Is it National Doughnut or National Donut Day? Discuss
Updated June 2, 2023 at 5:23 AM ET
This story was first published on June 4, 2021.
True donut lovers likely have a plan of attack for Friday, which marks National Donut Day. (Pro tip for those who looking ahead to 2024: The day always falls on the first Friday of June.)
The annual celebration for bear claw lovers, jelly-filled fanatics and sprinkle super-fans is usually marked by shops handing out free fluffy, airy, sugary goodies. And this year is no different.
But we're concerned with the more pressing issue: Does anyone actually still spell it D-O-U-G-H-N-U-T?
Mary McCoy, senior librarian in the arts, music and recreation department at the Los Angeles Central Library, says that is her preferred spelling, though she admits "the O-U-G-H version is definitely unwieldy."
"It is purely personal preference because upon looking into it, they seem to be equally acceptable," McCoy explains.
Justifying her own choice, she says: "It just looks more official, though I don't know why a doughnut needs to be official."
Doughnut definitely came first
The word first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary in 1782. "However, donut is almost always in the mix," according to McCoy.
By the early 1800s, it seems, D-O-N-U-T became a legitimate rival to the longer version.
There have also been a number of alternate spellings over the last couple of centuries and none seem particularly colloquial one way or the other, McCoy says.
Some of the more bizarre spellings include D-O-N-O-T-E and D-O-W-N-U-T, both popular in the 1800s before fading away.
Even the cookbooks cannot decide
After examining the library's extensive cookbook collection, one of the largest in the country according to McCoy, she says there's a near even split between the two spellings.
"We have 310 books where it's donut and 307 where it's the other way," McCoy said.
Jessica Lopez, a supervisor at the iconic Randy's Donuts in Inglewood, Calif., says she's strictly in the D-O-N-U-T camp.
"I just grew up spelling it like that," Lopez said from inside the LA-landmark with the towering donut overhead. "I'm not sure who spells it the other way."
Ultimately, it doesn't really matter to her when she and her team are gearing up for the onslaught of customers who will line up for a bag of free donut holes.
Lopez doesn't think about how they're spelling it. "I just take their orders," she says, before rushing off the phone.
Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.