If you are a devoted donut eater, you probably don’t ask many questions about what makes them so delicious. But you may find yourself asking why the hole? Of course, not every donut has a hole, especially if they have a filling. Still, for years one of the donuts main characteristics is the hole in the center. We’re taking a look back in history to bring you the true story of how our beloved donut got its hole.

Although there a few versions of the story, most involve Captain Hanson Gregory – a seafarer turned donut innovator. In an interview with Gregory that was published in The Washington Post on March 26, 1916, he says he cut the hole to help the cooking process. He claims, “they used to fry all right around the edges, but when you had the edges done the insides was all raw dough.” Gregory says these donuts were tough to digest, before he got “a great inspiration”. He “cut into the middle of that doughnut the first hole ever seen by mortal eyes!” Gregory claims it was the finest donut he ever tasted. According to Today I Found Out, Gregory also mentioned that he taught this tactic to fellow sailors and people he met throughout his travels. And that’s how it spread around the world.

Cake Spy sites another story from the Lewiston Evening Journal, that seems more like a fisherman’s tale than anything. The story is “that he liked to munch fried cakes while steering his craft. One day, in 1847, the seas were rough and he needed both hands to control the rudder. So he slapped several cakes on the spoke of his wheel, making holes.” In this same article, Henry Ellis has another story – one even more unbelievable. He says that, “an Indian’s arrow aimed at a housewife pierced a round of fried cake”. One things for sure, something seems fishy about both of these versions. Although we are unsure how Captain Hanson really came up with the idea, many accredit him to giving the donut its distinct shape. His mother, Miss Elizabeth Gregory is considered a donut contributor and would frequently make donuts for her son -flavored with nutmeg, lemon and cinnamon and filled with hazelnuts and walnuts.

While the true story is obscured by tall tales and absurd proclamations, Rockport, Maine honors Captain Hanson Gregory at his place of birth. There is a plaque that simply reads, “In commemoration. This is the birthplace of Captain Hanson Gregory, who first invented the hole in the doughnut in 1847. Erected by his friends, Nov. 2, 1947.” RoadsideAmerica.com gives exact directions to the plaque where donut lovers far and wide can pay their respects to the man who started it all. Even though the exact story has been exaggeration and elaborated on time and time again, it is still Captain Hanson Gregory who is widely recognized as the creator of the hole in the donut!