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The history of donuts is difficult to trace. Did donut history begin the first time a sweet dough was fried in oil? Does it start when the first hole was punched into a yeasted dough before frying? And what do oil balls have to do with it?

Donuts (or doughnuts, if you like) are, at once, a delicious confluence of international fried dough traditions and a distinctly American confection. In this video, you'll learn where donuts come from (to the best knowledge of the historical record) and how Donut Lassies came about during World War I.

Food History is a series from Mental Floss where we dive deep into the culinary stories that lead to the food on our plates. If you have an idea for a dish, cooking technique, or cuisine that you’d like us to explore in a future episode, tell us in the comments.
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