The date of 22 June 1847 is regularly cited as being the doughnut hole's birthday / Getty Images

The invention has been attributed to Hanson Gregory, a citizen of Rockport, Maine, who impaled his doughnut on one of the spokes of a ship's wheel

* This weekend 168 years ago, a violent storm rocked a lime-trading ship captained by Hanson Gregory, a citizen of Rockport, Maine. This presented him with a problem. He was, of course, obliged to continue steering the ship through the bad weather, but at that moment he was rather busy eating a doughnut. His nifty solution: to temporarily impale the doughnut on one of the spokes of the ship's wheel. O! The doughnut hole was born.

* That story of course has more holes in it than the doughnut itself, but the date of 22 June 1847 is nevertheless regularly cited as being the doughnut hole's birthday. In March 1916, the Washington Post managed to secure an interview with Captain Gregory, then 85 years of age, who asserted his claim to be the inventor of said hole while "mawing" doughnuts at sea – but noted that he was only 16 at the time, and that the circumstances were rather less dramatic.

 

* "Now, in them days we used to cut the doughnuts into diamond shapes," he explained to the reporter. "They used to fry all right around the edges, but when you had the edges done the insides was all raw dough." Gregory's wheeze would eventually help to soothe the digestive systems of the Western world: he took the cover off the ship's round, tin pepper box and used it to cut "the first doughnut hole ever seen by mortal eyes".

* On return to shore, he taught his mother, Elizabeth, the trick. She made batches of holey doughnuts for locals in Rockland and Camden, and they agreed that the loss of a small amount of dough was more than compensated for by the doughnut's even consistency. In 1947, a hundred years after his stroke of genius, a plaque at the Nativity Lutheran Church in Rockport was unveiled to mark the birthplace of Gregory, "Who First Invented The Hole In The Donut".

@rhodri

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