Doughnuts, etymologically speaking

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yumbo
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2003/10/13 11:56:05 (permalink)

Doughnuts, etymologically speaking

My darling 4 year old daughter has started taking words apart to find their meanings. She asked me a question about doughnuts that has me stumped. She says that the DOUGH part makes sense, but where does the NUT come from?

My guess is that "nut" is an abbreviation of "naught" or "zero," which comes from the shape of a doughnut.

Anyone else care to guess? It's keeping me up at night.

-Yumbo
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25 Replies Related Threads

    Rusty246
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2003/10/13 12:05:46 (permalink)
    Whoa, enroll that child in college! I have NO clue but will be sticking around to find out if anyone one else does, and I'll bet someone will know!
    #2
    Spudnut
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2003/10/13 12:10:29 (permalink)
    I found essentially the same information from two different sources:

    "The earliest occurrence of the word is in the work of Washington Irving (1809). He had to define the word, so we can assume that it was not a widely known dish at the time, at least to his audience. And, interestingly, he defines doughnuts as "balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog's fat". This suggests that doughnuts were...named...after nuts like walnuts or pecans. They were balls of dough that, when fried to a deep golden brown, resembled nuts. Doughnuts only took their torus shape to overcome a problem inherent in balls of dough - uncooked centers. Removing the centers ensured that the doughnuts would be cooked throughout."

    Now you can sleep at night again, I hope.
    #3
    Michael Stern
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2003/10/13 12:11:23 (permalink)
    Think of how donuts are cooled out of the fry kettle. They are strung on sticks ... like nuts made of dough on a wooden bolt. Let me see if I have a photo to illustrate...
    #4
    yumbo
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2003/10/13 12:13:34 (permalink)
    Geez. Thanks for that bit of info.
    #5
    scbuzz
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2003/10/13 13:15:01 (permalink)
    Here is the definitive history of them tasty little critters !!!


    www.mrbreakfast.com/article.asp?articleid=8


    At least ... thats what the sites claims !!
    #6
    tiki
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2003/10/13 17:19:22 (permalink)
    i was taught long ago that it was dough KNOTS originally--but having lived with an anthropoligist and folklore freak i know that i could be wrong! supposedly they looked alot more like pretzles in those days.
    #7
    hermitt4d
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2003/10/13 17:40:46 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by scbuzz

    Here is the definitive history of them tasty little critters !!!


    www.mrbreakfast.com/article.asp?articleid=8


    At least ... thats what the sites claims !!


    Fascinating article scbuzz. I had read something on this a couple of years ago, can't remember the source (but not Mr. Breakfast!) The story in that source was that the hole was accidental, when a cook heading to the frying kettle with some dough stumbled a bit and poked his thumb thru one of the balls of dough. The resulting fried dough proved to be better cooked throughout than the balls of dough without a hole in the middle, and so the doughnut was born. Nothing on the origin of the name, so far as I can remember, but I do recall reference to the European origin of fried balls of dough and the date was in the first half of the 19th Century. Wish I could remember the source.

    I fancy there's an argument in it , but not from me; just adding my $.02 worth.
    #8
    seafarer john
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2003/10/13 17:44:42 (permalink)
    In Denmark they have something called kleiner(?)
    They are kind of twisted into a knot and deep fried like a donut, so your anthropologist just may be right. Although i always thought Anthropologists always had a lot to be Anthroapologistic about....
    #9
    Wandering Chew
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2004/10/17 20:33:14 (permalink)
    That's interesting, but is there a best donut thread? going to Maine from Logan in Nov and need nominations- already think Congdons in Wells ME is great-others?
    #10
    BT
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2004/10/18 03:23:56 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Holzberg

    That's interesting, but is there a best donut thread? going to Maine from Logan in Nov and need nominations- already think Congdons in Wells ME is great-others?


