I must have been suffering from a case of the old Sweet Tooth when Glazed America caught my eye at the library. The doughnuts on the cover do look mighty tempting. I do enjoy reading books about food so that may have had something to do with it as well.
Paul Mullins is an anthropology professor at Purdue University and in his book, Glazed America, he delves into the cultural and socio-economic history of doughnuts. Mullins presents doughnuts as an iconic American food that we have a love/hate relationship with. In the opening chapter “The Church of Krispy Kreme” , Mullins states the general thesis of the book:
People have remarkably strong sentiments about doughnuts, but many of us find it hard to elevate krullers to the status of mirrors for American society. We seem to harbor both fondness and embarrassment for doughnuts, and that ambivalence has complex roots. For many observers, doughnuts are symbols of temptation, unhealthiness, and personal weakness.
Mullins talks about how technological advances lead to the ability to mass-produce doughnuts, which in turn lead to the proliferation of doughnut shops across America. Mullins discusses the founding and expansion of the different doughnut chains such a Tim Horton’s, Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme.
I live pretty close to the birthplace of Dunkin Donuts. In fact, one of the Dunkin Donuts in my town is the busiest one in the nation. This is Dunkin country and most people I know LOVE to go to “Dunkys”, however most of those people state they love it for the coffee…no one ever says they love it for the doughnuts. Is this because of the “fatties love their doughnuts”-stigma that Mullins states Americans attach to doughnut consumption? I am one of those who gets coffee from DD way more often than I get doughnuts. For me, I prefer to “spend” my calories elsewhere, on something that I can savor more. Occasionally, I will splurge and get a doughnut, but usually from a place that bakes them from scratch on sight, such as Flour Bakery in Boston’s South End.
Glazed America is not so much about the history of the doughnut but rather is about the history of the doughnut’s place in American society and pop culture. I would have liked to have seen a little more about the doughnut itself such as the evolution of the different flavors, toppings and fillings. The book is chock full of black and white photos of doughnut shops and other doughnut-related paraphernalia.