Guy Fawkes Day (National Gunpowder Day)
Early in the morning, King James I of England learns that a plot to explode the Parliament building has been foiled, hours before he was scheduled to sit with the rest of the British government in a general parliamentary session.
At about midnight on the night of November 4-5, Sir Thomas Knyvet, a justice of the peace, found Guy Fawkes lurking in a cellar under the Parliament building and ordered the premises searched. Some 20 barrels of gunpowder were found, and Fawkes was taken into custody. During a torture session on the rack, Fawkes revealed that he was a participant in an English Catholic conspiracy to annihilate England's Protestant government and replace it with Catholic leadership.
What became known as the Gunpowder Plot was organized by Robert Catesby, an English Catholic whose father had been persecuted by Queen Elizabeth I for refusing to conform to the Church of England. Guy Fawkes had converted to Catholicism, and his religious zeal led him to fight in the Spanish army in the Netherlands. Catesby and the handful of other plotters rented a cellar that extended under Parliament, and Fawkes planted the gunpowder there, hiding the barrels under coal and wood.
As the November 5 meeting of Parliament approached, Catesby enlisted more English Catholics into the conspiracy, and one of these, Francis Tresham, warned his Catholic brother-in-law Lord Monteagle not to attend Parliament that day. Monteagle alerted the government, and hours before the attack was to have taken place Fawkes and the explosives were found. By torturing Fawkes, King James' government learned of the identities of his co-conspirators. During the next few weeks, English authorities killed or captured all the plotters and put the survivors on trial, along with a few innocent English Catholics.
Guy Fawkes himself was sentenced, along with the other surviving chief conspirators, to be hanged, drawn, and quartered in London. Moments before the start of his gruesome execution, on January 31, 1606, he jumped from a ladder while climbing to the hanging platform, breaking his neck and dying instantly.
In 1606, Parliament established November 5 as a day of public thanksgiving. Today, Guy Fawkes Day is celebrated across Great Britain every year on November 5 in remembrance of the Gunpowder Plot. As dusk falls, villagers and city dwellers across Britain light bonfires, set off fireworks, and burn effigies of Guy Fawkes, celebrating his failure to blow Parliament and James I to kingdom come.
National Doughnut Day
Not to be wholly confused with National Donut Day, November 5 is 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.
The origin of the doughnut is heavily debated. The concept of fried dough is not exclusive to one country or culture and variations of the doughnut can be seen across the globe. Although the exact place, time, and person responsible for creating the doughnut are unknown, there are a few events in the history of the doughnut that stand out.
The Dutch Doughnut
Record shows that the Dutch were making olykoeks, or “oil cakes,” as early as the mid 19th century. These early doughnuts were simply balls of cake fried in pork fat until golden brown. Because the center of the cake did not cook as fast as the outside, the cakes were sometimes stuffed with fruit, nuts, or other fillings that did not require cooking.
As Dutch immigrants began to settle in the United States, they continued to make their olykoeks, where they were influenced by other cultures continued to morph into what we call doughnuts today.
The Doughnut Shape
One solution to the gooey, uncooked center of the doughnut was to stuff it with fillings that did not require cooking but Hansen Gregory, an American ship captain, had another solution. In 1847 Gregory solved this problem by punching a hole in the center of the dough ball. The hole increased the surface area, exposure to the hot oil, and therefore eliminated the uncooked center.
More colorful versions of Gregory’s invention of the doughnut hole include him impaling a doughnut on the ship’s steering wheel so that he could use both hands to steer, or the idea for the shape being delivered to him in a dream by angels. However Gregory came up with putting a hole in the middle of his olykoek, he is the man credited with inventing the classic hole-in-the-middle shape.
The Name “Doughnut”
The origin of the name “doughnut” is also highly debated. Some say it refers to the nuts that were placed inside of the ball of dough to prevent the uncooked center while others claim it refers to “dough knots” which were another popular shape for the olykoeks.
The first written record of the word “doughnut” is in Washington Irving’s 1809 publication, A History of New York. By the early 1900’s, many had shortened the word to “donut.” Today, “doughnut” and “donut” are used interchangeably in the English language.
In 1920, Russian born immigrant Adolph Levitt created the first automated doughnut machine. The futuristic automated donut making process was featured at the 1934 World’s Fair in Chicago. The Fair advertised doughnuts as “the food hit of the Century Of Progress” and they became an instant hit across the country. Doughnuts have been a favorite breakfast and comfort food for Americans ever since.
Large doughnut chains like Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts have reigned supreme in the donut world for the past few decades but as the “boutique foods” trend continues to grow, doughnuts are not being left behind. Specialty shops making homemade doughnuts with unique flavors and toppings are cropping up in major cities across America. Maple and bacon doughnuts, doughnut ice cream sandwiches, and even hamburgers on doughnuts instead of buns; it’s clear that doughnuts aren't just for dunking anymore.
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.