Captain Hanson Gregory’s Sinker

Captain Hanson Gregory’s Sinker

In this #TallShipTuesday, we learned about the creator of the donut, Captain Hanson Greggory. There are a few stories around the origins of the donut, but what has stayed consistent and has been verified is who the creator was. The story Hanson Gregory told to The Washington Post in an article goes that one day he was struck with inspiration, he took the round lid of a pepper shaker and cut a hole right in the middle of the twister- thus, the donut was born. 

He circulates several wild exaggerations of how this invention is made. At one point, he claims to have been getting ready to eat a “sinker” when a storm overcame the ship. In a panic, he has to take the wheel but he doesn’t want to drop his treat, so he sticks it right through the spokes. When he lifts it back up, there is a perfectly round hole in the middle, thus the donut hole was born. In another story, he claims that sailors went overboard after eating one, sinking right to the bottom. Gregory swears “Never Again” as he invents the hole to make the tasty treats be less heavy. In yet another interview, he claims an Angel showed him a donut hole in a dream. 

There are additional stories that have Captain Gregory’s Mother, Elizabeth Gregory, front and center in the story. In one account, she was the one who made the treats for the captain and his crew. Some accounts even go as far to imply that the reason they were named donuts was because Elizabeth would put nuts like hazelnuts or walnuts into the center where the dough was less cooked.

Despite all of these stories, variations of the sinker have survived over the years. The sinker was another name for the Dutch treat the “oily cake” from the Dutch word olykoeks. To make an oily cake, there are many recipes online that are relatively historically accurate. 

Though this story is widely regarded as the official origin of the modern donut we see today, donuts and other fried confectionaries have a long history in many countries all over the world. The recipes may all slightly differ, but the core remains the same: a delicious fried, sweet treat that anyone can enjoy.

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