I took my Jeep in for an oil change recently and while I was there I noticed an old Caprice painted bright yellow and featuring the Waffle House name and slogans. It also had custom interior that included embroidered waffles on the back seats. The car belonged to a mechanic who let me take some pictures.
I emailed my brother and asked him to explain to me why in the world someone would paint their car this way. He’s one of the smartest, most informed people I’ve ever known, and I knew he’d have an answer, but he didn’t! So, I submitted a dozen or more search strings to Google and finally found my answer.
According to an article in a South Florida paper this past April, cars painted in bright colors and featuring favorite brands, particularly candy and cereal, are called donks, boxes or bubbles. They also feature powerful engines and flashy interiors. Nobody’s really sure where the names originate, but “donk” might be linked to the donkey-looking symbol on the Chevy Caprice. It’s a popular make and model for donk cars.
This genre within the custom car trend began in Florida in the 1990s and has spread to southern states, including Oklahoma. The first time I noticed one of these cars in Oklahoma City was a couple years ago at the intersection of Northwest 23rd and Classen Boulevard. I spotted a bright blue Cutlass Supreme that had Cap’n Crunch painted on the side. I’ve been looking for it ever since. I haven’t found it yet, but I have seen a lot of other donks including Cutlasses, Impalas, Crown Victorias and Caprices, etc.\
In some of my research, I came across a chat board that discussed the trend. Some of the posters, including one guy from Oklahoma, made some disturbing accusations:
“Where I’m from in Oklahoma, if you wear clothing or display on your vehicle the Pillsbury Dough Boy it means they sell cocaine or crack cocaine. If someone wears or displays Bugs Bunny, it means they sell marijuana and if they wear a shirt or display a snowman it means they just sell cocaine only, no crack. McDonalds means marijuana also and M&Ms mean they sell pills.”
I’m thinking this explanation is part urban legend, part phooey. One person responded that he drove a car with a Dunkin’ Donuts theme and just went to school and didn’t sell anything.
I take a lot of pictures of old cars while driving around the streets of Oklahoma City. In April, I snapped the picture (left) of this gorgeous light green car with gold wheels. I thought it was a great looking car!
I wonder how the donk, box and bubble car enthusiasts go about deciding what brand they’re going to feature. If you search “donk cars” on Google Images, you’ll see a wide variety of brands featured including Tide detergent, Skittles, Angry Birds, Pringles, Gatorade, Bubblicious, Sponge Bob, Cheetos, and as soon as I publish this post and Google crawls this site, Waffle House!
If you were going to feature a brand on a car what would you choose? Have you seen any donk cars where you live?