Donuts have become one of the top American treats, and while many may assume that its greasy origins come from some American bakery, the first known donut actually originated in Germany, found in the 1485 cookbook titled Küchenmeisterei (“Mastery of the Kitchen”).
The original donut was not of the sweet variety and instead was filled with meat, cheese, mushrooms, and other staples of German food. It wasn’t until the 16th century, when sugar prices dropped, that the donut took on a sweeter form that we are more familiar with today.
Depending on which region of Germany you are in, the name for donut varies significantly. The most popular name, Berliners, has been used for over 200 years. Berlin natives opted to come up with their own name for the treat, and decided on Pfannkuchen… the word for pancake throughout the rest of the country.
Berliners is still the common name thought north and west Germany, but in central and south Germany, you will find donuts going by Krapfen. Other areas, mainly Hesse and the Palitinate, refer to them as Kreppel.
Eventually the sugary treat made its way to the United States and the donut evolved into the common hole in the middle shape we see in donut shops today.
For a more detailed look at the history of the German donut, check out the source link below.