Happy (belated) National Donut Day! This American day of celebration for sugary breakfast rings occurred yesterday on June 7. Yesterday, people from across the nation stopped by Dunkin Donuts to receive a free donut. These consumers devoured the sticky treats without thinking about the history or science behind the donut. But, the history and science, particularly physics, is interesting. So, I will now discuss the connection between donuts and physics.
The Dutch brought the idea of deep-fried balls of dough over to the western hemisphere. Originally, the dough balls were spherical, solid, and small. Over time, as American confidence grew, potion sizes also increased. Donut makers tried making bigger and bigger donuts to attract more customers. The physics of heating, and heating efficiently then came into play. The large donuts burnt on the outside and remain uncooked in the middle. The dough wads did not heat evenly. Producers couldn't match the demand for larger donuts, because they couldn't prepare larger donuts. One man by the name of Captain Hanson Gregory then changed donut history. Captain Gregory made a circular cutter and removed an inner circle from the dough. And, the ring shape of donuts today was created!
The modern donut with an extracted center exists solely because one man thought about physics. Captain Gregory knew about thermodynamics and heating. He knew that for Americans to eat larger donuts, larger donuts needed to become more spread out. By increasing surface area, the donut heats and cooks faster and more evenly. To all of those donut lovers out there, thank Captain Gregory for the design of the classic ring donut.