We were in the Wonderopolis kitchen making breakfast the other day when we heard the toast and the cereal telling jokes.

Toast: Hey cereal! Why did the donut have to go to the dentist?

Cereal: I have no idea. Why?

Toast: Because it needed a chocolate filling!

Cereal: Ay yi yi. You must have forgotten your butter, because that was really dry!

OK…so breakfast food humor might not be all it’s cracked up to be. But we bet you wouldn’t mind a donut, would you, especially if it had chocolate filling?

Donuts — sometimes spelled doughnuts — are tasty treats made from fried dough. They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and flavors. Do you have a favorite type of donut?

Probably the most popular and familiar type of donut is the classic ring-shaped donut with a hole in the middle. Although these basic donuts can come in many different flavors with all sorts of different toppings, the most common type features a basic sugar glaze coating.

Many children are fascinated by the hole in the middle of the donut. Why is it there? What purpose does it serve?

There are a couple of common theories about the origin of the donut’s hole. One of the most popular credits American seafarer Hanson Gregory with inventing the donut’s hole in 1847 while aboard a lime-trading ship. He was just 16 years old at the time.

As the story goes, Gregory wasn’t happy with the doughy consistency of the fried cakes served on the ship. Although the outsides and the edges were crisp, the centers of the donuts were always greasy and doughy.

Gregory suggested punching a hole in the middle of the fried cakes, so that the insides of the cakes would cook as evenly as the outsides. Experts believe that this reason makes sense, because of the way that donuts are cooked.

When dough is placed in a fryer, the outsides and edges will cook quickly, because they’re exposed to the hot oil. To fully cook the insides of the dough, the dough would have to stay in the oil for a longer time, which would lead to the outsides becoming burnt.

Punching a hole in the middle of the dough, however, allows the insides and the outsides to cook evenly, creating a perfect donut. There may be another reason for the holes in donuts, though.

Donuts became popular in America around the same time bagels were becoming popular. Bakers and street vendors would often sell bagels stacked on long sticks or strung on a long rope. Some people believe that the holes in donuts allowed them to be sold in a similar way.

So what happens to all those donut holes that are cut out of the dough? Many people believe that those pieces of cut-out dough are what are used to make donut holes, which are those little round donut pieces that so many kids love to eat with milk.

In truth, though, many donuts with holes don’t actually have any dough cut out of them to make their shape. Instead, special machines spray dough into a fryer in a circular pattern. The donut holes you buy at the bakery or grocery store are usually made out of dough simply cut into small squares!


94 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (36 votes, avg. 4.64 out of 5)
  1. I love doughnuts! One time I got lucky and 2 doughnuts were stuck together and the man had to rip them a part. He tore 1 and a half off so I got extra doughnuts. My dad wasn’t happy.

    P.s. I got the first comment! Hooray!

    • That’s a SUPER SWEET donut story, Adam! Thanks so much for sharing it with us and for being the first Wonder Friend to leave us a comment today! We hope you have a FANTASTIC Friday! :-)

  2. I think tomorrow’s wonder of the day will be what is the temperature in Antarctica? My favorite donut is chocolate topping with cream in the middle. Yesterday I thought this wonder would be about Black Holes but that guess was not even close to why do donuts have holes.


  3. I think tomorrow’s wonder is about how does rain form. Anyway, this wonder makes me hungry for some doughnuts! Is there any way you could do a wonder about cake decorating.

    Your wonder friend, Abrianna

  4. I love donuts. They are awesome. Articles like this is why I love to come to wonderopolis. Wonderopolis, you are awesome…

    • Well, we think your comment is REALLY AWESOME, Madison! Thanks for hanging out in Wonderopolis with us today and learning all about donuts and donut holes! We appreciate how much you enjoy exploring and discovering new, interesting information by checking out our Wonders of the Day! :-)

    • It kind of makes you wish you could grab one of the donuts through the computer screen and have it for a snack, doesn’t it, “Wonder?” We think they all look WONDERful! :-)

  5. Our class loves to eat donughts and the our favorites are boston cream, and sprinkle donughts. Have a fun day thinking about donughts, umm, ummmm, good.

