By Kevin Farrell for USA TODAY 10Best

Why do local doughnut shops use pink boxes?

Sometimes the most iconic thing about our favorite foods is their container. You can practically taste the contents within the vessel long before ever taking a bite or sip.

It’s no different with bright pink doughnut boxes. But how did that pink box become synonymous with doughnuts? We'll have to go back a few decades to answer that.

The pink boxes in question are smaller and more cube-like, found in the '60s and '70s-inspired time capsules with neon window signs lit up with adjectives like "Tasty," "Best" and "World-Famous."

Shops – especially the ones jutting outwards like seismic waves from the epicenter of Southern California – have been angling neat stacks of nine doughnuts in pink boxes for generations.

To understand why, think back to the 1970s when thousands of Cambodians fled the oppressive Khmer Rouge regime. One such emigrant was Ted Ngoy, who opened his first donut shop in La Habra, California.

Ngoy grew wealthy off of his donut dominance, at one point owning several homes. But as he accumulated success after success, launching subsequent shops, he also racked up gambling debts.

At some point in the 1980s, one of Ngoy’s protégés asked their restaurant supplier Westco if they had any cheaper boxes available. They did: a large amount of pink-dyed cardboard stock.

Word of the cheaper, pink boxes spread quickly, first across the Cambodian doughnut shop network, and then much of the country. The pink boxes were soon even being used as far away as Minnesota.

Today, the pink box is threatened, though. The advent of superior screen printing technologies, plus a general interest in conservation, have put the basic brown box in demand.

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