    IMHO the best donuts aren't donuts. They are beignets which are pretty much the same but with centers (which DO get done, thank you).
    #11
    garykg6
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2004/10/18 10:55:30 (permalink)
    BT is my kind of guy,Beignets,when done properly,are simply magnificent....doughnuts vary so much in quality but usually,if you see a place that makes it's own beignet's,I believe you have a better shot at receiving a superior product....this is my own experience and not intended as a blanket statement of fact
    #12
    scbuzz
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2004/10/18 12:00:59 (permalink)
    When I experienced Beignets for the first time at Cafe Du Monde in NO, I was in heaven !!!

    They were great !!!!!! Not to mention the Chicory cafe au lait !!!!

    At first I was a bit troubled with the copious amount of powdered sugar ... but I quickly adjusted, Even if I did feel a bit like a sloppy coke addict the rest of the day brushing off all the powdered sugar from around my mouth, from my beard, and from the front of my shirt and pants !! It was all in good fun !!!
    #13
    renfrew
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2004/10/18 13:22:31 (permalink)
    New england has its fair share of independent donut shops. Some of my favorite are at Butler's Colonial Donuts in Westport, MA. Its reviewed on this site.

    But right now, the best donuts are at any of the local apple orchards. Cider donuts either plain or with cinammon and sugar. Russell Orchards in Ipswich, MA are excellent. Had some good ones at Clyde's Orchards in Mystic, CT just last week.
    #14
    carlton pierre
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2004/10/18 19:16:50 (permalink)
    Wow, some real intellectual roadfooders!! Learn something new every day. Thanks for the lessons.

    carl reitz
    #15
    BT
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2004/10/19 02:35:38 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by scbuzz

    When I experienced Beignets for the first time at Cafe Du Monde in NO, I was in heaven !!!

    They were great !!!!!! Not to mention the Chicory cafe au lait !!!!

    At first I was a bit troubled with the copious amount of powdered sugar ... but I quickly adjusted, Even if I did feel a bit like a sloppy coke addict the rest of the day brushing off all the powdered sugar from around my mouth, from my beard, and from the front of my shirt and pants !! It was all in good fun !!!


    I usually have mine with hot chocolate (can't handle caffeine on doctor's orders) and I'm so addicted I actually dump the extra powdered sugar from the plate onto the critters as I eat them so as not to waste any of it.
    #16
    michaelgemmell
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2004/10/20 18:14:42 (permalink)
    I visit New Orleans my first time this coming May, so now I know not to wear black that day!

    BT is so kind not to rub it in that donuts are hard to find in San Francisco. There's a Starbuck's on every corner to try to sell us their Seattle Ditchwater and forget our own superior coffee, while places that you think will sell donuts have bagels. If I'm wrong, tell me where to go (for great donuts, not Seattle Ditchwater) and I will stand corrected.

    Yumbo, your answer is no doubt in the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language, and I don't have that, but your library will. Many consider the OED their first source for information on etymology, the study of the origin of words.
    #17
    Redskin204
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2004/10/22 15:28:11 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by michaelgemmell

    I visit New Orleans my first time this coming May, so now I know not to wear black that day!

    ... There's a Starbuck's on every corner to try to sell us their Seattle Ditchwater and forget our own superior coffee, while places that you think will sell donuts have bagels. If I'm wrong, tell me where to go (for great donuts, not Seattle Ditchwater) and I will stand corrected.



    Hahaha. I'm proud to say that I've never set foot in a Starbuck's and have no intention of ever doing so, although I really have nothing against them that I'm aware of. I've just never been a coffee drinker. I enjoy my daily caffeine fix, but it usually comes from Coke.

    I take it you're not a Starbuck's fan?

    Redskin204
    #18
    speechpeach
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2004/10/22 16:21:11 (permalink)
    Now I am craving beignets with hot fudge sauce and vanilla ice cream..might have to go find a box of beignet mix and make them myself...
    #19
    tmiles
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2004/11/01 13:20:11 (permalink)
    I've had those NO beignets, and can taste them just thinking about them, but they are not as good as Butler's donuts in Westport Ma. I had passed the place before, and never stopped, but due to the review on this site I tried them out for the first time this past Saturday. The cream filled ones are the best I ever had.
    #20
    renfrew
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2004/11/09 15:01:53 (permalink)
    glad to see someone else has been opened up to Butler's. The best cream filled donuts. Did you have a regular cream filled or a long john? Both I hope!
    #21
    DaveM
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2004/11/09 16:04:32 (permalink)
    Call ahead to Congdon's-now that it is "offseason", their hours have changed.
    New drive-thru has helped.
    Still biggest coffee roll(physically) I have had in New England, and the absolutely freshest.
    Heading toward the Logan Airport are, if you detour through Saugus, you could try Kane's.
    You would definitely need mapping software.
    #22
    garryd451
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2005/01/01 23:34:24 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by BT

