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Publishers WeeklyIn the latest cultural-historical look at a beloved American foodstuff, anthropologist Mullins (Race and Affluence) offers a rather tangled explanation of the doughnut's origin, popularity and significance. Technically, the doughnut is probably Chinese in origin, though the Germans, French and Latin Americans also have valid claims; Mullins finds the 1669 Dutch recipe for "olie-koecken" most closely resembles today's beloved fried breakfast pastries. Mullins finds that for many immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, a jelly doughnut was the first food they tasted, permanently tying the pastry in new arrivals' minds to what it means to be American (though Canadians, who have a higher per capita rate of doughnut shops, may have a different opinion). Though occasionally subject to long-winded (largely pointless) academic digressions, Mullins' take on a much-maligned food is multifaceted and largely interesting. He introduces readers to the inventor of the doughnut hole, Captain Hanson Gregory, explores the traditional marriage of cops and doughnuts, looks at the brand loyalties of different demographics, and investigates the food's impact on public health with aplomb and curiosity. For those who can suffer the cravings, this makes a satisfying tour.
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