Published on: June 5, 2017by Kevin Coupe
One of the things that I love most about my job is that I end up reading so much stuff - newspapers and magazines and websites that have stories about subjects that I'd never thought about before.
I end up learning stuff, pretty much every day. Which is a pretty good way to make a living.
The Los Angeles Times decided to do a story about why so so many doughnuts shops in the region use essentially the same 9-by-9-by-4-inch cardboard container with four semicircle flaps to fold together - and that always comes in pink.
It was something about which I'd never spent any time thinking. But the answer is fascinating.
"The pink box is a distinctly regional tradition, one so ingrained it often requires an outsider to notice. The Northeast has Dunkin’ Donuts and its neon orange and pink box. The South has Krispy Kreme and its polka dot box. But come to Los Angeles and it’s the no-frills pink box, with signature grease marks, that commands counter space in our offices, waiting rooms and police stations ... But unlike New York’s celebrated Grecian coffee cups, the pink box has endured with little fanfare, its origins something of a mystery.
"One thing is certain, though, the pink box phenomenon could only happen here. Southern California is the undisputed epicenter of the doughnut world — a testament to our love affair with junk food you can handle behind a steering wheel. L.A. County alone has at least 680 doughnut shops, according to Yelp, about 200 more than New York City and double the number in Chicago’s Cook County. Instead of national chains, the Southern California doughnut sector is dominated by mom-and-pop businesses run by immigrants, none more influential than Cambodian Americans."
And it is the presence of Cambodian Americans in the Southern Californias doughnut business that seems to account for the pink boxes. In addition to the 9-by-9-by-4-inch pink boxes being a perfect fit for a dozen doughnuts, they also "cost a few cents less than the standard white. That’s a big deal for shops that go through hundreds, if not thousands, of boxes a week. It didn’t hurt either that pink was a few shades short of red, a lucky color for the refugees, many of whom are ethnic Chinese. White, on the other hand, is the color of mourning."
The trend, the story says, has caught on in other places, with boxes being sold "in Arizona and Texas to relatives of local Cambodian doughnut shop owners.
"And few pink doughnut boxes are more coveted than those found at Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, Oregon. "The owner took a trip to California 15 years ago, and promptly inspired him not just to use pink boxes but adopt the slogan, “Good things come in pink boxes.”
And one last piece of arcane information. Next time you are watching a TV show that takes place in New York, and see you see a pink box of doughnuts, you'll know that it was shot in Los Angeles.
Now that's what I call an Eye-Opener.
- KC's View: