Glazed America
A History of the Doughnut

Paul R. Mullins

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A trip through the doughnut hole to learn what a humble circle of fried dough tells us about ourselves

"Mullins does a fine job of examining the doughnut not as a singular thing or symbol, but as a complex object that elicits many subtly different--sometimes contradictory--ideas about us. He grapples with the complicated social history of this particular food item not by merely examining its physical history, but by tracing the rich and complicated connections between doughnuts and people across time, space, ethnic identity, and national boundaries."--Jamie C. Brandon, coeditor of Household Chores and Household Choices

Everybody loves a good doughnut. The magic combination of soft dough, hot oil, and sugar coating--with or without sprinkles--inspires a wide range of surprisingly powerful memories and cravings. Yet we are embarrassed by our desire; the favorite food of Homer Simpson, caricatured as the dietary cornerstone of cops, a symbol of our collective descent into obesity, doughnuts are, in the words of one California consumer, a "food of shame."

Paul Mullins turns his attention to the simple doughnut in order to learn more about North American culture and society. Both a breakfast staple and a snack to eat any time of day or night, doughnuts cross lines of gender, class, and race like no other food item. Favorite doughnut shops that were once neighborhood institutions remain unchanged--even as their surrounding neighborhoods have morphed into strip clubs, empty lots, and abandoned housing.

Blending solid scholarship with humorous insights, Mullins offers a look into doughnut production, marketing, and consumption. He confronts head-on the question of why we often paint doughnuts in moral terms, and shows how the seemingly simple food reveals deep and complex social conflicts over body image and class structure.

In Mullins's skillful hands, this simple pastry provides surprisingly compelling insights into our eating habits, our identity, and modern consumer culture.
Paul R. Mullins (1962-2023) was professor of anthropology at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis. His books include The Archaeology of Consumer Culture.

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" From the impact the mechanization of doughnut production had on the industry after World War I, to the emergence of car culture and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, the anthropologist pinpoints the deeper side of fried dough. Whether cake, glazed or sprinkled, it seems there's more to the doughnut story than cops and coffee."
--Indianapolis dine

" "Doughnuts," Homer Simpson once marveled. "Is there anything they can't do?" From one expert to another: In "Glazed America: A History of the Doughnut," anthropologist Paul Mullins traces the pastry from sweet-tooth snack to shining symbol of national gluttony."

" For those who can suffer the cravings, this makes a satisfying tour."
--Publishers Weekly

" From this slight pastry probuct has come a substantial book that, with a wink, takes us through a pop culture history of the 20th century."
--St. Petersburg Times

"Dives into the country's obsession with this most hole-y of foods and there's a lot more to the sugary confection than you might imagine."
--The Satellite

"Makes a strong case for the importance of doughnuts in history." "An entertaining book."
--Library Journal

"An enjoyable read." "Provides an insightful and thorough look at place doughnuts have in our society and the complex relationship that exists between food, culture, economics and history. It provokes thought and discussion about why we enjoy certain foods and gives context for a deeper discussion about everything ranging from consumerism and economics to morality."
--Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition

"From this slight pastry product has come a substantial book that, with a wink, takes us through a pop culture history of the 20th century."

"An absorbing and informative read. It is packed with carefully sourced data, delightful quotations, excellent notes, has a wonderful biliography, and is well illustrated."

“Traces the sweet’s history—from its World War I role as a taste of home for the troops to the midcentury rise of roadside doughnut shops—and gets to the center of the health dispute over Homer Simpson’s favorite snack”
--Reminisce Magazine

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