A Drive Through the Kitsch-tastic Donut Hole

 

When it comes to architecture I’m of course a sucker for a good mid-century modern, art deco, and even Victorian, but perhaps my favorite style is programmatic architecture, aka “California Crazy” because it’s just plain fun! There are other terms for this style as well, including vernacular and mimetic architecture. This is where a building resembles an object, often one relating to the what the business sells or is called. The most famous example would be Hollywood’s Brown Derby, which sadly no longer exists, well, sort of…for more on that check out this post. Another amazing example is the shoe repair we visited in Bakersfield. Another great example is also one of my absolute favorites, the Donut Hole in La Puente. Here two massive donuts flank a small drive thru where you can purchase, what else, donuts!

Angled view of The Donut Hole, a massive brown donut rises from the ground, with an opening for cars to drive through. White text across the top reads "The Donut Hole 'It's the Quality!'"

Close-up of the text above the opening, reading "The Donut Hole 'It's the Quality'" the opening to drive through is below.

Angled view of The Donut Hole, a massive brown donut rises from the ground, with an opening for cars to drive through. White text across the top reads "The Donut Hole 'It's the Quality!'"

Looking into the Donut Hole, with cars in front.

A variety of windows inside The Donut Hole for customers to order, see the donuts available, and pay.

Behind a window are racks of various donuts. Above a menu board features the variety of items available.

Angled view of The Donut Hole, a massive brown donut rises from the ground, with an opening for cars to drive through. White text across the top reads "The Donut Hole 'It's the Quality!'" To the right you can see the middle portion which is painted white and connects with the other donut.

The white kitchen that connects the two large donuts, with black text that reads "Drive thru the Donut Hole...Coffee & Donuts"

Holding up a chocolate donut so it just covers up the drive-thru hole of The Donut Hole.

Close-up of the text above the opening, reading "The Donut Hole 'It's the Quality'"

Myself, holding a chocolate donut, standing in front of The Donut Hole.

Programmatic architecture started in the 1920s when cars were becoming more popular, and having novelty shaped buildings were a great way to catch the eye of motorists who were speeding by. While programmatic architecture is of course a product of car culture, I think the Donut Hole is the best combination of the programmatic architectural style and car culture, as one doesn’t even have to get out of their car to enjoy the item being offered! While a late example of programmatic architecture, as it was built in 1968, The Donut Hole is just as charming as anything built before it!

Originally there were five Donut Hole locations, but this was the only one to incorporate donuts into the actual architecture of the structure, it also happens to be the only remaining Donut Hole location. The giant donuts are made of fiberglass, and if you’re looking for the genius to thank for this gem of California, I’m sorry to disappoint, but the designer is unknown. While I don’t know who to thank for this icon, I’m just thrilled it is still standing and has continuously operated as a donut shop, catering to the drivers of the greater Los Angeles area.

Drive through two massive donuts at the Donut Hole at 15300 Amar Road in La Puente.

Source
The Donut Hole” Los Angeles Conservancy.

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