    • Boston cream and sprinkles…YUM! Thanks for sharing your favorite donut flavors with us, Resurrection! We appreciate your comment and hope you all have a WONDERful day! :-)

    • We think donuts are AWESOME to WONDER about, too, don’t you, Rahul? Thanks for being a SUPER Wonder Friend! :-)

    • Thanks so much for your comment and your opinion, Wonder Friend! We’re sorry you didn’t care for the SWEET humor in today’s Wonder of the Day®! We hope you have a FUN Friday! :-)

    • We think they’re pretty cool to WONDER about, too, Zach! Thanks for sharing your comment with us and for stopping by today’s Wonder of the Day®! :-)

  6. DONUTS ARE SO GOOD! You guys put the coolest wonders. I wanted a donut this morning. My friend Zach loves them, too! Can you guys do someting for soccer.

  7. Our class thinks that it was funny how the donut in the video was bigger than the little boy! We were also shocked to find out that donut holes do not really come from the middle of the donut…..bummer. Some of our favorite donuts are: glazed, chocolate, strawberry frosted, maple and cream filled, yum:)

    • You guys are really making us hungry with your favorite donut flavors, Mrs. Homolya’s third period class! Those all sound delicious! Thanks for sharing something cool you learned by exploring today’s Wonder together…you guys ROCK! :-)

  8. That made us want donuts. Please send us donuts in the mail. (Liam)

    We like maple, white powder, chocolate with sprinkles, apple fritter, red velvet, white frosting with sprinkles, and ALL donuts.

    Happy Friday Wonderopolis!

    • We think those flavors sound AWESOME, KF Dragons friends! We haven’t ever tried a red velvet donut before…YUM! we WONDER where we can find one in Wonderopolis? We think it would be really great to get some donuts in the mail, too, Liam! :-)

  9. All of us WANT DONUTS!!! YUMMM. Donuts are awesome and make our mouths water. Please keep your background forever. Donuts make us very very hungry and it’s almost lunch. We think tomorrow’s wonder might be about Antarctica or ice, maybe how ice got to Earth. We all went doughnuts for the wonder today! How dare you make us hungry. Have a donut today and enjoy your weekend.

    • What a SUPER, FANTASTIC, AWESOME, WONDERful comment you guys shared with us today, Mr. Draper’s Class! We didn’t mean to make you go “donuts” for today’s Wonder! We like the background, too! We wish there was smell-o-vision or taste-o-vision on our computers. Then we could all enjoy those yummy treats even more! :-)

    • Hi, Abby! Thanks for sharing that you love donuts…we love them, too! We hope you have an AMAZING day today! :-)

  10. We think tomorrow’s wonder might be about ice on the ground.

    We love doughnuts! Most of our class’ favorite doughnut is the chocolate glazed doughnut with sprinkles!

    Mmmm. We need a field trip to Krispy Kreme! ;)

    • We think a field trip to Krispy Kreme sounds like LOTS of FUN, Miss Kirsten’s Kindergarten GT Class! It’s really cool to see how donuts are made there. We especially like how they go through the icing waterfall…YUM! Thanks so much for making our day more WONDERful with your comment. We appreciate you guys! :-)

    • There are MANY, MANY Wonder Friends who agree with you about that, John! Thank you for visiting Wonderopolis today and sharing your comment with us! :-)

    • We’re not sure how they make perfect donut “middles,” Mrs. Foster’s Class…we’re just glad that they do! We’re also glad you guys are donut fans just like we are here in Wonderopolis! :-)

  11. I have a question with lots of flavor. Who invented doughnuts and why? Have my answer glazed down below my question.

    • Hi, Evan! We’re glad you’re WONDERing more about donuts! Before the idea developed to remove the center of the dough prior to frying, donuts were more like fried cakes or fritters. We encourage you to “sail” back through today’s Wonder to learn WHO history says most likely came up with the idea for donuts and why! :-)

    • That sounds like a really good reason why donuts have holes, Dylan! We like the creative way you think about food! :-)

