The Real Reason Cops Are Always Eating Doughnuts

The Real Reason Cops Are Always Eating Doughnuts

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Lauren Masur
Aug 14, 2018
(Image credit: ricochet64/Shutterstock)

You're about to get a history lesson that involves doughnuts, and here's your first chance at extra credit: If you can think of a more appealing-sounding genre of history lesson, please let me know in the comments below.

Jumping right in with a challenge for the class: Name a cinematic depiction of a bumbling cop that doesn't involve a dozen half-eaten doughnuts for comic relief. Although the plot device might seem a little stale, the reason why the cliché exists in the first place actually makes perfect sense.

Benjamin Clawhauser of the ZPD in Zootopia, enjoying a donut.

According to this deep dive from Atlas Obscura, the police force first earned its association with doughnuts in the 1950s when night patrol officers switched from walking a beat to being more based in cars. They needed a reliable establishment where they could park their cruisers (and pick up a pick-me-up).

What better than a doughnut and coffee for a sugary, caffeine boost to make it through the overnight shift? Around the same era, both Krispy Kreme and Dunkin' Donuts franchises expanded across the nation, making doughnuts not-so-hard to come by.

The fact that doughnut shops open so early (or stay open so late) to prepare for the early morning rush make them the perfect place for a patrol pitstop. And not only is a doughnut a super quick form of sustenance, but it's also a pretty reliable comfort food when on the front lines of conflict.

Over time, these doughy treats have been also been used as a metaphor for abuse of power, laziness, and corruption — as well as a means to poke fun at a certain subset of the law enforcement community. More often that not, though, officers are in on the joke. Perhaps most importantly, doughnuts have served as a way of making an intimidating profession seem a little more relatable.

Read more at Atlas Obscura: The Long, Sweet Love Affair Between Cops and Doughnuts

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