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A doughnut, or donut, is a deep-fried piece of dough[?] or batter. The two most common shapes are the flattened sphere, which is injected with jam/jelly or another sweet filling; and the ring, which was traditionally formed by wrapping the dough around a stick.

Doughnuts can be made using a yeast-based bread dough, or a special type of cake batter. Cake doughnuts are generally iced with a brightly coloured glace icing[?] designed to appeal to children. Some doughnuts are dredged in cinnamon sugar and eaten hot, while others are filled with jam or custard, briefly soaked in a sugary flavoured solution, or glazed.

Donuts have become a part of western culture. The cartoon character Homer Simpson is especially fond of doughnuts, while popular mythology has American police officers addicted to them. There are entire chains of retail stores devoted to the selling of hot fresh doughnuts to eager customers, eg. Dunkin' Donuts[?], Krispy Kreme, Tim Hortons, Winchell's Donuts[?], and many other chain stores.

Other sweet fried pastries very similar to doughnuts include churros[?] and fritters[?].

Doughnuts have a controversial history.

Were they imported into the USA by Dutch settlers?

A type of doughnut was recorded in the 19th century on the Isle of Wight, UK, with a different recipe from from the type made in mainland Europe.

In France they are called Beignets[?].

In Germany they are called Bismarcks or Berliners[?]. (German doughnuts are sometimes called Berlin Doughnuts in the USA.) John F. Kennedy once famously said "Ich bin ein Berliner", which amuses some commentators because it has a double meaning: both "I am a citizen of Berlin" and "I am a jam (jelly) doughnut".

In the Hudson Valley[?] (which includes the Catskill Mountains[?]) in New York State, USA, a doughnut is sometimes called an olicook, which derives from the Dutch Oliekoeke or 'oil cake' (sometimes also called olykoecks).

The Dutch themselves refer to doughnuts as oliebollen (oily balls).

Doughnuts, as ring shaped items, are an important explanatory tool in the science of topology where the ring donut shape (a ring with a circular cross section) is called a torus or toroid[?], and an example of this can be found in the Poincaré Conjecture.

Washington Irving's reference to "doughnuts" in 1809 in his History of New York is believed to be the first known printed use of the word.

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