The Donut: A Canadian History by Steve PenfoldThe Donut: A Canadian History by Steve Penfold

The Donut: A Canadian History

bySteve Penfold

Paperback | January 12, 2008

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In Canada, the donut is often thought of as the unofficial national food. Donuts are sold at every intersection and rest stop, celebrated in song and story as symbols of Canadian identity, and one chain in particular, Tim Horton's, has become a veritable icon with over 2500 shops across the country. But there is more to the donut than these and other expressions of 'snackfood patriotism' would suggest. In this study, Steve Penfold puts the humble donut in its historical context, examining how one deep-fried confectionary became, not only a mass commodity, but an edible symbol of Canadianness.

Penfold examines the history of the donut in light of broader social, economic, and cultural issues, and uses the donut as a window onto key developments in twentieth-century Canada such as the growth of a 'consumer society,' the relationship between big business and community, and the ironic qualities of Canadian national identity. He goes on to explore the social and political conditions that facilitated the rapid rise and steady growth of donut shops across the country.

Based on a wide range of sources, from commercial and government reports to personal interviews, The Donut is a comprehensive and fascinating look at one of Canada's most popular products. It offers original insights on consumer culture, mass consumption, and the dynamics of Canadian history.

Steve Penfold is an associate professor in the Department of History at the University of Toronto. He is the author of The Donut: A Canadian History (UTP 2008).
Title:The Donut: A Canadian HistoryFormat:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 9 × 5.9 × 0.8 inPublished:January 12, 2008Publisher:University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing DivisionLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0802095453

ISBN - 13:9780802095459

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting history of a popular food item I got this book because it was assigned reading for a university course I took in summer school about the history of food in the Americas. It ended up being a really interesting look at the history of donut shops in Canada – particularly Tim Horton’s later on. Steve Penfold links this popular fried dough treat to many different facets of Canadian society such as mass production, consumerism, and national/cultural identity. A very unique and insightful read!
Date published: 2017-10-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from So much more than Tim Horton's The Donut is definitely an interesting look at the cultural history of Canada and how studying the donut -- a seemingly banal product -- can be used to explain larger trends in consumer culture. A bit mundane at times, but anyone who loves coffee and donuts (who doesn't?) will find some value in this book.
Date published: 2010-03-19

Table of Contents

Introduction: History from the Bottomless Cup

  1. Faith, Efficiency, and the Modern Donut:
    Inventing a Mass Commodity, 1920–1960
  2. ‘Our New Palace of Donut Pleasure’:
    The Donut Shop and Consumer Culture, 1961–1976
  3. ‘He Must Give Up Certain Things’:
    Franchising and the Making of the Donut Shop, 1960–1980
  4. Expansion and Transformation:
    Colonizing the Canadian Foodscape, 1974–1999
  5. Eddie Shack Was No Tim Horton:
    Donuts and the Folklore of Mass Culture in Canada, 1974–1999
Conclusion: Commodity and Culture in Postwar Canada

Editorial Reviews

A fascinating history of Canada's favourite treat.

-Araminta Wordsworth