Isn’t it funny the way we take stereotypes for granted without ever considering where they come from? I mean, I know I’ve never seen a cop eating a doughnut in person, (I imagine it’s akin to seeing a unicorn) but yet google turns up thousands of results for cops either posing with or chowing down on doughnuts. So at this point I had to know why doughnuts are associated with cops. 

The association is so widespread, there’s even a chain of doughnut shops named for the stereotype! So with its prevalence in movies and TV shows, where did this trope even come from? Well with national doughnut day here and gone (#rip), I decided to bring doughnuts back into the spotlight and find out why we so steadfastly stereotype them with the police. Here’s why doughnuts are associated with cops:   

Late Hours

Because crime doesn’t occur conveniently between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. , our police officers have always had to work beyond the work day. Being a cop is a stressful job, and I don’t know about you, but I get hungry when I’m stressed. Imagine an officer, driving around on the midnight shift, looking for a snack to fuel his or her quest for justice: the only option would typically be a diner or a doughnut shop, both of which were typically open late night and early morning. (24-hour Dunkin' Donuts, anyone?)

But for the officer on the go, the diner isn’t a practical choice of the two. Think of the time it would take to order, wait on the food, eat and then proceed to wait on the check, all while the police scanner is going unmonitored in the officer's Ford Crown Victoria. But a doughnut shop? Just order a coffee (perfect for the all-night shifts) and pick a doughnut flavor, all with no time wasted on waiting for the food or bill. You can see why this would appeal to an officer who could get radioed to stop a crime at any moment. 


Once police became pretty established patrons of late-night doughnut shops, a sort of symbiotic relationship evolved. Before the days of chain doughnut stores (again, looking at you, Dunkin’) most doughnut stores were mom and pop type joints, open late to prepare the next day’s batch of deliciousness, sometimes located in seedy neighborhoods.

Being typically family owned and very cash heavy (I mean, who’s going to charge a two-dollar doughnut?) they were perfect targets for robberies. You can imagine why having police frequent their stores was worth more than just a doughnut and coffee sale- it was worth protection. The relationship that then evolved to further perpetuate the stereotype was that doughnut shops would frequently not charge police in an attempt to gain additional protection.

The funny thing is, the whole cop and doughnuts thing is completely out of date- today, an officer could just as easily swing through a McDonald’s drive through as he could a Krispy Kreme. Yet, the stereotype endures, even though police aren’t seen at doughnut shops in nearly the numbers they used to have been. In a way, it’s become a stereotype of itself, which is pretty meta.

Our culture just keeps perpetuating the idea of cops loving doughnuts through the portrayal of police in the media, and we continue to buy into the relationship. The reality is, what started off as a fairly necessary reason for cops to go to doughnut stores has evolved into cops buying doughnuts by choice… because they taste good. I mean, let’s be real, when that Krispy Kreme “Hot Now” sign turns on, I wouldn’t blame an officer for putting his siren on and cruising in. I'd do the very same.