Monday, January 28, 2013

Donut Mania

Is it possible that someone could grow up in North America never having tried a donut? Do you know anyone who hasn't eaten a donut?

I don't, but at the other extreme a man named John Haight ate 29 donuts in just over six minutes back in 1981 to claim the Guinness World Record for donut eating. It makes you wonder if he could have eaten the worlds largest donut. It was an American-style jelly donut made in Utica, New York on January 21, 1993 that weighed 1.7 tons and was 16 feet in diameter - if not the donut, maybe he could have finished the hole or the jelly? Here is a whimsical page with a dozen interesting facts about donuts.

Donuts are ingrained in North American popular culture with TV characters like Homer Simpson satirizing your typical donut lover. Police are often ridiculed for hanging out at donut shops a lot, but it's probably not a fair rap since they may be the only restaurants open on late night shifts, and of course in a parking lot most people will spot the cruiser. There's a Tim Horton's donut shop across the street from a hospital in our city that is swarmed by health care workers on evening and night shifts. You might predict that many romances between cops and nurses began over the odd jelly sprinkled donut. Legend has it that dunking donuts first caught on when actress Mae Murray accidentally dropped a donut into her coffee while dining at Lindy's Deli on Broadway in New York City.

How relevant are donuts to the economics of society? It's claimed that in the United States there are over 10 billion donuts made every year - somewhat amazing for a sugary product that has little or no nutritional value. Some economists claim that you can judge the health of the economy by looking at the size of the hole in a donut. The hole is smaller when times are good because more dough is used. Could the shape have some universal appeal as a symbol - a circle - an empty hole - complete - but incomplete all at the same time? It certainly is a numerical symbol as shown by the Donut Abacus, although the donuts are often plastic in that case. In terms of economics, I'd like to see the former Billionaires at Krispy Kreme weigh in here.