Thanks to National Donut Day, the first Friday in June is among the sweetest of the summer.
While nearly every food has its own special day, National Donut Day has much deeper, more altruistic roots than most â�� and like many great firsts, this food holiday had its start in Chicago.
The first National Donut Day was celebrated by the Salvation Army in Chicago in 1938 as a fundraiser during the Great Depression and as a way to commemorate the work of the "donut lassies." According to the organization, the female volunteers "provided writing supplies, stamps, clothes-mending and home-cooked meals, and of course, donuts, for soldiers on the front lines."
In honor of National Donut Day 2013, Chicago's donut hot-spot Glazed & Infuzed invited HuffPost to take a behind-the-scenes look as the shop geared up for the celebration. Though just over a year old, the gourmet donut outpost has expanded to include four locations throughout the city, with a fifth location set to open in July.
"Donuts made their way to America in the early party of the [19th] century," says Glazed & Infused general manager James Gray, 39. "With the heavy Eastern European population in Chicago at that time, a lot of that influence is found in our donuts which have a breadier, yeastier, bolder flavor."
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Generally, Gray says, donuts come in two varieties: yeast-style and cake-style; Glazed makes both.
The shop says that they do plenty of experimenting to create their unique flavors like their popular maple bacon long john or the Bar Snack (a yeast donut with caramel glaze, pretzels, M&M's, peanuts and potato chips), but not every experiment makes it to the display case.
One that didn't survive?
"Honey wheat," says executive chef Tom Culleeney, 54. "It was earthy, wheat-y, brushed with honey â��"
"It was not fun," says Gray. "Too healthy. Too bread-y."
Culleeney says his favorite creation, though less frequently made, was a goat cheese blackberry donut. But in the Windy City, the native Chicagoan says simplicity still rules.
"I'm surprised how many old-fashioned donuts people eat in Chicago. They eat the same thing," Culleeney tells HuffPost.
The 813 W. Fulton Market flagship location produces donuts for all locations in city, plus custom orders, Gray says. Everything is made from scratch and in relatively small batches. When Culleeney fries up donuts in a fryer, he adds just a few at a time, turning each donut with what look like a pair of enormous wooden chopsticks.
Frying only comes after a long process of mixing the dough, rolling out it out, proofing, cutting and resting the pieces.
The last step for the donuts â�� for the basic but tremendously popular vanilla bean glazed ones, at least â�� is a thorough bathing in a waterfall of sweetness.
HuffPost asked Culleeney how he manages to resist a daily donut binge in the sea of sweets. "I used to be 40 pounds heavier!" he says. "But then instead of eating donuts all day, I started making them all day."