Saturday, August 14, 2010


It was hard to imagine a sweeter illustration than a jelly doughnut for squishy, my last word in the Art House Co-op Canvas Project. In my ever curious, research-oriented mind I discovered help in the great doughnut vs. cruller debates of the early 1940s.

The New York Times: Sept 23, 1941 from the Associated Press: Washington, Sept 22

...the National Dunking Association, with headquarters at 50 East Forty-second Street, NYC, urged today that a similar service (the difference between) doughnuts and crullers (be performed).

Bert Nevins, vice president of the association, made public a letter to Paul V. McNutt... complaining that in some States, particularly in Pennsylvania, doughnuts, the round cakes with the hole, are called "crullers," an appellation reserved in other sections for a dainty that is shaped in a twist.

In reply Pierre Van Dyck of New Brusnwick, NJ wrote to the editor: Sept 29, 1941

Des gouts il n'y a pas a disputer. [There is no accounting for taste] Some like 'em firm in texture, made with baking powder. Others like 'em soft and springy, made with yeast. Some actually like 'em with jelly in the center or white frosting on top (there are people who admire Hitler).

Granting to every man his preference, I like only the kind made with baking powder. Twisted or in the form of a life preserver, I don't care. But the texture is paramount. I'd like to be able to order, in a restaurant or dining room, either doughnuts or crullers (I don't care what they're called) and get a firm and crumbly, not a squishy, spongy cake.

The debate rages on for another two years.

Doughnut or Cruller? by LH Robbins, The New York Times, Dec 12, 1943

This article states that so many people have written in to address the correct definition. A housewife from Connecticut passes down, from her great grandmother, the "truth about doughnuts... (they) are made of raised dough, cut into circular pieces and set to rise. After rising they are dropped into a kettle of fat, where they puff up into balls and become brown on the surface. Crullers and fried cakes, on the other hand, are made of dough leavened with baking powder – in colonial times soda served instead."

Ted Robinson chimes in: "I must set you and the Manhattan bakers right... The doughnut is made of raised bread dough, sweetened. The cruller is made not of bread dough, but of batter, and is twisted. Batter too, is the material of fried cake, and most commercial 'doughnuts', so called, are really fried cakes."

So much for the debate, and whatever they are called, they continue to be a delicious and well loved treat. And so I'll end as LH Robbins did with this, the Optimist's Creed:

"As you ramble thru life, Brother,
Whatever be your Goal,
Keep your eye upon the Doughnut,
And not upon the hole."

doughnut, cruller and fried cake inspiration from Wishill's on 15th Ave and McDowell

1 comment:

  1. Thanks a lot! I gained weight just looking at this delicious painting. It is the best in your word series. Confatulations.