    • Today’s Wonder of the Day® seems to have had that affect on LOTS of Wonder Friends, Monnie (including almost everyone here in Wonderopolis!)! In fact, we would like to have a donut right now…how about you? :-)

    • Having a hole in the middle does make donuts easier to hold, we agree, but it also helps them cook more evenly, SuperStar! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about donut holes today…we appreciate your comment very much! :-)

    • But our name IS “Wonderopolis,” Abby! There are LOTS of great folks who live and work here in Wonderopolis, so it makes it easier to say we are all “Wonderopolis!” You know what? We think you are an AMAZING Wonder Friend! :-)

  12. This background is sooo yummy! I feel like I want to reach out and just grab a donut and eat it! Why are donuts spelled two different ways?

    • We agree with you about the background this week, HoneyBuzzer…YUM! That’s a GREAT question about the two different ways of spelling donut, too! We’re not sure why some people spell it “donut” and others spell it “doughnut.” We’re not picky, though…we’ll eat them both! ;-)

  13. Hey wonderopolis! It’s me Traisha again. I’ve always asked that question. But going on here answered it!! Thank you. My class And I love your website!!
    -Traisha (:

    • We’re glad you discovered some SWEET facts about why donuts have holes, Traisha! Thanks so much for sharing your comment with us today! We hope you AND your classmates have a TERRIFIC week! :-)

    • It makes us REALLY happy to hear that you visit us everyday to learn new things and have FUN, Jon! Thank you for telling us that today! We think the doughnuts are fried so that the yeast in the dough hits the hot oil and “puffs up,” making the doughnuts light and airy. Frying them also gives them a WONDERful golden color! :-)

  14. This spurred a new wondering from one of my students. He wants to know where the name donuts came from, considering that they are not made of nuts:)

    • That’s a GREAT Wonder, Melissa! We think it would be SUPER fun to learn the name origins of some of our favorite foods! Please let your student know that everyone in Wonderopolis is really proud of him for WONDERing even MORE about donuts after you guys explored this Wonder together! :-)

  15. I have a confession. I only like doughnuts with jelly in them. I am told that is a crime against the donut. Does any one there like jelly doughnuts?

    • We like ALL types of donuts here in Wonderopolis, Sammy! We think jelly donuts are yummy, too (and sprinkled ones, and glazed ones, and cake donuts, and…)! :-)

    P.S. Did you ever think about making a wonder about unicorns?? That would be gnarly!!

    • We’re so glad you liked the video for this Wonder of the Day®, Gianna! Thanks for hanging out in Wonderopolis with us today! :-)

    • Hi, Colin! Thanks so much for letting us know you like donuts…we like them, too! Thanks, also, for leaving us this SUPER comment! :-)

  17. I love donuts, they make me all donuty. Why do we sell donuts and who invented them? Thanks, wonderopolis!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • That’s a cool word you used to describe how you feel about donuts, Wonder Guy 4! We think it would be awesome to feel “donuty!” We think people sell donuts because they know how good they are and that other people will buy them. We encourage you to re-explore this Wonder of the Day® to discover how history thinks donuts were invented and by whom! :-)

    • It’s WONDERful to hear from you again, Traisha! Thanks for letting us know you have WONDERed about donuts before! We’re glad you found out some SWEET new facts about them by exploring this Wonder of the Day®! Thanks for being an AWESOME Wonder Friend! :-)

    • That’s a FUN way to think about it, Levi! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about donuts with everyone in Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • It’s not hard to crave donuts when you discover such new, interesting, YUMMY facts about them by exploring this Wonder of the Day®, Claire! Thanks for hanging out in Wonderopolis with us today! :-)

  18. I loved this article because if I think back, I actually did have a frosted doughnut for breakfast. But, I thought that this was very interesting that doughnuts were created on a military ship! Whenever I always spend the night at my friend’s house, we always eat doughnuts for breakfast. The next time we have doughnuts, I will be sure to tell them that. My favorite Wonderopolis articles are the ones about food. That is so funny that this one is about the same food I had for breakfast.