    quote:
    Originally posted by scbuzz

    When I experienced Beignets for the first time at Cafe Du Monde in NO, I was in heaven !!!

    They were great !!!!!! Not to mention the Chicory cafe au lait !!!!

    At first I was a bit troubled with the copious amount of powdered sugar ... but I quickly adjusted, Even if I did feel a bit like a sloppy coke addict the rest of the day brushing off all the powdered sugar from around my mouth, from my beard, and from the front of my shirt and pants !! It was all in good fun !!!


    I usually have mine with hot chocolate (can't handle caffeine on doctor's orders) and I'm so addicted I actually dump the extra powdered sugar from the plate onto the critters as I eat them so as not to waste any of it.
    #23
    jerseygirl127
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2005/01/02 07:34:42 (permalink)
    i would have to say - i agree with scbuzz.. the first time i had beignets was at cafe du monde in new orleans-- what a heavenly experience... they were AWESOME.. although i thought EVERYTHING about that city was AWESOME and of all the places that i've been that's the one that i'd go back to in a heartbeat....... ok.. back to topic--- beignets are the best.. but when you can't get them- i'll take a custard filled donut anytime... :)
    #24
    Richard Brooks Alba
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2005/01/10 17:49:35 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by scbuzz

    When I experienced Beignets for the first time at Cafe Du Monde in NO, I was in heaven !!!

    They were great !!!!!! Not to mention the Chicory cafe au lait !!!!

    At first I was a bit troubled with the copious amount of powdered sugar ... but I quickly adjusted, Even if I did feel a bit like a sloppy coke addict the rest of the day brushing off all the powdered sugar from around my mouth, from my beard, and from the front of my shirt and pants !! It was all in good fun !!!


    Love the beignets, hate the mess. I think beignets are an adult continuation of my childhood favorite, powdered sugar donuts. Of course, here in Californy, since we can't leave well enough alone - I've made beignets a coupla times where I flavored them. My favorite combo was an almond-flavored beignet with lemon-zestified powdered sugar. (Even when no longer hot, and just topped with some glaze made from the leftover sugar, they turned out tasty.) Because of the mess, I'm probably going to stick to eating beignets in NOLA - but I'm bringing a lemon in my pocket next time....
    Buen provecho,
    Richard
    Berkeley/SF, CA

    P.S. Good donuts in S.F.? Not impossible - Bob's [on Polk @ Sacramento] compares quite favorably to good donut-holes-in-the-wall I've tried on the east coast; they're among my favorite culinary retorts to my Kreme-ophile pals around here. (I need to determine the origin of the donuts that are served after mass at my parish in Berkeley - I often get blueberry, and occasionally cider, cake donuts that make me think impure gluttonous thoughts...that reminds me, I'm waaaaay overdue for confession....)

    P.P.S. Etymologically speaking, I've not encountered anything that authoritatively goes back before the 1809 Washington Irving citation mentioned elsewhere for "dough nut." While the "olykoeks" that the Dutch of that same part of New York are a possible culinary relative, I haven't found any etymological connection.

    P.P.P.S. Not to start a new thread or anything, but fresh churros or bunuelos are certainly on the same par with donuts & beignets - if you pay the least bit of attention to where you get them....

    P.P.P.P.S From the descriptions I've read of those early donuts, I keep picturing buttermilk bars - does anyone else here see them that way?
    #25
    lennonlover2005
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    RE: Doughnuts, etymologically speaking 2005/12/30 04:07:36 (permalink)
    I grew up on Dawn doughnuts...makes me think of my grandma...sigh....she called them all "friedcakes"....
    #26
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