National Doughnut Day
The day in June celebrates the "Donut Lassies" who worked for the Salvation Army during World War I distributing doughnuts to American soldiers in France. Today’s day celebrates the actual foodstuff.
Doughnuts have been around since long before the First World War, and we have the Dutch to thank for them. The Dutch would make "olykoek," which translates to oily cake. The first Dutch doughnuts didn’t have a hole, but they were fried in hot oil and the dough was sweet.
It wasn’t until 1847 that then 16-year-old Hanson Gregory claims he created the holed-out doughnut we know and love today. Sick of doughnuts with a raw center, he used a pepper pot to punch out holes to help his doughnuts cook more evenly. By 1920, Adolph Levitt, a Russian living in New York, had invented a doughnut machine. Thirteen years later, doughnuts were proclaimed the “Hit Food of the Century of Progress” by the World’s Fair in Chicago.
We’ve come a long way since then. There are doughnut glazes, fillings and toppings galore. In 2011 alone, more than 200 million doughnuts were sold in the United States.
Pumpkin Chunkin' Day
So far the limits of punkin chunkin stand at 4,438 feet, the world record for hurling these orange gourds through the air without the aid of electricity or explosives. . Pumpkins rocket into the sky from three different types of launchers, or "chunkers": catapults, trebuchets and air cannons, a spectacle that attracts upwards of 30,000 onlookers.
The event has its beginnings in a blacksmith shop owned by John Ellsworth. In 1986 Ellsworth, Trey Melson, Bill Thompson and Donald "Doc" Pepper began experimenting with punkin chunking after reading an article about a physics class that that threw pumpkins as an exercise in energy and mass. (Previous to this, the group held an anvil tossing competition.)The longest shot, or "chunk" the group recorded that year was 126 feet [World Championship Punkin Chunkin Association]. Compare that to the world-record holders, air cannon team Young Glory III's 4,438-chunk, and it's evident that the event is becoming more and more competitive, with teams putting their engineer skills to the test (not to mention specially grown "aerodynamic pumpkins) .
Here are a few simple rules:
- Pumpkins must weigh between 8 and 10 pounds.
- All pumpkins fired must remain intact until they impact the ground to obtain an official measurement.
- No part of the machine shall cross the firing line.
- No wadding can be used in the machines (including bean chaff, straw, foam, metal, or any other object).
- No explosives are allowed.
- Machines can have either springs, rubber cords, counterweights, compressed air or any other device that use the stored power of one human being.
Many of the pumpkin-throwing machines are mechanical in design. The current record holders use compressed air. Depending on the team's ingenuity and budget, a punkin chunker can cost anywhere from 0 to $50,000. (Some teams use scrap metal, which can greatly reduce the cost.)
Think you might be up to the punkin chunkin challenge? Up next, choose your weapon.
Guy Fawkes Day (National Gunpowder Day)
Guy Fawkes Night celebrates the foiling of an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London on November 5, 1605. The attack was planned by a group of Catholic conspirators, which included Guy Fawkes. The explosives would have been set off when King James I of England (King James VI of Scotland) and many parliamentary members were in the building. The conspirators were later arrested, tortured and executed.
Many people light bonfires and set off fireworks. As it is the end of autumn, it is the ideal opportunity to burn garden rubbish. Some light small bonfires in their own gardens, while other light larger ones in a communal space. In some towns and cities, the municipality organizes a bonfire and professional firework display in a park. These tend to be very popular. Due to its proximity to Halloween, many people organize a combined party for Guy Fawkes Night and Halloween. These parties often include elements from both festivals, such as a bonfire and dressing up in spooky outfits. Popular foods include toffee apples, bonfire toffee and potatoes baked in the ashes of the fire. Guy Fawkes, a Catholic, was arrested, tortured and executed for his part in the plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Hence many Catholics are more restrained in their celebration of this day. In addition, many injuries and even deaths occur as a result of fireworks being used incorrectly. For this reason, many safety campaigners call for the sale of fireworks to the public to be restricted even more than at present and for more professional displays to be organized.