The Quick 10: 10 Details about Doughnuts

Since it's National Doughnut Day, we thought we would rerun this doughy delight from March. Now go get yourself some fried, cakey goodness!!

I stumbled upon the Dunkin' Donuts "Create Dunkin's Next Donut" contest last week and have had doughnuts on the brain ever since. Anyone who follows the Q10 regularly knows that if I'm obsessed with something, I do my best to make you obsessed with it too. So if you go out and down a couple of Krispy Kremes after this, don't feel bad - it's totally my fault. And no, I'm not getting paid to reference this contest... we don't even have Dunkin' Donuts here (sadly). The doughnut I created, by the way, was a sour cream dough with lime-flavored sugar. I think it would be delightful.

1. Adolph Levitt invented the doughnut machine in 1920. Before that, doughnuts were made one by one in a frying pan. His machine dropped dough rings into fat, browned them, flipped them and cooled them. He called it the Wonderful Almost Human Automatic Donut Machine. It took him and an engineer 12 tries to perfect, but once he did, they sold like hotcakes - er, doughnuts - and the industry hasn't been the same since.

dunker2. There is a National Dunking Association and it used to be a big deal. Actress Mae Murray is said to have started the whole dunking craze when she accidentally dropped her doughnut into her coffee and raved about the results. It just goes to show you that things haven't really changed in the past 80 years - a celebrity does something and it sweeps the nation. Card-carrying (seriously... there were membership cards) celebrity members of the National Dunking Association included Johnny Carson, Zero Mostel, Pearl Buck, Martha Graham and Red Skelton. Jimmy Durante even ran for president of the association.
3. Economists have said the size of the hole in the doughnut directly mirrors the state of the economy. The bigger the hole, the worse the economy is. Makes sense, really - means bakers can use less dough per doughnut and charge the same price.

4. But why does the doughnut have a hole? I mean, not all of them do, but when you think of a doughnut the first thing that usually comes to mind is the type that looks like a circle with a hole in the middle. So why that and not just a solid round of dough? Well, there are a lot of different stories. This is the one that probably goes around the most often, though: Sea captain Hanson Crockett Gregory was eating a small cake while steering his ship in 1847. The ship was suddenly caught in a freak storm and the captain quickly shoved his cake down onto a spoke of the ship's wheel so he would have both hands free for steering. Once the storm was over, he realized how convenient the hole in the middle of the cake was and ordered more just like it from the cook. Gregory himself said that he and his crew were having problems digesting the greasy cakes when he realized that cutting a hole in the middle might solve the problem. He later said the hole was the best part of the doughnuts, and told the reporter he was talking to, "You'd think so if you had ever tasted the doughnuts we used to eat."

randys5. The Chock Full O' Nuts Whole Wheat Donut is, according to aficionados, the Holy Grail of doughnuts. Chock Full O' Nuts was a chain of lunch counters (later resulting in the coffee of the same name) that apparently had amazing doughnuts. There are still Chock Full O' Nuts joints in the New York area, and from their website, it would appear that the whole wheat doughnut is still on the menu. So what gives? Why do so many people wax nostalgic about this doughnut? Did the recipe change? Or is it just harder to find these days? If you can fill us in on the Chock Full O' Nuts Whole Wheat Donut mystery, please do.
6. Stella Young was the original Doughnut Girl of WWI. They served trays of the fried rounds to hungry soldiers who would line up outside of the Salvation Army tents to get a little taste of deliciousness. In fact, some say that's where the term "doughboys" came from, but like the story of the doughnut hold, there are a few stories circulating on the origins of that term. Although there were lots of Doughnut Girls (AKA Sallies), Stella was the one on the cover of the sheet music for the song "My Doughnut Girl." Stella once narrowly escaped death when a bit of shrapnel hit her doughnut pan and missed her. She saved the shrapnel.

7. Washington Irving of Sleepy Hollow legend may have coined the term "doughnut." The earliest reference anyone can find of that exact word is in a short story of his dated 1808, except he was probably talking about what we call the doughnut holes today.

8. "Doughnut" is the original spelling, but "donut" has become accepted as the shortened form. Kinda like "Drive-thru" vs. "Drive through." I prefer "doughnut" myself, but "donut" goes back so far I might as well accept it: the first reference comes from The Los Angeles Times in 1929.

9. My post is a bit premature, because National Doughnut Day in the U.S. is the first Friday of June every year. Um, consider that marked down in my calendar. In pen.

