The doughnut hole was invented in 1847 by 16-year-old sailor Hanson Crockett Gregory. At the time, regular doughnuts tended to have a raw center, so Captain Gregory punched holes in them with a tin pepper box.
Even though doughnuts, in one form or another, have been around for a very long time, they were brought to America by the Dutch under the name "olykoeks," or "oily cakes." By the mid-19th century, common doughnut toppings were nutmeg, cinnamon, hazelnuts and walnuts. The use of nuts on the top of the doughnut middle is what gave the doughnut its name, literally "dough" and "nut."