The Historic Origin Of The Link Between Police And Donuts

How many of us have actually seen a real-life police officer eating a donut? Television cops don't count, Chief Wiggum especially. We tend to think of police officers through the lens Hollywood places over our eyes. They talk tough, swill coffee, and eat donuts by the dozen. It's a seemingly random stereotype that, nonetheless, continues to stick like escaped jelly. Still, sometimes stereotypes have some truth to them. In the case of cops and donuts, there is a historical precedent the entertainment industry takes its inspiration from.

Think about the work and hours involved with being a police officer. It's not easy. According to Time Magazine, cops constantly pull odd shifts during the hours we pedestrians sleep. Food options in the wee hours are not always plentiful, but there was one place where a police officer out on the beat could go for a quick, cheap snack: the donut shop.

The only stop in town

In the not-too-distant past, the idea of a store that was open 24/7 was considered rare and unusual. According to Coffee or Die Magazine, in the 1960s, only 10% of all restaurants in the entire country were open all night, and they catered mostly to truckers. So, owing to the fact that the typical police officer beat doesn't take them anywhere near an all-night freeway cafe, the all-night donut shop was the only option.

Having donut shops frequented by police officers served a dual purpose. On the one hand, hungry, tired cops could get a boost from a sugary donut and a hot cup of coffee. On the other, shop owners and employees felt safer (via Atlas Obscura). There are more anecdotal stories from police officers that fuel the legend of donut-loving cops. For many, they were an easy snack that was ready to go when they needed it. For others, a place where they could get some work done outside of the office. Overall, donuts and the donut shop serve as social and emotional sustenance for those who carry out the everyday service of keeping us safe.