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Did You Know? A Sailor From Maine Invented The Modern Day Doughnut

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Getty Images

If you enjoy a delicious doughy concoction with your coffee every morning, you have a sailor from Maine to thank for the brilliant idea. 

The sailors name is Hansen Gregory, originally born in Rockport, Maine before settling down and becoming a noted ship captain in Quincy, Massachusetts. That ship captain won’t be remembered for battling an epic beast at sea or corralling new undiscovered species out of the ocean, instead he’ll be remember for inventing the modern day doughnut.

According to the New England Historical Society, Gregory was a 16-year-old sailor on a small schooner in the mid-1800’s when he began to come up with the idea for doughnuts. In an interview with the Washington Post, he said this,

“Now in them days we used to cut the doughnuts into diamond shapes, and also into long strips, bent in half, and then twisted. I don’t think we called them doughnuts then–they was just ‘fried cakes’ and ‘twisters.’ “Well, sir, they used to fry all right around the edges, but when you had the edges done the insides was all raw dough. And the twisters used to sop up all the grease just where they bent, and they were tough on the digestion.”

It was after consuming all that raw dough and grease that Gregory had an epiphany.

“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!”

Voila! The modern day doughnut. Gregory didn’t stop there though. He knew he had invented something good, so he returned home to Camden, Maine and showed his mother what he had come up with. She loved the idea, began making doughnuts and started selling them in Rockland. The world has never looked back.

There’s a plaque honoring Captain Hansen Gregory in Rockport today. Without him, we wouldn’t be enjoying any delicious doughnuts from Dunkin’ Donuts, The Holy Donut or Ton’y Donuts. Here’s to you Captain!

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