food item following WW 1. Adolph Levitt, a Jewish refugee who came to America fleeing czarist Russia, designed the machine and began selling fried doughnuts from his Harlem bakery in NYC.

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Levitt designed the machine so that the doughnut holes should be built in, not cut out. The doughnuts were then boiled in hot circulating oil, turned over to brown each side equally, and then placed on a moving ramp like little ducks in a row.


Some interesting history: The earliest origins to the modern doughnuts are generally traced back to the olykoek (“oil(y) cake”) Dutch settlers brought with them to early New York (or New Amsterdam). These doughnuts closely resembled later ones but did not yet have their current ring shape. One of the earliest mentions of “doughnut” was in Washington Irving’s 1809 book, A History of New York, in which he describes the confection as “balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat, and called dough-nuts, or oly koeks: a delicious kind of cake, at present scarce known in this city, excepting in genuine Dutch families.”


That was pretty much the only kind of doughnut available when I was a child (apart from very different “jam doughnuts”). Most seaside towns had machines and people selling them. The ramp would usually drop them into sugar, so they would be sugar coated, but they would not be glazed with anything else on them. They are so much a part of what I think of as “doughnuts” that I can’t think of the kinds of thing you buy from places like Krispy Kreme as real doughnuts. The key thing is that you would be eating them hot. Fresh doughnuts are really like nothing else.


What a great success story – I’m surprised more Jewish parents don’t name their sons Adolph


WW 1 Adolph is my guy.