Have you ever driven around LA and noticed millions of those little random, janky donut shops in pretty much like every single strip mall? Well, there’s a sick documentary on Hulu detailing it all and it’s a pretty wild story.
It’s called The Donut King and basically, in the 70s, after the Cambodian civil war, there was a major influx of Cambodian refugees into the United States. They needed jobs to be able to provide for their families (they were used to working the fields for rice in Cambodia, so many of them had many children in order to help with the farming).
Meanwhile, it just so happened that there was a Donut rivalry brewing in the United States. You see, Dunkin’ Donuts controlled the donut market in the East Coast and Winchell’s Donuts controlled the donut market in the West. Dunkin was about to make a big move out to California, so Winchell’s knew they had to do everything they could to stop them.
With the influx of Cambodian’s willing to work, Winchell’s practically hired all of them and doubled down, opening twice as many Winchell’s locations to compete with Dunkin, all run and managed by Cambodian immigrants. Their plan worked and drove Dunkin out of west coast expansion. However, Ted, one of the Cambodian immigrants, didn’t like that these Cambodians were doing all the work and Winchell’s still owned all the stores. So he saved up and using what Winchell’s taught him about the donut game, opened up his own independent donut store. Then, he loaned other Cambodian immigrant friends money to get out of the Winchell’s game and do the same.
Soon enough, independent donut shops run by Cambodian immigrants were springing up all over town. DK’s Donut’s, SK’s Donuts, Jolly Donuts, Donuts USA, you name it. And because they all had large families with many kids, it meant that they could have huge staff at their donut shop without having to pay anyone. These Cambodians were killing it! They even became responsible for creating the iconic pink donut box known across the country (because pink boxes were cheaper than white boxes and these Cambodians were always trying to save on costs wherever they could). Ted was raking in money left and right and became a prolific gambler, making trips to Vegas left and right. And well, the rest… you just gotta watch the documentary to find out.