Esprit Rock

In 1485

In 1485, as King Henry VII marched his forces inland in an attempt to win the English throne, an equally important revolution was occuring in Germany—led not by a king, but a cookbook. Only the second ever cookbook ever published, the Kuchenmeisterei, or Mastery of The Kitchen, was radical in many ways: not only was it the first cookbook aimed toward commoners, it was also responsible for the introduction of many new recipes to Europe’s burgeoning population which had just begun to recover from the Black Death. It also, notably, contained the first ever recipe for the jelly donut.
The first prototype of this modern masterpiece was questionable at best, two deep fried pieces of round bread with jelly sandwiched in between them. Yet the revolution that this simple food would create and its continued profound impacts, even now, bespeak a sui generis cultural icon whose effects have been felt all around the world. The historical and cultural importance of the jelly donut should not and cannot be understated. In fact, the jelly donut is radically important because it mirrors the evolution of society over time. It’s the pinnacle of achievement in a long line of donuts; a donut that not only is made better and tastes better than other donuts, but also is more historically significant than other donuts. Above all, the jelly donut is a symbol of culture and diversity, an agent of wonder that continues to inspire, even to this very day. And it’s this fundamental characteristic of the jelly donut to be a constant in a constantly changing world that makes this loved food much more than just a donut.
At first glance, the use of the jelly donut to symbolize shifts in society seems laughable, the sort of ridiculous claim that one hears and then immediately dismisses. Yet the argument for the jelly donut isn’t as absurd as it seems. For one, food has always been one of the only aspects that connects all of society together. In a world divided by politics, personal beliefs, and unpopular opinions, food unites us, bringing the entire world together in a celebration of good cuisine. And it’s food’s ability to unite society that makes it an obvious choice for a symbol of mankind, rather than something else that divides it.
So, why the jelly donut? Firstly, the jelly donut is a universal treat. While its first appearance was in Europe in the late fifteenth century, distinct variations of the jelly donut have cropped up in Australia, Nigeria, and Japan, not to mention the countless variations it has in Europe and the Americas. Jelly donuts also have cultural significance, such as being eaten during Hanukkah—in 2009, an estimated 18 million sufganiyot, Israel’s variation on the jelly donut, were eaten in the weeks leading up to the national holiday, averaging 3 donuts per citizen. In Poland a whopping 100 million jelly donuts are eaten on the last Thursday prior to Ash Wednesday in a holiday appropriately named “Fat Thursday.” As the legend goes, the more donuts one eats, the better fortune they will experience later on. The Netherlands have a special variation of jelly donuts, called oliebollen, which are considered good-luck tokens and can only be eaten on New Years Eve. Croatians and Slovenians celebrate Carnival by eating krofne, their regional take on the popular sweet. And of course President John F. Kennedy’s famous remark at the Berlin Wall “Ich bin ein Berliner,” which has been falsely translated as “I am a jelly donut,” because of the similarity between the words for a citizen of Berlin and the name of the German jelly donut, Berliner. The influence of the jelly donut is wide, to say the least. And so even just through the lens of history, the jelly donut already is a significant piece of society and culture, far exceeding all other types of donuts.
Yet the scope of the jelly donut isn’t just limited to an analysis of the past. Rather, the jelly donut is the best type of donut because of its intrinsic properties as well. The thing separating the jelly donut from other types of donuts is its filling, which is typically some sort of fruit based jam. The benefit of this fruit based jam is that it’s actually more healthy than other types of sugar, which have been removed from their naturally occurring source. Studies have actually found that it’s this type of sugar, termed “free sugar,” which has been linked to obesity, NCDs, and tooth decay, rather than fruit based sugars. WHO strongly recommends “a reduced intake of free sugars throughout the lifecourse,” adding that free sugar consumption should be limited to less than 5% of all energy intake. To date, no such statement has been issued relating to fruit based sugars, meaning jelly donuts, for now, are in the clear. Granted, a constant diet of jelly donuts in the name of eating healthy isn’t exactly the most sane thing to do. But the very fact that jelly donuts have a substantially more healthy type of sugar in them supports the fact that they are indeed the best type of donut. Additionally, jelly donuts give better return on investment because they do not have a hole in the middle. In 2014, Dr. Eugenia Cheng of Sheffield University did a study on the ideal size of donuts and concluded that the ideal ring donut should have a hole with a diameter of .4 inches. This means that a ring donut with the ideal dimensions has as much as 31% less donut in it as compared to the jelly donut. By not having a hole in the middle of the donut, jelly donuts are inherently more worth it than those that do, yet another reason why ring donuts are inferior to their filled counterparts.
Now, all this isn’t to say that regular donuts are bad. Far from it. All donuts should be cherished and considered gifts. A non-jelly donut should not be shunned and refused. Rather, one should gratefully accept and consume the donut, while keeping the superiority of the jelly donut in mind at the same time. Some may notice that in a discussion about the best donut, conspicuously absent is a comparison of the best tasting donut. The reason for that is because unfortunately, in this one region there is no evidence, except for personal experience, that can definitively prove the superiority of the jelly donut. Taste is a matter of preference, and as such no sources or articles can be cited in order to show that jelly donuts are better. Some may have the incorrect notion that other types of donuts are superior in taste to the jelly donut; while blatantly incorrect, this preference cannot be changed by words. And given the fact that jelly donuts have greater cultural significance, historical importance, healthier sugar, and are more worth, the taste of the donut can be generously ceded to the inferiors if necessary without disturbing the reputation of the jelly donut in the slightest.
The jelly donut undeniably is a symbol of great importance. Not only is it a cultural icon, it also powers citizen’s lives on day to day basis and fills them with joy and happiness. And while it may seem ridiculous to argue for the best kind of donut, it’s also important to realize that the entire human race is built on recognizing the best of the best; on predicting the winners and losers of every match. The quest for the best donut is like the quest to find the potential Triple Crown winner or the most efficient worker. And in a world where food and nutrition is more prized than ever, the need to find the world’s best foods is more important than ever. Like it or not, the human race’s raison d’être has always been to get better and better, to improve on the previous generation. Humanity has always been constantly focussed on finding and being the best. And the first step on that thousand mile journey to perfection is the jelly donut.