A very sweet timeline: The history of the New York doughnut

Inspired by the City Reliquary's new doughnut-themed exhibit, we pay homage to the preferred snack of New York's Finest



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A postcard of the Salvation Army Donut Hut in Union Square

A postcard of the Salvation Army Donut Hut in Union Square Photograph courtesy City Reliquary

As anyone can tell form the constant early-morning lines outside Dominique Ansel Bakery, New Yorkers are nuts for fried dough. Here's a look at the history of the sugary snack in NYC, with some help from the City Reliquary's new exhibit, "Keep Your Eye Upon the Donut."


Mrs. Anna Joralemon opens the city’s first shop selling the fried-dough cakes, on Broadway near Maiden Lane.


Washington Irving’s A History of New York offers the first known written record of the word doughnut.


Ellis Island opens; many immigrants are welcomed with a cup of coffee and a jelly doughnut, helping to make the treat an American staple.


Adolph Levitt, founder of the Doughnut Machine Corporation of America, debuts the automatic doughnut shaper. Levitt is also credited with being the first to drop the ugh from the word (to make donut), suggesting it would be easier for foreigners to pronounce.


Levitt keeps the innovations coming by opening Mayflower Doughnuts at Broadway and West 45th Street; it would become the first doughnut franchise.


The Salvation Army declares the first Friday in June National Donut Day, as a tribute to the “donut lassies” who served the fried confection to soldiers during World War I, both abroad and upon their return.


Eight years after the company is founded in Massachusetts, Dunkin’ Donuts opens its first New York store; on July 9, 2013, the chain opens its 500th NYC location.


Doughnut Plant founder Mark Isreal debuts his pastries, which are handcrafted daily using a 60-year-old recipe Isreal’s grandfather developed in the 1930sat his own stores in North Carolina. Its success helps usher in a wave of gourmet shops.


Pastry chef Dominique Ansel creates an instant hit when he introduces the cronut, a croissant-donut hybrid, to long (long) lines and much fanfare.

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Editor: Marley Lynch (@marleyasinbob)


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