The mom-and-pop doughnut stores that dot California’s strip malls carry mostly the same mouth-watering doughy delights. But beyond the rows of glazed, chocolate and sprinkles lies a different kind of richness, in the stories of the Americans behind the counter.
Roughly 80% of doughnut shops in southern California – that’s well over a thousand – are owned by Cambodian refugee families. They arrived in America in the late 1970s and early ’80s seeking safety as the Communist Khmer Rouge committed genocide in Cambodia’s killing fields. Millions were executed or disappeared.
Many who escaped settled in California, and found work in doughnut shops.