Myth Trivia: Native Americans, donuts and Warner Brothers cartoons

Donuts, Native Americans and Looney Tunes trivia


CHARLOTTE, N.C., Aug. 5, 2015 – When you delve into the world of trivia. you quickly learn that, in most cases, there are multiple answers to a question. Often the best we can do is present the options and let you be the judge.

1 – Why donuts have holes: Most of the choices in this story center around a man named Hanson Gregory. One that doesn’t says, “An Indian’s arrow aimed at a housewife pierced a round of fried cake.” Whether the story is true is pure speculation, but, if factual, it could radically alter the history of that first Thanksgiving.

Hanson Gregory was an old New England sea captain from Camden, Me. According to the Lewiston Evening Journal, legend number one is “that he liked to munch fried cakes while steering his craft. One day, in 1847, the seas were rough and he needed both hands to control the rudder. So he slapped several cakes on the spoke of his wheel, making holes.”

Choice number two is that Gregory purposely poked holes in his donuts in order to lighten them because six of his men went overboard due to the “heaviness” of the snack.

Finally, and perhaps the most logical, is the version Henry himself liked to tell as an old man. When he was a boy Gregory watched his mother frying donuts and noticed that the centers frequently remained partially uncooked and raw. To solve the problem, the young boy told his mom to “leave a hole in the center.” Hanson Gregory’s mother obeyed her son’s request and from that day forward never returned to her old method.
And that’s the “hole” truth.

2 – The five “civilized” Native American tribes: During the earliest years of Anglo-European settlements in North America, there were five groups of Native Americans that were known as the “civilized tribes.” The Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks and Seminoles were given this distinction because they adopted many of the attributes of colonial culture, including Christianity, centralized government, written constitutions, free trade and literacy.

In fact, a scholar named Sequoya, after numerous attempts, invented the Cherokee syllabary, which virtually made his tribe literate almost overnight.

The so-called five “civilized tribes” eventually intermarried with white settlers and attempted to maintain stable political relations with their white foreign immigrants.

During the same era, other tribes were regarded as “wild” because they chose to maintain their traditional practices.

Though the term “civilized tribes” was commonplace in its time (even the five members used the designation), the degree of “civilization” is debatable because much of the history of that period was related through oral traditions rather than written documents. As a result, the term “civilized tribes” is controversial today and is no longer commonly used.

For the purposes of historical reference, a less offensive form has simply become “The Five Tribes” referring to various levels of cultural assimilation by the native people who lived east of the Mississippi River.

3 – Differences between Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: One of the real treasures kids of today are unfamiliar with is those delicious Warner Brothers theatrical cartoons of yesteryear. Even now the classic adventures of Road Runner and Wiley Coyote would still grab the attention of youngsters. Nothing can top those brief seven-minute gems for animation genius.

Old timers will remember Saturday mornings at the movies or the pre-feature cartoons that featured Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies. Both were produced by the same company, but they never explained the difference.

In the beginning two series were developed by producer Leon Schlesinger and Warner Brothers with different production teams. It all makes sense when you learn that Looney Tunes, introduced in 1930, was a rip-off of Walt Disney’s series titled “Silly Symphonies.”

Warner Brothers cartoons had a dual purpose. The first was to run before the main Warner Brothers feature in a theater, and the second was to include at least one full chorus from a song from a Warner film. The production schedule called for a new cartoon to appear approximately once a month.

Merrie Melodies followed with a similar deadline, but initially the difference was that Looney Tunes featured regular characters such as Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig. Merrie Melodies did not have continuing characters.

The other major difference was that Merrie Melodies went to color in 1934 while the Tunes remained black and white.

By the end of the decade, the “regulars” began showing up in Melodies as well, and by the 1940s the two series were virtually interchangeable. In 1943, Looney Tunes went to color and, for all intents, though the two series continued, there was little difference between them.

Kids today can keep their elaborate video games. I’ll take Road Runner, Wiley Coyote, the Martian and Foghorn Leghorn every time.

“Th-th-that’s all Folks!”

Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award-winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.

Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (

Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News

Follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod

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Bob Taylor
Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.