Yen's son thinks it could have been his father, who may have been looking for a red box, which was a lucky color for the refugees.
The prevalence of the pink box appears to boil down to a cost-saving measure. Now, companies like Evergreen sell pink boxes to shops in Arizona and Texas. Widely recognized shops like Portland's Voodoo Doughnut and Minneapolis's Glam Doll Donuts use pink boxes as well. In fact, both of those bakeries don't just have pink boxes but use the color as an overall aesthetic in their shops.
"The Midwest tends to lean on the more muted color scale as far as design goes and we've always felt that color is a powerful marketing tool," Glam Doll Donuts co-owner Arwyn Birch tells Thrillist. "When Teresa [Fox] and I opened the doors almost 5 years ago at our Eat Street location, suddenly the streets were dotted with people carrying our pink boxes. Their color alone was an announcement of our presence in the Minneapolis food scene and has elevated itself to a sort of badge of honor."
It may have started as a cost-saving measure, but many shops keep it going because the box is all about advertising.
Evergreen notes there's increased demand for branded boxes with art, company logos, and social media marketing. That's the case for New York's The Doughnut Project, whose boxes feature the company logo. "It is one of the ways we advertise. When people bring doughnuts to the office or party, everyone can see where they got the delicious doughnuts," Leslie Polizzotto, co-owner of The Doughnut Project, tell Thrillist.
Even as companies opt for branding, for many doughnut lovers the pink box still induces a drooly Pavlovian response.