TAMPA - Today is the 79th annual National Doughnut Day, but the unofficial holiday is more than an excuse to eat a couple doughnuts.

It was started in 1938 to honor the Salvation Army's "doughnut lassies." This group of women worked on the front line during World War I and World War II serving free doughnuts and coffee to the soldiers.

The Salvation Army credits the doughnut lassies with popularizing the popular pastry in the United States.

"It's just such an old-school, American classic. You know, right up there with baseball," said Tina Contes, the General Manager of Dough in South Tampa.

You can score a free doughnut all over town today.

Dough is offering a free classic doughnut to anyone who stops in, while supplies last.

Krispy Kreme will also be handing out free doughnuts.

Both Dunkin' Donuts and Cumberland Farms and giving away free doughnuts with a beverage purchase.