The Pink Doughnut Box Phenomenon
Great Big Story recently released a video about a man with a doughnut dream. This story isn't about doughnuts though, it's about the iconic pink box that they come in.
Particularly in Southern California, where doughnut shops are plentiful, the pink box has become the go-to packaging choice for several bakeries. The Great Big Story video explains that's all thanks to Ted Ngoy, a Cambodian refugee who came to the United States in the 1970s. When he arrived in California, he began to open doughnut shops — dozens of doughnut shops — from which he sponsored other refugees and taught them the business. One of the staples of this doughnut shop empire, was the pink box the doughnuts were served in, which the video explains still lives on today — across Southern California and beyond.
"The pink box is overwhelmingly the favorite of the doughnut shop industry," Len Bell, president of Evergreen Packaging, explains in the video.
Evergreen Packaging manufactures 12-15 million donut boxes every year, and in an article written by David Pierson for the Los Angeles Times, Bell explains that the trend has spread so much so that Evergreen now sells the pink boxes to Arizona and Texas.
But, the article explains the pink box is a Southern California original, to the degree that consumers know what to expect when they see that signature color.
“I’m like one of Pavlov’s dogs when I see a pink box,” Sharon Vilsack, 29, told the LA Times. “My mouth starts watering because I know what’s inside.”
Why the Pink Box?
As the LA Times article explains, 200 pink boxes cost $20 wholesale, while their white counterparts cost $25.
“We doughnut makers were all about saving money,” Ngoy said in the article. “Why buy the more expensive white? Save a few pennies and make big bucks.”
However, the plain pink box with a simple logo or label may not be long for this world. In the Great Big Story video, Mayly Tao of DK's Donuts and Bakery, and the great niece of Ngoy, says that she recently changed her doughnut shop's box to reflect the brand. The LA Times report states that the rebranding led to positive results on social media, increasing the shop's number of Instagram followers to 79,000.
"When I took the business over from my parents, they were using the generic pink boxes that you see everywhere," Tao told Great Big Story, "but our donuts were not generic. And I needed to reflect that in our new, upgraded boxes."
And as the LA Times reports:
There are hints, though, that the pink box may soon be passé.
Evergreen is getting more orders from shops wanting boxes with graphics and logos. Store owners want to stand out and they understand the inherent branding opportunity of customized packaging.
Although the pink box may not be the symbol of the sugary pastry movement in Southern California forever, it's certainly proven to be a mark of the power of packaging.
Watch Great Big Story's video below: