Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Recommended: Messy Nessy Remembers the Forgotten Doughnut Heroines of Wartime

The doughnut–America’s favorite indulgence–has an unexpected heroic history. Despite having been invented in the 1800s, the doughnut wasn’t popularized until WWI, when the ring-shaped pastries brought comfort to thousands of soldiers serving in the trenches during the brutal years far from home. The Salvation Army, a well-known Christian charitable foundation, became the first prominent organization to provide soldiers with fried doughnuts on the front lines of the Great War, thanks to the brave women whose story has remained a footnote in wartime history.

Although only about 250 volunteers were sent to the French trenches, these women were eventually able to turn out 8,000 doughnuts a day and news of these “doughnut girls” spread quickly throughout France and the U.S. The women traveled with their troops to the front lines, piling their supplies into the ammunition train and moving through the night. Often, army generals weren’t fond of women being so close to combat, but the ladies were determined to dish out their doughnuts to the troops.

Continue Reading at Messy Nessy's Cabinet of Chic Curiosities


PS:  When you click through you will see Nessy has gathered a Simply Fabulous collection of wartime Doughnut phots.


  1. Doughnuts were featured in an article by Don Martin in the New York Herald of April 5, 1918 with a subtitle “Volunteers Also Risk Lives to Prevent Destruction of Doughnuts on Way to Front.”
    After two days’ shelling, day and night, the Germans ruined a Salvation Army truck, but its precious cargo of doughnuts successfully was removed by volunteers.
    That the Salvation Army might not be hampered by the loss of its truck, the engineering corps sent word it would transport to the trenches doughnuts and such other dainties as the Salvationists may wish to send. The Red Cross, seeing the HERALD’s story, also came to the Salvationists’ aid and offered trucks, and then the Quartermaster’s Department added its assistance so that the soldiers’ supply of doughnuts be not cut off.
    “Trench life without doughnuts is hardly worthwhile,” said a Texas lad. “Give us doughnuts hot and strong and we will stay in the front line permanently.”

  2. Another article about doughnuts by Don Martin in the New York Herald of April 25, 1918, told the wonderful story of “Mother Burdick Of Trenches” the Ministering Angel To Men In France, From Texas To Maine.”
    From one end of the line to the other she is known as “Mother Burdick.” When the boys come back from the land of the shivery patrols they drop in to say “Hello.” When they are resting after their shift in the trenches they hang around to help her or to do the heavy work for her understudies, Miss Myrtle Turkington and Miss Gladys McIntyre.
    “Hello, Mother!” said a rough raw-boned, red haired private nicknamed Texas. “How are the doughnuts? From head to toe he bore the grime of the trenches. “You don’t want a doughnut—a great, big man like you. You want a meal. Now sit down—do’s I tell you.” Texas sat down. Mother Burdick’s wish is a first line command.
    “You’ll have to excuse me if I keep on with my work,” she said apologetically. “We’re sending a thousand doughnuts over to the trenches to-day, and there’s no one to make them but me and Miss McIntyre here. The boys like them better than anything else we can give them except”--- She gave a half dozen brawny soldiers an opportunity to finish the sentence and they all did, in chorus:- “Except apple pie.”
    “But you can’t have apple pie only Sundays,” said Mother Burdick firmly. “It’s a luxury. I’ll stuff you so full of apple pie you’d bust if I had the apples and the sugar and the time to make it. You’re lucky to get doughnuts.” “Lucky! Say, Mother, the war’d be lost without your doughnuts!”
    Mother Burdick and her husband, Floyd O. Burdick, both from Texas, are verily among the ministering angels of the war. “We decided we’d come over here and do the very things the boys’ mothers would do if they were here. They like doughnuts, the poor boys, and so we make doughnuts, and make ‘em and make ‘em and make ‘em, and if I had the flour and the lard, I’d make tens of thousands more and send ‘em up in those trenches you can see from the top of the hill yonder. But if the officers would only let me and the girls here go up in the trenches! We want to carry the doughnuts and chocolate up there ourselves, but the officers say we can’t.” “That’s ‘cause they’re taking no chance on losing you,” said Texas.