How doughnut shops became a sweet American Dream

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Doughnut shops: A saccharine American Dream

Doughnut shops: A saccharine American Dream 04:59

The mom-and-pop doughnut stores that dot California's portion malls transportation mostly the aforesaid mouth-watering doughy delights. But beyond the rows of glazed, cocoa and sprinkles lies a antithetic benignant of richness, successful the stories of the Americans down the counter.

Roughly 80% of doughnut shops successful confederate California – that's good implicit a 1000 – are owned by Cambodian exile families. They arrived successful America successful the precocious 1970s and aboriginal '80s seeking information arsenic the Communist Khmer Rouge committed genocide successful Cambodia's sidesplitting fields. Millions were executed oregon disappeared.

Many who escaped settled successful California, and recovered enactment successful doughnut shops. 

doughnut-shop-pink-box-wide.jpg About 80 percent of doughnut shops successful confederate California are owned by the families of Cambodian refugees, who came to the States successful the 1970s and '80s.  CBS News

"We immigrated close aft the genocide," said Teresa Ngo, who owns Blinkie's Donuts successful Woodland Hills. Her household has owned doughnut stores since the 1980s. "At the beginning, erstwhile you get here, you don't talk the language, and you person household that offers you a job. And adjacent happening you know, they've been doing it for their full life, and sometimes a fewer generations astatine a time."

Erin Curtis, an L.A. historiographer with the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art successful Los Angeles, said that refugees weren't offered galore resources, and had to fig retired however they could enactment each other. "California has had a agelong past of doughnut culture," she said. "And it's go adjacent much famous, I would argue, successful the past 40 years oregon so, and that's truly owed to Cambodian refugees who benignant of came successful and expanded the doughnut civilization present successful Southern California precise greatly."

Correspondent Elaine Quijano asked, "It's just to accidental it's portion of American civilization then?"

"Yeah, absolutely."

A civilization which present includes the pinkish doughnut box. Decades ago, Cambodian store owners bypassed costly achromatic boxes for cheaper pinkish boxes, which acceptable a twelve doughnuts perfectly. The determination not lone saved thousands of dollars; it besides created an icon of sweetness.

01-02-10-28.jpg CBS News

"I astir apt learned however to fold a pinkish doughnut container earlier I learned my ABCs," said Dorothy Chow, who contiguous manages a doughnut proviso company. The girl of Cambodian refugees, she grew up moving successful respective of her parents' stores, and considers herself a "doughnut kid."

"There were immoderate days that I worked possibly 12-, 13-, 14-hour days," said Chow. "But then, present arsenic I'm older, I tin look backmost astatine it with pride. Like, I americium a portion of thing bigger. I americium portion of this full travel that our parents person been on. They came present with nothing. They needed each the assistance that they could with the doughnut shop. And we were determination to assistance and enactment them whenever we can."

A communicative which is present being unboxed.  Phung Hyunh is simply a Cambodian-American creator who came to America arsenic a refugee. In her exhibit, "Doughnut (W)hole," astatine Self Help Graphics & Art successful Los Angeles, she uses a pinkish doughnut container alternatively of a achromatic canvas to seizure a sensation of the Cambodian-American exile experience.

"That communal shared acquisition of the doughnut is precise American," she said. "Underneath the saccharine of the doughnut is really inter-generational trauma and pain."

Hyunh's creation focuses successful ample portion connected the 2nd generation.  She juxtaposes puerility images of "doughnut kids" with the portraits of the adults they've become. "It's lone this procreation calved successful the United States to archer their parents, 'Look, we wanna grant you. You ne'er had the clip to adjacent deliberation astir what you've been through. And we privation to instrumentality this clip to grant your communicative due to the fact that you didn't person the clip to constitute astir it,'" Hyunh said.

One of her portraits: Dorothy Chow.

phung-hyunh-portraits.jpg Phung Hyunh's portraits of "doughnut kids" present grown up, including Dorothy Chow (top). CBS News

When asked to described seeing her representation connected a pinkish doughnut box, Chow replied, "I had a consciousness of pride. I deliberation possibly for the archetypal clip I felt similar increasing up successful America and possibly making sacrifices I did arsenic a kid was yet being seen."

Now, arsenic an adult, Chow herself sees things otherwise – similar the pinkish boxes she erstwhile folded arsenic a small girl. "These doughnut boxes are an illustration of resilience and a practice of the exile acquisition present successful America," she said.

For much info:

Blinkie's Donuts, Woodland Hills, Calif.Artist Phung HyunhExhibition: "Doughnut (W)hole" by Phung Huynh, astatine Self Help Graphics & Art, Los Angeles (through May 27)B&H Bakery Distributors, Hayward, Calif. Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Los Angeles

Story produced by Sharaf Mowjood. Editor: Remington Korper. 

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