Doughnut Chains

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

Following World War I and piggybacking on the sinker’s new celebrity, several entrepreneurs made a stab at mechanizing the doughnut-making process. The most successful by far was Adolf Levitt, a Russian immigrant who founded the Doughnut Corporation of America. His doughnut-making gizmo, which made its debut in 1920, and accompanying proprietary mix eventually came to dominate the commercial bakery market. Levitt publicized October as doughnut month (doughnuts were a favorite Halloween treat) and sponsored the National Dunking Association. In 1940 the Association boasted 3 million members, including actor Zero Mostel, future television host Johnny Carson, and even choreographer Martha Graham. Levitt’s Mayflower shops were the first national doughnut chain.