Doughnuts or donuts? Fried dough? Vanilla-glazed deep-fried rings of happiness? Breakfast…? Whatever you choose to call them, it’s hard not to love this ubiquitous American classic.

one of my fondest memories growing up in Canada was “Doughnut Day” in elementary school. Every Wednesday, without fail, stacks of oversized pink cardboard boxes lined the counters in the school kitchen filled end to end with the freshest, softest, stickiest glazed doughnuts you could imagine. If by some cruel fate, your mom or dad forgot to fill in the yellow slip the week before, you were out of luck, consigned instead to begging and pleading for just one bite from a friend. These kinds of core memories are hard to shake.

How did this popular treat become one of North America’s most-loved confectionaries? And why the hole in the centre?

Deep-fried dough dates all the way back to ancient Roman times. And the “doughnut,” in one form or another, shows up in history, culture and cuisine around the world. France boasts the beignet, Mexico the churro, Italy the zeppole… the list goes on. But the classic American doughnut with the hole in the middle has a much shorter history.

The origins of the modern doughnut begin around the 1700s when Dutch settlers first introduced the sweet snack to North America through Manhattan, known at the time as New Amsterdam. Back then, doughnuts went by the less-than-appealing name, “olykoeks” or “oily cakes.” And due to their round shape, the dough at the centre of the cakes didn’t always cook through. To solve this problem, resourceful bakers of New Amsterdam cut a hole in the middle before frying. At least that’s one story.

Another, arguably more interesting, tale involves a sailor named Hansen Gregory who, in 1847, found himself at sea during a storm. Needing to keep both hands on the wheel, Captain Gregory didn’t know what to do with the precious doughnut he was enjoying. Instead of tossing it overboard, he impaled his doughnut on one of the pegs of the steering wheel. From that moment on, as the story goes, doughnuts in America were made without their centres.

From Glamorgan Bakery’s famous, super-sized Texas Doughnut to Jelly Modern’s delicate hand-filled Classic Jelly, Calgary’s certainly not lacking in the doughnut department. And while there’ll always be a soft spot in my belly for a bucket of Stampede Mini Donuts, I thought I’d expand my repertoire beyond cinnamon sugar and try something new.

The humble doughnut, I discovered, is an ideal blank canvas for an endless array of toppings. Callebaut chocolate, salted caramel, raw cookie dough, rhubarb crumble, graham crackers and toasted marshmallows … everything bagel spice? It seems there’s nothing doughnut makers won’t try. Welcome to Doughnuts 2.0

Ritual Doughnuts

If they haven’t already, Ritual Doughnuts need to find their way onto your doughnut radar. Made with a signature brioche dough in a range of exciting flavours, Ritual Doughnuts are available at Blush Lane locations every Thursday morning, the Bridgeland Market Thursday-Saturday and Monogram Coffee shops Thursday & Saturday. Try their apple fritter! You won’t be sorry.

Ritual Doughnuts | Bridgeland Market | 1104 1st Ave. N.E. |

ritual donuts

Holy Cow Gelato

Nestled next to Vendome Café in the heart of Sunnyside, Holy Cow Gelato is fairly new to the doughnut scene having only opened its doors in November 2020. Come for the house-made doughnuts for sure, but stay for the freshly-churned gelato.

Holy Cow Gelato | 938 2nd Ave. N.W. | 403.719.1092 |

Glamorgan Bakery

Made fresh daily, the supersized Texas Doughnut comes in three flavours: glazed, chocolate dip, and chocolate dip with sprinkles. These doughnuts have been selling out since 1995 so come before noon to get yours. Texas Doughnuts also make a popular school fundraising item. Schools can contact the bakery for more details.

Glamorgan Bakery | 19 – 3919 Richmond Rd. S.W. | 403.242.2800 |

glamorgan texas donut

Jelly Modern Doughnuts

With three locations around the city including the Calgary Farmer’s Market, Jelly Modern has certainly made a name for itself as one of Calgary’s premier doughnut shops. Try their popular London Fog, Maple Bacon or S’mores doughnut. Jelly Modern also offers unique corporate and catering options.

Jelly Modern Flagship Store | 100 1414 8th St. S.W. | 403.453.2053 |

Hoopla Donuts

Created by Head Chef Leslie Morrow of Phil & Sebastian Coffee Roasters, Hoopla Donuts are sold at all Phil & Sebastian locations. You can also pre-order for pickup or delivery online. Their most popular flavours are London Fog, Crème Brûlée and Death by Chocolate.

Hoopla Donuts | All Phil & Sebastian locations, including Chinook Centre at 6455 Macleod Tr. S.W. | 403.261.1885 |

A1 Cantina, Fonda Fora & Central Taps

Doughnuts are popping up on dessert menus at many Calgary restaurants. Try the cinnamon sugar or glazed doughnut at A1 Cantina, the churros at Fonda Fora or the fresh mini-donuts with blueberry lemon curd and powdered sugar from Calgary’s newest neighbourhood gathering place, Central Taps.

A1 Cantina | 829 49th Ave. S.W. | 403.454.8976 |
Fonda Fora | 630 4th Ave. S.W. | 403.764.6260 |
Central Taps | 110 – 224 12th Ave. S.W. | 403.984.1698 |

Frankie D’s Donuts

A day trip to the mountains for doughnuts? Why not? If you find yourself in Canmore, try to get your hands on one of the oversized doughnuts from Frankie D’s. Named after their beloved pup and founded in 2020 by Canmore couple Makaylah Rogers and Fia-Lynn Crandall, Frankie D’s Donuts is all about bringing community together one donut at a time. All doughnuts must be pre-ordered on their website and can be picked up on “Donut Day” at Tavern 1883. Donut Day varies and you must subscribe to be notified of upcoming pre-orders.

Frankie D’s Donuts | Side door at Tavern 1883 | 709 9th St., Canmore, AB |

frankie d donuts