Just to be clear, it was completely commonplace for World War I soldiers to nickname troops from other countries either out of comradery for allies, contempt for enemies, or just as a simple memory tool. As the British Library says, the British were “Tommy” or “Foot Slogger,” the latter being a term used by British infantry to mock cavalry. The Portuguese were “Tony,” “Pork and Cheese,” or most commonly, “Pork and Beans.” Austrians were “Fritz,” and Turks “Jacko,” “Jacky,” “Johnny Turk,” or “Abdul.” Italians, appropriately so, were “Macaroni,” while French soldiers were “Poilu,” or “hairy.” For their part, the French called themselves “les hommes” or “les bonhommes” — “the men,” basically — same as Americans called themselves “guys.” This means that “Doughboy” is apparently a term that other nation’s soldiers used for American troops, not what American troops called themselves.
But why Doughboys, exactly? Was somebody keen to the effect that future America’s processed food would have on the country’s population? As History says, no one really knows. One guess states that U.S. soldiers got dusty while trekking here and there like they were covered in adobe brick material. Adobe, as this version of the story goes, transformed into Doughboy. Another clay-based guess says that soldiers kept applying white clay to their uniforms for some reason or another, which when wet contorted the shape of the uniform and made the soldiers look like “doughy blobs.”
[Featured image by National Library of Scotland via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled]