The story of the doughnut and how it got its hole is legendary. One version suggests that it was Hanson Gregory, a well-known sea captain, who suggested the idea to his mother one day in 1847 when she was frying dough cakes in a small New England town.
Hanson noticed that the centers of her cakes always seemed doughy and undercooked, so he suggested that she cut out their middles before she started to fry them. She laughed at the childlike suggestion but tried it out anyway. The very first result was so excellent—the whole doughnut ring being uniformly cooked and of a light, spongy texture—that she never went back to the old way. Her method soon became famous and was copied widely until it spread throughout the United States and, eventually, to other lands.