documentaries, imagine
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The Donut King (2020)

The Donut King – a documentary telling the story of Ted Ngoy who immigrated from Cambodia, started a west coast empire of donut stores… and lost it all. This is a story of fate, love, survival, hard knocks, and redemption.

Directed by Alice Gu

Film Review

by Nick Allen /

If you’ve ever enjoyed a donut that came from a pink box, you have Cambodian refugee Ted Ngoy to thank. The same goes for if you’ve been to California and tasted a donut from one of the many shops owned by many other Cambodian refugees like Ngoy, who have proven over time to be a top competitor with the likes of Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks. 

The incredible story of Ngoy—with its hard-won ascendance and tragic collapse—is captured in “The Donut King,” a heartwarming albeit scattered documentary from director Alice Gu. With its balance of poppy visuals and detailed history, about both war-torn Cambodia and about the business of donuts, the documentary lovingly profiles Ngoy’s life, and the countless other donut shop entrepreneurs like him. 

By the mid 1970s, Ngoy had arrived in California with his family, having escaped the violence in a war-torn Cambodia. By chance he learned of the irresistible smell and taste of a fresh donut, but by his incredible hard work he was soon able to learn the business and open up his own shop, one that appealed to a growing market. Within years, he had multiple shops and had achieved financial success, while constantly working alongside his family who shared his sense of sacrifice. Ngoy had some brilliant ideas that changed the donut industry (like using pink boxes instead of white ones, originally to save money), and within a few years, he became a millionaire.

Read more, here.

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