Almanac: A better doughnut hole

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On July 9, 1872, John F. Blondel won a patent for his spring-loaded device to punch out the center of a doughnut.

CBS News

And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: July 9th, 1872, 145 years ago today … the day John F. Blondel of the state of Maine won a patent for his spring-loaded doughnut cutter -- a much neater way of trimming the dough and punching out that hole.

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John Blondel's cutter, with a coiled spring inside the center tube, designed to cut a hole through the center of a doughnut or cake.  Google Patents

It ought to be noted that it was nineteenth century sea captain Hanson Gregory who is widely credited with having created the hole, which replaced the "nut" (often a walnut) that was traditionally found in the center of the dough (which, of course, explains the name "dough-nut").

Over the years, the doughnut has earned a special place in American hearts, as well as stomachs.

The Salvation Army served countless doughnuts to American troops during the first World War.

And doughnut "handouts" helped sustain an army of unemployed Americans during the Great Depression.

Doughnut dexterity even played a role in the Oscar-winning 1934 film, "It Happened One Night" -- with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert:

Gable: "Say, where'd you learn to dunk, in finishing school?"
Colbert: "Aw, now don't you start telling me I shouldn't dunk."
Gable: "Of course you shouldn't -- you don't know how to do it. Dunking's an art. Don't let it soak so long. A dip … and stuff it in your mouth!"

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Clark Gable teaches doughnut etiquette to Claudette Colbert in "It Happened One Night." Columbia

Doughnuts today come in a wide variety of shapes and colors, flavors and textures.

Still, the one kind of doughnut NO ONE has yet been able to invent is one that's truly low-calorie and low-fat.

Deep-fried by definition, that may be the hardest nut of all to crack.