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A Hole in Logic

Our staff writer thinks much too deeply about a pastry misnomer.

Imagine you walk into your classic mom-and-pop donut shop, the crisp smell of donut glaze hitting your nose. The display case is chock full of what seems like every donut imaginable, even ones you didn’t know exist, and some you wish didn’t exist (Froot Loop donuts). But something seems off. You look at the corner of the display case, where a tray of perfectly procured glazed pastries sit, labeled donut holes. The problem? Donut holes is the most incorrect name you could possibly choose to describe these desserts (or sometimes breakfasts). Let me explain.

First, let’s look at the history of the actual donut hole. The first modern donut is attributed to Captain Hanson Crockett Gregory, who in 1847 was aboard a lime-trading ship. There are many different claims as to how he decided to cut a hole in a donut, ranging from a donut being skewered on the ship’s wheel or trying to save ingredients, but most of them are considered urban legend. The most logical and likely story is that Gregory didn’t like the doughy middle of the donut, which occurred often because of how donuts were cooked during the time period, and cut it out. The origin of the actual hole part being consumed is unknown and debated, but somehow, somewhere, the donut hole was invented.

Although “hole” might not be as fitting a name as it’s made out to be. See, a “hole” is defined, according to Oxford Languages, as “A hollow space in something solid or in the surface of something.” This is referring to empty or negative space, basically just the air. Clearly, a donut center isn’t negative space, and who wants to eat air? Saying “Let’s eat donut holes” is pretty much the same as “Let’s eat donut air” which isn’t super appetizing.

The question now is, what should we call them, then? The answer is just about anything except donut holes. Personally, I think donut centers are an apt name, but there are plenty of good suggestions out there. A few ideas may include: Donut globes, donut spheres, maybe even donut balls? Donut carvings?! The point is, don’t say donut hole.

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In short, a donut hole just doesn’t make sense as a name. This story probably won’t change anything about the word crimes against donut centers, and you’re probably left thinking “Ok, but why?” Honestly, I don’t know either, but hopefully you’ll have it in the back of your mind whenever you hear someone say donut hole.

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