The Rise and Fall of Vitamin Donuts
Imagine going to the doctor to complain about lack of energy and getting a prescription for a dozen donuts! This very well could have been our reality had “Vitamin Donuts” taken off back in the 1940s. Yes, you heard correctly. Vitamin Donuts were a thing. Oh the 40s, what a time to be alive! Well, aside from World War II and extreme food shortages. But yay, Vitamin Donuts! So why are we still forcing stone-age cartoon characters down our throats when we could be gorging on donuts for our health? It seems the government and consumers alike found the idea of a nutritious donut a hard pill to swallow.
During the early 1940s, across the United States and Canada, malnutrition was a growing concern for the population and the war effort. The Committee on Food and Nutrition (now the Food and Nutrition Board) recommended adding thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and iron to flour. The Doughnut Corporation of America—the largest doughnut maker at the time—saw this new “enriched flour” trend as the perfect opportunity to promote their Vitamin Donuts, which promised to deliver a dose of Pep and Vigor.
Ultimately, the U.S. government’s War Food Administration determined the name was misleading because it was the flour that was enriched with vitamins and not the donut itself. The Doughnut Corporation wasn’t keen on changing the name to “Enriched Flour Donuts” (which is basically just a fancy way to say donuts) so they decided to trash the entire concept.
Donuts may not be filled with vitamins, but they do give us a dose of happiness and that’s good enough for us.