    • We think the FOOD-related Wonders are super AWESOME, too, Annie! Thanks for sharing something cool you discovered by exploring this Wonder! We bet your friend and her family will really like learning something new about donuts, too, the next time you have a sleepover! :-)

  19. I love going to Dunkin Donuts and getting donuts there. I also get the baby donuts and my mom said that they are the middle of a donut. In my Girl Scout troop, we went to Krispy Kreme when it was still open and we got to make our very own donuts.

    • HOW SUPER COOL that you got to make your very own donuts, Mrissa! That is something we just KNOW many Wonder Friends (including almost all of us here in Wonderopolis) would be so excited to experience! Thanks for sharing your comment with us today! :-)

  20. Also, June 1st is donut day at Dunkin Donuts, so stop by your local Dunkin Donuts for a FREE dounut. Also remember that donuts ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!

    • We think donuts ROCK, too, Mrissa! Thanks for sharing about donut day on June 1st. The only thing better than a donut is a FREE donut (with sprinkles)! We’re happy you stopped by this Wonder of the Day® today! :-)

  21. Hi, Wonderopolis. I love the website. Resurrection is my school, and we love the website. You should do a wonder like is the cave with Mary with tears real? Because it sounds really cool.

    • Hi there, Mandy! Thank you for sharing that you and your classmates at Resurrection enjoy visiting Wonderopolis and learning new things together every day! We think that’s AWESOME! We also appreciate you letting us know what kind of future Wonder of the Day® you’d like to explore! :-)

    • We think a FREE donut would be a WONDERful treat, Marina! Thank you for sharing about your trip to Krispy Kreme. We agree…we love donuts, too! :-)

  22. Dear Wonderopolis,

    We like donuts too! I learned how donuts got holes. It was a neat thing to learn. My favorite donut is Canadian Maple at Tim Horton’s.

    Have a good day Wonderopolis!

    • Hello there, Lauren, we’re so glad you’re WONDERing with us about those delicious treats (also known as donuts)! Isn’t it cool to think about how those holes are perfectly round, every time?! We think the Canadian Maple donuts sounds tasty– we are getting hungry just thinking about it!
      Thanks for sharing your comment, Wonder Friend! We hope you have a great time in Mrs. Phillips’ class today! :)

    • HOORAY, thanks for sharing your WONDERful comment with us, Lara! We hope you have a terrific day! Thanks for WONDERing with us! :)

  23. I can’t eat donuts are they good or what!!
    I heard that a lot of people love them I wish I could have donuts they sound so sweet and yummy do you like them much? :)

    • While donuts are a tasty treat from time to time, they’re not the best for us– so don’t worry, Kate, you’re not missing out on much! Today, there are lots of delicious and healthier options to snack on… including fruit! Perhaps you and a family member or adult can make “fake donuts” using apple rings! You can spread some peanut butter on top and snack away! :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


  • Wonderopolis on Facebook
  • Wonderopolis on Pinterest
  • Print

Have you ever wondered…

  • Why do donuts have holes?
  • Who invented the donut hole?
  • Where do donut holes come from?


Wonder Gallery

doughnut_shutterstock_56000212Vimeo Video

Try It Out

We don’t know about you, but today’s Wonder made us hungry! Hungry for what? Donuts, of course!

If you have a donut shop near where you live, you could ask an adult to drive you there for a sweet treat. Or you could also check out your local grocery store, since it probably has donuts, too.

If you’re feeling up for a little kitchen adventure, you could try making your own homemade donuts instead. Jump online to check out How To Make Delicious Homemade Donuts for recipes and easy-to-follow directions!

Do you have a favorite kind of donut? Tell us what it is! Post your thoughts on Facebook and see what types of donuts other Wonder Friends like.


Still Wondering

Check out ReadWriteThink’s Delicious Summer Treats audio podcast to explore a number of ways to read and write recipes and have fun with food!


Wonder Categories/Tags


Wonder What’s Next?

Wear your boots! Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day will have you walking over cold, hard ground.

Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.