Thursday, January 12, 2012

Booknote: Glazed America

I am going to try a bit more to share reviews of books I think may be of interest to my four readers, or just books that I think are worth sharing with others a bit more. So, here is my short review of Glazed America as I posted it on GoodReads. I am sharing this one because I did find it interesting overall. Also, it seemed like something good to read given that East Texas pretty much as a doughnut shop in every corner, and no, that may not be a good thing. In addition, I was finishing up the book just as I heard stories reported on Dunkin Donuts expanding (link here to Huffington Post, but it has been reported in other places). It was kind of neat to be reading something related to a news story.

Glazed America: A Social History of the DoughnutGlazed America: A Social History of the Doughnut by Paul R. Mullins

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting book, but it did have some repetitive moments. It was the repetition at times that made me give it three stars instead of four. In some ways, this read like an extended series of magazine articles. Now, leaving that out of the way, it is a pretty interesting book. The book does a few things. It gives a history of doughnuts and especially of doughnut shops in the U.S. Though there is a bit focus on the chains (Dunkin', Tim Hortons, and Krispy Kreme), there is discussion of independents and their role in that history. The book also gives a look at the social role that doughnuts play in American society from being served in church functions and in office settings to the shops being one of the few hangouts teens have given they are too young to drink. Third, it looks at the morality and ambivalence of feelings that doughnuts generate. Are they comfort food? Are they the devil incarnate when it comes to diet and food discipline? Something else? Why are they so appealing and yet so reviled depending on who you ask? The author does a pretty good job of conveying this conflict. And finally, there are also bits and pieces of the economic dynamics involved in the doughnut business from marketing to image. When you think about it, the book does cover an awful lot in a little volume, thus if you like microhistories, you will probably find this one interesting. And if nothing else, well, it is a pretty short read.

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