Friday, September 25, 2009

What's with the doughnut?

The Jackson Library is home to one of the world's oldest known doughnuts.

In early November, 1980 there was an orientation session held in the Bindery Division (now known as the Preservation Services Dept.) of the Jackson Library. Refreshments consisted of two dozen glazed and cake-type doughnuts as well as coffee with milk and sugar. Some say it was finphobia (a social phobia related to the fear of consuming the last of something) for when the party was over a solitary doughnut was left, coveted by all yet untouched.

Around that same time, the bindery acquired an old stereo radio. The reception was bad in the basement so with the aid of some old picture framing wire and some discarded metal binders, an antennae was rigged up to one of the overhead lights. To complete this montage, the last doughnut was added to one of the metal binders. The college radio station came in loud and clear.

In the months to come other modifications came about - a store-bought antennae and finally in the next year- a ghetto blaster replaced the old stereo. But the Doughnut stayed on. Maybe it was sentimentality or maybe it was pure aesthetic choice in the absence of windows but the Bindery Doughnut hung on the ceiling as a beacon for wandering minds. For five years it dangled from its binder, perfectly preserved by white sugar in a slightly shrunken and crystallized state. One day a student accidentally knocked it from its perch and everyone was astonished when it clinked on the floor like a piece of stoneware. It remained intact except for one small chip.

Today dozens of students, faculty and staff make the pilgrimage into the basement of Jackson Library to see for themselves and pay homage to this mysterious talisman. One has to wonder about the recipe that could preserve such a perishable morsel as a doughnut in such a pristine state for posterity. Only one thing is for one will ever eat it now!

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