Krispy Kreme

There are two subjects that I write about that are not directly related to UNC, BBQ and Hot dogs. I'm about to add a third, Krispy Kreme.

Me and KK go way back. You see, I lived across the street from the second Krispy Kreme ever In Raleigh between 1938 and 1941. It was a love affair from the outset. KK bought out a little doughnut shop on Pace St. which is about two blocks from their current location. There was nothing unusual about the doughnuts at the Golden Crisp doughnut shop, but we were all filled with trepidation when we heard they had sold out because we didn't know what would replace them. When we tasted our first KK, we knew we had hit the jackpot. The same feeling a person feels today when they taste one for the first time. I've tasted doughnuts that were similar in taste to a KK but never one that tasted exactly like them. Maybe that's because the recipe for KK is a secret and not even the people who work in the KK shops know what the recipe is. It's mixed in Winston-Salem and shipped to the shops where the doughnuts are actually cooked.

Maybe a little history is in order. KK originated in Paducah, Kentucky in 1933 when Vernon Rudolph bought the recipe from a French Chef from New Orleans. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Rudolph and his partner decided they needed a larger market, so they moved to Nashville, Tenn. and opened shops in Atlanta, Georgia and Charleston, West Virginia.

In the summer of 1937, Mr. Rudolph decided to leave Nashville and open up his own doughnut shop. He took with him two young men, a 1936 Pontiac, $200 and the name Krispy Kreme.

After looking at several possible locations, Mr. Rudolph settled in Winston-Salem, N.C. and used his last $25 to rent a building across from Salem College in what is now called the Historic Old Salem district. He convinced a local grocer to sell him the ingredients for the first doughnuts on "time" and on July 16, 1937 produced the first Krispy Kreme doughnut from his new location.

Originally, KK's were to be delivered only to local stores and were not available at the doughnut shop itself, but that soon changed. Mr. Rudolph cut a hole in the wall of the shop and began to sell to a demanding public. He took the back seat out of the '36 Pontiac and installed shelves to be used in making local store deliveries.

For years, KK's were a Southern thing but no more. They've gone national and many think they will be international within the next few years. To give some idea of how KK has expanded, look at the following list of current locations:

State Locations

Alabama-9   

Arizona-3   

California-13   

Delaware-2   

Florida-20   

Georgia-16

Illinois-7   

Indiana-3   

Iowa-2   

Kansas-2   

Kentucky-2   

Louisiana-2

Maryland-4   

Michigan-4   

Mississippi-2   

Missouri-5   

Nebraska-2   

Nevada-5

New York-8   

North Carolina-16   

Ohio-11   

Pennsylvania-1   

South Carolina-12   

Tennessee-10

Texas-7   

Utah-1   

Virginia-8   

West Virginia-1

Addresses of the locations appear on KK's web site and it's interesting to note where the shops are located. I'm still fuming because Charlottesville has two locations and we only have one here in Richmond, a city much larger than the home of the Hoos. We Richmonders went through withdrawal pains late last year when they completely closed the operation here in Richmond and demolished the building. For about 4 months, we had to settle for doughnuts shipped in from other locations and it just wasn't the same. The new shop is open now and it is nice. The old shop could seat 11 people at a counter. The new one can seat 44 at tables, has a drive through and is open 24 hours a day. KK lent their employees to local charities during the time the new shop was being constructed so experienced employees would be available when they reopened. Nice touch in this age of bottom line results.

I had heard there was a traffic jam at the new shop on the day it opened so, I delayed my first visit for about a week. When I got there, there was still a traffic jam and they had policemen stationed both inside and outside. The President of KK who is a UNC grad (Livengood, I think is his name ) was interviewed on the radio during the grand opening and he said that every time a new shop opened in California, they had to have police to direct the traffic. There were accounts of people driving as far as 200 miles to get the doughnuts and one gentleman stood in line almost all night when one of the shops opened in Las Vegas and burst into tears when he bit into his first one. There had to be a story there, but nobody questioned him why he was so emotional.

There have been several "placement" ads on primetime television shows and one anchor man sent a reporter out to sample the doughnuts in New York City. When she returned and was being interviewed on the anchor's show, she was asked what the doughnuts tasted like and she replied, "It's sort of like an orgasmic experience". I don't think the anchor was prepared for this response and quickly diverted the conversation in a different direcion.

Two of the most famous fans of KK are Bill Clinton and "Shaq" O'Neil.

Last year KK went public for the first time on the NASDAQ and the IPO opened at $21. Over the next few weeks, the price steadily climbed until, at one point, it was above $100 per share. I checked yesterday and the current price is around $6l. I tried to get some shares at the IPO price, but they were not available through my broker. They had all been spoken for by favored brokerage houses and had to be rationed among those who wanted the shares at the IPO price.

I wrote about KK on another board before I got this site and everyone seemed to have a favorite KK story. One viewer accused me of "pushing" KK stock but I think he was kidding.

My favorite KK story is about a friend of ours who moved from Richmond to South Carolina and returned to Richmond for Christmas. Upon arriving in Richmond, they went to the Krispy Kreme shop and had a few before they let anyone know they were in town. The mother said the two teenagers who were with her talked about KK all the way from S.C. to Richmond.

I suggested that someone open a shop in Chapel Hill and put Carolina Blue icing on the doughnuts. Think they wouldn't sell on Franklin St, at the Dean Dome and at Kenan. Could even sell them on the sidewalk downtown if they could get the city father's to agree.

In closing, let me say that it still burns me that Charlottesville has two shops and Chapel Hill has none. These gems belong to North Carolina and I wish some enterprising Tar Heel would step up to the plate. There will always be a market for KK's and believe it or not, I am not on their payroll.

Thank you Mr. Rudolph.

RamFanatic