What is the Historical Link Between Cops and Doughnuts?

Last updated on January 29th, 2023 at 11:21 pm

The relationship between police officers and doughnuts is a well-known and widely accepted cultural stereotype. But where did this association come from?

From the origins of the modern police force to the present day, we’ll explore how this unlikely pairing has come to define a cultural icon.

How did this common belief originate?

The main reason that law enforcement officers and doughnuts are synonymous is because doughnut shops were the only establishment for officers to grab breakfast.

In addition to answering calls and being on patrol, and doing everything a cop has to do during a regular 10-hour shift, a police officer also has to find a spot to do the bulk of police work, writing documents such as reports.

For the general public, a job in law enforcement has always been all about the work on the street.

But in reality, even police officers know that one of the main things you must do during your shift is write reports. And back in the day, police officers had few options for where to post up and do some paperwork.

Even by the late 1970s, a 24-hour convenience store seemed unimaginable to most people. Unlike today, most gas stations were only for getting gas and were not for stocking food items.

Additionally, it closed at a reasonable hour, much like grocery stores. There were few restaurants open all night outside of major cities. Today, this is almost unheard of.

Doughnut Shops Made for the Perfect Office

As you can see, police officers did not have a place to get food when they needed it after a late night of patrolling. A doughnut shop was the only option if an officer needed to grab a quick cup of coffee, a meal, and get some paperwork done.

What was good for the police was also good for the doughnut shop. Opening late in smaller cities and towns made it a target for criminals looking for an easy way to score some cash. In return for using your building for the officers on call, you had around-the-clock security.

This symbiotic relationship has been spreading throughout the country, even as more and more businesses keep their doors open until late hours.

Places like Dunkin’ Donuts had a company-wide policy of catering to police officers, with their founder, William Rosenberg, crediting this early relationship as the key to their early success in his autobiography.

Doughnuts and Popular Culture

As America began to observe the connection between police and donuts, caricature-based depictions like the overindulgent cop Homer Wiggum of The Simpsons became popular.

An innocent beginning eventually ended in harmful discrimination. People from all industries- from stand-up comics to punk bands and rappers- made jokes about the police officer and doughnuts.

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