The Optimist's Creed Print (Mayflower Donuts Original Verse) 1939
The Optimist’s Creed has been cheering up people for more than a hundred years and we are proud to play our part in keeping it in the public eye. This cheerful message was first published in the New York Sun newspaper in 1904. In 1929, a restaurant in Charleston, West Virginia, used the verse because it sold “sinkers” or donuts to customers in its coffee shop.
In 1931 the verse was adopted by Adolph Levitt, an immigrant from Russia who invented the first automatic donut making machine, for his popular Mayflower Donuts chain of shops. He had the adage printed on every donuts box, showing two men dressed as old-fashioned jesters. One was smiling at a fat doughnut with a small hole and the other was frowning at a thin doughnut with a large hole.
Sally Levitt Steinberg, his granddaughter, recalls: ”My grandfather found this motto, The Optimist's Creed, as it is called, inside a cheap picture frame he happened to buy in a dime store. He adopted it as his philosophy of life.” This philosophical gem became so popular that both Franklin D Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover, campaigning in 1932 during The Depression, worked The Optimist’s Creed into their campaign speeches.
The Mayflower Donuts chain closed in the 1970s but the verse lives on.
This illustrated version was created by LA based artist Terry Stafford in the mid 1920s.
Courtesy Private Collection.
Each print is accompanied by a copy of the interior menu where available.
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