Industrial Donut in Savoy, Ill., posted about a recent donation: “We were honored to deliver 8 dozen donuts, donated by an anonymous customer, to The Champaign Police Department. […] Our thoughts and prayers go out to Officer Oberheim’s family and friends and to the brave men and women who protect and serve the #Chambanavoy community each and every day. Thank you!” Photo courtesy of Industrial Donut/Facebook.
Industrial Donut in Champaign, Illinois, gets a lot of requests for wild designs on their custom doughnuts. But last week, a customer who insisted on anonymity came in and ordered eight dozen police-themed donuts. Covered in blue, black, and white sprinkles and icing, they were a first for Industrial.
The customer delivered them to the Champaign Police Department as a token of support and respect after the on-duty death of Officer Chris Oberheim on May 19. Oberheim was shot during an early morning confrontation with 24-year-old Darion Lafayette in an apartment-complex parking lot. Oberheim’s partner, Jeffrey Creel, was also shot but managed to shoot and kill Lafayette.
The act of doughnut-kindness came this week, just a few days before today’s National Donut Day today. And although Donut Day is a holiday for everyone, for some reason, police departments tend to find themselves mentioned more.
Fair or not, a number of police departments have shown that they are happy to be in on the joke, and a number of doughnut makers have turned the confection’s reputation as a first responder treat into a chance to donate or otherwise support local police, fire, and EMS.
The day of doughnuts was created and first recognized by the Chicago Salvation Army in 1938. Today, first responders and doughnut makers use the first Friday of every June to honor the women, nicknamed “Doughnut Lassies,” who served doughnuts to soldiers in World War I. They would serve coffee and doughnuts to the troops on the front lines, even using soldiers’ bowl-shaped helmets to fry up the delightful treats.
But the connection between cops and doughnuts has always been real, says Michael Krondl, author of The Donut: History, Recipes, and Lore From Boston to Berlin. He quotes former Seattle Chief of Police Norm Stamper’s memory that “graveyard cops in the forties and fifties had few choices. […] They could pack lunch, pray for an all-night diner on their beat, or fill up on doughnuts. Doughnuts usually won out.”
William Rosenberg, the founder of Dunkin’ Donuts, wrote in his autobiography, “I made our stores hospitable places for the police. […] It protected the stores and it kept the crime rate very low.”
Here’s a list of police departments with a sense of humor about Donut Day, and local shops that want to keep those officers smiling.
A tradition like no other.
“Let the donut jokes begin!” says the Athens-Clarke County Police Department in Georgia. The officers there are teaming with a local Dunkin’ Donuts to support Special Olympics Georgia.
Police in Tullytown aren’t afraid to just ask.
Come one, come all. This historic doughnut shop founded in 1896, now called Cops and Doughnuts, was saved by police, and now everyone in the vicinity of Clare, Michigan, can enjoy its doughnuts. Its website welcomes everyone and says, “Join us for a warm fresh doughnut and a steaming cup of cops coffee while you enjoy the police decor and friendly, and very safe, atmosphere.”
The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office will be recognizing National Donut Day by giving away doughnuts all day. Kwik Trip donated doughnuts to make it all happen.
And finally in Valdosta, members of the local fire department decided to have some fun with their fellow first responders at the police department, delivering a few dozen to police to celebrate “their” special day.
Joshua Skovlund is a former staff writer for Coffee or Die. He covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, he grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. After five years as in paramedicine, he transitioned to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married with two children.
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