At the Los Angeles Times, David Pierson unties the story of why doughnut boxes are so frequently pink, particularly in southern California. It's a story of Cambodian refugees who emigrated to the US in the 1970s and built the donut market. But why pink? From the LA Times:
According to (Bakemark, formerly Westco) company lore, a Cambodian doughnut shop owner asked Westco some four decades ago if there were any cheaper boxes available other than the standard white cardboard. So Westco found leftover pink cardboard stock and formed a 9-by-9-by-4-inch container with four semicircle flaps to fold together. To this day, people in the business refer to the box as the "9-9-4."
"It's the perfect fit for a dozen doughnuts," said Jim Parker, BakeMark's president and chief executive.
More importantly to the thrifty refugees, it cost a few cents less than the standard white. That's a big deal for shops that go through hundreds, if not thousands, of boxes a week. It didn't hurt either that pink was a few shades short of red, a lucky color for the refugees, many of whom are ethnic Chinese. White, on the other hand, is the color of mourning.
Len Bell, president of Evergreen Packaging in La Mirada, first noticed the proliferation of pink boxes as a regional manager for Winchell's in the early 1980s. Back in the Southland after a few years in Minnesota, Bell was amazed to see the doughnut business seemingly transformed overnight by Cambodian refugees, who proved quick studies and skillful businesspeople.
"Pink boxes have been around for a long time, don't get me wrong," he said. "But they really came into vogue in the late '70s and early '80s simply because it was a less expensive box to produce and buy."
photo: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times