For many a pastry aficionado, a donut in both hands is nothing more than a well-balanced diet. But what do they say about more than three dozen donuts?!

Early June saw Midway’s flight deck transformed into a makeshift bakery as it hosted the Salvation Army’s National Donut Day 4th Annual World Donut Eating Championship.

Donut-eating contest winner, Miki Sudo, consumed 39 ½ donuts in eight minutes.

“The Midway was the perfect location for the event due to strong Southern California military ties,” said Jake Minger, communications manager for the Salvation Army’s San Diego regional office. “It was wonderful for us to be able to say thank you to veterans who have proudly served America.”

The Salvation Army established National Donut Day in 1938 to honor it’s “Doughnut Lassies” volunteers who risked their lives to raise spirits of thousands of U.S. soldiers serving on the front lines in Europe during World War I.

In 1917, these patriotic Salvation Army volunteers traveled to France delivering donuts and other sweet treats to servicemembers fighting in the war. The donut was then, and continues to be, a taste of home and a symbol of comfort for members of the American armed forces.

“The donut actually commemorates the start of the Salvation Army’s veteran’s services more than 100 years ago,” said Lt. Col. Lee Lescano, divisional secretary for the San Diego regional office. “In World War I, the Salvation Army’s lassies brought a little comfort, a little of home to soldiers which included donuts that they made in their helmets.”

“Our Donut Day was a big success! The event raised close to $20,000 for veterans.”

To celebrate National Donut Day and honor military veterans, the Salvation Army returned to Midway for its fund-raising donut-eating contest.

“The fundraiser supported veterans assisted through many of the services provided by The Salvation Army including employment, homelessness, and drug and alcohol programs,” said Jake. “All of the money raised stays in Southern California.”

The donut-eating contest, while fun, was not a casual affair. It was series business. The contestants included the number-one-ranked female competitive eater in the world, Miki Sudo. The challenge was simple, whoever ate the most donuts in eight minutes, would be crowned victorious.

When the horn sounded, Miki left her fellow competitors in the powdered-sugar dust, devouring 39 ½ donuts.

“I’m the fifth ranked competitive eater, men and women combined,” said Miki, won the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest for the eighth time in 2022. “I was just a girl having a great time on the USS Midway. It was such an honor to be here and to win.”

For most, it’s difficult to have a bad day when surrounded by oodles of donuts. The National Donut Day celebration on the museum’s flight deck was more than just bake-shop merriment, the funds raised will allow the Salvation Army to continue its support of veterans in need.

“Our Donut Day was a big success,” said Jake. “The event raised close to $20,000 for veterans. We hope to do it again next year on Midway.”

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