When two of the women, Margaret Sheldon and Helen Purviance came up with the idea of making donuts to remind the soldiers of home, they found they were missing the needed cooking supplies: rolling pins, cookie cutters, flour and sugar. So, the two collected excess rations for the dough, and shell casings and wine bottles for makeshift rolling pins. They filled a soldier’s helmet with lard to fry the braided donuts and later used an empty condensed milk can with a narrow tube of camphor ice to made a cutter in the true donut shape.
At the start, they were able to make 150 donuts a day, but over time, that grew to 2,500 doughnuts, eight dozen cupcakes, fifty pies, 800 pan cakes and 255 gallons of cocoa, still done in a day. The donuts were simple in flavor, but still delicious, made only with flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, eggs and milk, then dusted with powdered sugar after being fried. (Recipe at bottom of the page) The donuts and the “Donut Lassies” who made and served them, had an outsized impact on the soldiers’ psyche.