cops/donuts meme

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Mon May 14 14:23:25 UTC 2007

To add just a note or two to Jim's very sensible comments:

The history of specialty doughnut shops might be traceable--and not just Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme. In the early 1960s, a place called Spudnuts opened in Austin (the gimmick was an undetectable quantity of potato flour added to the doughnut dough--WHY I can't imagine); I think it was a chain. But I'm guessing that doughnut traditions flourished in the Northeast before they reached the South.

In the South it was more common to acquire the requisite sugar-and-caffeine rush from pie and coffee at the counter of a restaurant. Sometimes pie and coffee would even constitute an impecunious meal--as for Joe Christmas in Faulkner's _Light in August_ (and for ME in my college days!).

And then there was the beloved Moonpie and RC Cola pairing . . . .


---- Original message ----
>Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 09:46:39 -0400
>From: "Landau, James" <James.Landau at NGC.COM>
>Subject: Re: cops/donuts meme
>Here's a somewhat tangential answer:  organized fire buffs have been
>showing up at fires and serving coffee and doughnuts to firefighters
>since at least circa 1960 when I first became aware of the practice (in
>an otherwise forgotten detective novel).  I'm sure that if you check
>some historical references on firefighting in the US, you will find
>mention of coffee and doughnuts.
>Why coffee?  Because it keeps you awake and feeling energetic.
>Why doughnuts?  Because they are stereotyped as a working man's food,
>not in the sense of lower class workers but in the sense of a man, any
>social class, with a job to do.  Consider a laborer in the middle of a
>job who wants a sugar rush.  If he asks for candy he'll sound sissy.  If
>he asks for a French pastry he'll get laughed at.  But asking for a
>doughnut is macho (but not male chauvinistic; genteel women can also eat
>doughnuts in public).
>So this leaves us with the question of how the doughnut became the
>universal US high-sugar food.  Barry?
>What about cops and doughnuts?  Consider that truck drivers are also
>stereotyped as coffee-and-doughnut eaters.  What happens here is that
>when a man (or a woman for that matter) is in the middle of a job and
>takes a quick snack break, he (or she) can always order doughnuts
>without gettting stared at.  Hence it is not just cops, it is anybody
>who has to eat a quick meal in the middle of a job.
>Now for a chicken-and-egg question:  which came first, the demand for
>doughnuts as fast food, or the practice of pre-McDonald's eat-and-go
>places having doughnuts for sale?
>    - Jim Landau
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Sam Clements [mailto:SClements at NEO.RR.COM]
>Sent: Sunday, May 13, 2007 9:48 PM
>Subject: cops/donuts meme
>Can anyone cite a historic reference to when the police started to be
>associated with donuts?  Is this an invention of the 1960's?
>Sam Clements

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list