10. Renee Zellweger said she ate 20 doughnuts a day in order to go from a size six to a size 14 in just three months so she could portray Bridget Jones. I wonder if she means mini-doughnuts... surely 20 full-sized doughnuts a day would have you gaining several sizes faster than three months, since doughnuts can be up to 25% fat (they absorb a lot of the fat they are fried in because they are so porous). But that's not going to stop me from eating them.

And hey - tell me about Randy's Donuts. I'm visiting L.A. over Memorial Day weekend and am curious as to whether it's worth a stop or not. Otherwise, let's discuss your favorite doughnut in the comments. For me, it's hard to top a fresh cinnamon and sugar - still warm and full of melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. Mmm... [insert Homer drooling noise here]

Shout! Factory
10 Surprising Facts About Mr. Mom
Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory

John Hughes penned the script for 1983's Mr. Mom, a comedy about a family man named Jack Butler (Micheal Keaton) who loses his job. To ensure their three kids are taken care of, his wife, Caroline (Teri Garr), goes back to work—leaving Jack to fight off a vacuum cleaner and learn why it's never a good idea to feed chili to a baby.

In 1982, Keaton turned in a star-making role in Ron Howard’s Night Shift, but Mr. Mom marked the first time he headlined a movie, and it launched his career. Hughes had written National Lampoon's Vacation, which—oddly enough—was released in theaters the weekend after Mr. Mom. But Hughes himself was still a relative unknown, as it would be another year before he entered the teen flick phase of his career, which would make him iconic.

In the meantime, Mr. Mom hit home for a lot of viewers, as the economy was on the downturn and more and more women were entering (or reentering) the workforce. But some people think that the movie's ending—which sees the couple revert to traditional gender roles—sidelined the movie's message. Still, on the 35th anniversary of its release, Mr. Mom remains an ahead-of-its-time comedy classic.


Mr. Mom producer Lauren Shuler Donner came across a funny article John Hughes had written for National Lampoon. Based on that, she contacted him and the two became friends. “One day, he was telling me that his wife had gone down to Arizona and he was in charge of the two boys and he didn’t know what he was doing,” Donner told IGN. “It was hilarious! I was on the floor laughing. He said, ‘Do you think this would make a good movie?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, this is really funny.’ So he said, ‘Well, I have about 80 pages in a drawer. Would you look at it?’ So I looked at it and I said, ‘This is great! Let’s do it!’ We kind of developed it ourselves.” In the book Movie Moguls Speak, Donner mentioned how Hughes “had never been to a grocery store, he had never operated a vacuum cleaner. John was so ignorant, that in his ignorance, he was hilarious.”

The players involved with the movie told Donner and Hughes they thought it should be a TV movie. Hughes had a TV deal with Aaron Spelling, who came aboard to executive produce. “Then the players involved were upset because John was writing out of Chicago instead of L.A.,” Donner said in Movie Moguls Speak. “They fired John and brought in a group of TV writers. In the end, John and I were muscled out. It was a good movie, but if you ever read John’s original script for Mr. Mom, it’s far better.”


Stan Dragoti ended up directing the film, but only after Hughes turned it down, because he preferred to make his movies in Chicago, not Hollywood. “I don’t like being around the people in the movie business,” Hughes told Roger Ebert. “In Hollywood, you spend all of your time having lunch and making deals. Everybody is trying to shoot you down. I like to get my actors out here where we can make our movies in privacy.” Hughes remained in Chicago and filmed his directorial debut, Sixteen Candles, there.


In 1982’s Night Shift, Keaton’s character works at a morgue and starts a prostitution ring with co-worker Henry Winkler. Donner had an agent friend, Laurie Perlman, who represented the not-yet-famous actor. She contacted Donner and pitched Keaton to her. “’Look, I represent this guy who is really funny. Would you meet with him?’" Donner recalled of the conversation. "So I met with him. Usually I don’t like to do this unless we’re casting, but I met with him because she was my friend. And then she said, ‘You have to see this movie Night Shift that he’s in.’ So I went to see Night Shift, and midway through I couldn’t wait to get out of that theater to give Mr. Mom to Michael Keaton. Fortunately, he liked it."

Keaton told Grantland that he turned down one of the main roles in Splash to play Jack Butler. “I just remember at the time thinking I wanted to get away from what I’d just done on Night Shift,” he said. “I thought if I do it again, I might get myself stuck. So then Mr. Mom came along. So I said no [to Splash] so I could set up this framework right away where I could do different things.”


Teri Garr, Michael Keaton, Taliesin Jaffe, Frederick Koehler, and Martin Mull in Mr. Mom (1983)
Shout! Factory

In 1983, more women stayed at home than worked, so it was a novelty for a man to be a stay-at-home dad. Today, an estimated 1.4 million men are stay-at-home dads, and 7 million men are their children's primary caregiver. “Mr. Mom became part of the vernacular,” Donner told Newsweek. “Mr. Mom represented a segment of men who were at home dealing with the kids who, up until then, really hadn’t been heard from. That’s what really told me about the power of film, because it spoke for a lot of men. It also helped women, because I think that women sometimes, if you’re a housewife, you’re not really appreciated for what you do. This sort of made women feel better about what they did because they knew that men were understanding it.”


More than 30 years after the film’s release, stay-at-home dads feel the term “Mr. Mom” should die. The National At-Home Dad Network launched a campaign to terminate the phrase and instead have people refer to men as “Dad.” In 2014 Lake Superior State University voted to banish “Mr. Mom” from the lexicon.

“At least, the pop-culture image of the inept dad who wouldn’t know a diaper genie from a garbage disposal has begun to fade,” wrote The Wall Street Journal, after declaring “Mr. Mom is dead.”


The movie redefined gender roles, but when the producers pitched the premise to Garr, they hid the plot reversal. “They just told me it was about a guy who does the work that a woman does, because it’s so easy,” she told The A.V. Club. “And I went, ‘Oh, yeah. Ha ha.’ It’s so easy. All the women I know who stay home and take care of their kids, they go, ‘Oh yeah, this is easy.’ Hmm.”


The quote everyone remembers from the movie comes from Jack, holding a chainsaw, standing next to Ron Richardson (Martin Mull) and discussing what kind of wiring Jack will use in renovating the house: “220, 221, whatever it takes,” Jack says.

“We’re doing the scene and it was okay,” Keaton told Esquire. “And I remember saying to the prop guy, ‘Go find me a chainsaw.’ When he comes back with it, he says, ‘You wanna wear these?’ And he holds up some goggles. I go, ‘Yeah.’ You know, they make me look crazy. And when Martin shows up, I know I should look under control, I’m not sweating it. I’m a dude. So we’re standing there, Martin pulls me aside and says, ‘You know what you ought to say? When I ask about the wiring, you oughta just deadpan: ‘220, 221.’ I died. It was perfect. I may have added ‘whatever it takes.’ But it was his.”

“That was a little ad-lib that we just threw in, but every carpenter or construction person I’ve ever worked with, they’re always quoting that line from Mr. Mom,” Mull told The A.V. Club.


Mr. Mom only opened on 126 screens on July 22, 1983, but managed to gross $947,197 during its opening weekend. Once the film went wide a month later to 1235 screens, it hit number one at the box office and spent five weeks at the top. By the end of its run, the film had grossed just shy of $65 million, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of 1983 (just between Staying Alive and Risky Business). National Lampoon’s Vacation, Hughes’s other film that summer, came out July 29 and ended its theatrical run with $61,399,552 (at its height, it showed on 1248 screens). Vacation finished the year in 11th place.


During a 1986 interview with Seventeen magazine, Molly Ringwald asked the writer-director why he never showed teen sex in Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club. “In Sixteen Candles, I figured it would only be gratuitous to show Samantha and Jake in anything more than a kiss,” he said. “The kiss is the most beautiful moment. I was really amused when someone once called me a ‘purveyor of horny sex comedies.’ He listed The Breakfast Club and Mr. Mom in parentheses. I thought, ‘What kind of sex?’ Yes, in Mr. Mom there’s a baby in a bathtub and you see its bare butt.”


In the beginning, producers wanted Mr. Mom to be a TV movie, not a feature film. But a year after the film came out in theaters, ABC produced a TV movie called Mr. Mom, with the same characters and premise. Barry Van Dyke played Jack and Rebecca York played Caroline. A People magazine review of the movie stated: “They and their three kids are immediately likable … But it goes downhill from there as the script lobotomizes all its characters. Here’s a textbook case in how TV takes a cute idea—and a script that does have some good lines—and leeches the wit out of it.”

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