NATIVITY LUTHERAN CHURCH
Captain Gregory and the Hole in the Doughnut
The invention of the doughnut, which evolved from the round, fried Dutch cakes brought to colonial America, is usually attributed to Hanson Crockett Gregory, a sea captain born in Rockport, Maine. In 1947, a plaque commemorating the captain's achievement was affixed to his birthplace [now the site of Nativity Lutheran Church]. While it is generally agreed that the doughnut dates back to 1847, storytellers relate several different versions of Gregory's discovery.
One tale holds that Gregory was commanding a vessel called the Frypan when six men who fell overboard drowned because their bellies were full of fried cakes. Distressed by this tragedy and determined to avert it in the future, Gregory pondered the dilemma of the too-heavy fried cake. His solution was to jab a hole in the middle of the cake (thus, appropriately, making it resemble a life preserver) to lessen its danger to hungry sailors. One of the most frequently told stories about Gregory and the doughnut also takes place on a ship. During a sea voyage, Gregory and his crew struggled long and hard to guide their vessel through a ferocious storm. A thoughtful cook brought the valiant, exhausted captain a snack of fried cakes to eat as he stood at the ship's helm. When the ship suddenly encountered a huge wave, Gregory impaled his fried cake on a spoke of the wheel
to free both of his hands for steering (in a slightly different version of this story, the power of the wave's impact knocked the cake onto the spoke without Gregory's help). The proud captain publicized his invention after his return to Maine, and the doughnut became a favorite treat for seamen. Despite the colorful appeal of these stories, their veracity was questioned by Captain Gregory's descendent, Fred E. Crockett of Camden, Maine, during the Great Doughnut Debate. Held in October 1941 at the Hotel Astor in New York, the event was sponsored by the National Dunking Association, founded in 1938 and reportedly comprised of three million members. Crockett, however, dismissed the stories popularly told about his ancestor. He noted that the captain would have been only fifteen years old in 1847, too young to have command of a ship. Crockett related instead how young Hanson
Gregory had instructed his mother to poke out the middle of her fried cakes to avoid the sogginess that frequently lingered there. Mrs. Gregory shared her doughnuts with her neighbors and their fame gradually spread.
APA Citation for This Book Note: Doughnut, BookRags. Retrieved 1 April 2006, from the World Wide Web. http://www.bookrags.com/sciences/sciencehistory/doughnut-woi.html
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
God's work. Our Hands
Nativity Lutheran Church
179 Old County Road
Rockport, Maine 04856