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Maine always making food better a88ff5a0

Maine, Always Making Food Better

The Dutch created the first version of the doughnut, and they named their sweet treat olykoek, which translates to “oily cake”, not a very catchy name but apt. These pastries resembled the round shape of the modern-day doughnut but did not have a hole in the middle. Early Dutch immigrants brought their olykoek with them to America, and they quickly became popular. Thanks to a Mainer named Hanson Gregory, we now have the iconic ring-shaped pastry that is the favorite of many, including beloved cartoon character Homer Simpson.


Captain Hanson Gregory was only sixteen years old when he was working on a lime trading ship in 1847. One of the few foods onboard was doughnuts, though they simply referred to the treats as fried cake. Gregory enjoyed the fried cakes, but they were so dense that the middle would remain raw, and the edges would turn brown if they were cooked any longer. The raw dough gave him indigestion, so one day he used the ship’s tin pepper box to stamp out a hole in the middle of his doughnut, creating our modern-day ring-shaped pastry. He passed his brilliant idea onto his mother, who later published her recipe in Smithsonian Magazine, and a trend was born.

Gregory has long passed, but his hometown of Rockport has not forgotten his contribution to our favorite pastry. On the 100th anniversary of his discovery, a plaque was erected at his birth site, which is now a Lutheran Church. You can visit the plaque at 179 Old County Rd, Rockport, ME.

Doughnut vs. Donut

Dough is definitely needed to make doughnuts, but where did the nut come from? Gingersnap cookies used to be called ginger nuts, with the “nut” alluding to the cookie’s round shape. It is believed the same line of thinking was used when renaming the Dutch dessert because olykoek doesn’t quite roll off the American tongue.

The simplified version of this word was created by the New York-based Display Doughnut Machine Corporation. They abbreviated the name to “donut” because they believed it would be easier for foreigners to recognize. In turn, the immigrants would buy their equipment. This version didn’t catch on until the late 1900s when Dunkin Donuts adopted the simplified spelling, and their doughnut shop chain spread like wildfire across the east coast.

Holy Donut

Doughnuts have evolved immensely since the first olykoek. Without a doubt, one of the best places to get a doughnut today is the Holy Donut. There are two locations, one in Scarborough and one on 7 Exchange St in The Old Port. On any given day of the week, there will be a line of eager customers waiting to get their hands on these delicious doughnuts. On weekends these lines have been known to zig-zag through the bakery and out the door, but don’t let the crowd deter you! Service is not only friendly and inviting but efficient as well. Lines are never stagnant, and you’ll reach the register in no time.

These doughnuts come in classic flavors such as glazed, vanilla, and cinnamon sugar. However, for those with a more daring palette, the Holy Donut also offers delicious exotic flavors such as maple bacon, pomegranate, and Allen’s Coffee Brandy (Maine’s favorite liquor).

-Written by Stacy Oswald & Photo by Setyaki Irham