Once It Hits Your Lips, It’s So good

I like doughnuts. I like them better than cupcakes and most other desserts, because doughnuts are fried and have that savory bit about them. They’re one of the sweets I can eat a lot of, and I do when I go to the doughnut shop at 8pm and the guy gives me 6 extra for free. Chocolate iced? Forget it. They’re my dessert kryptonite.

So when Krispy Kreme contacted ES and asked if one of us wanted to go to their first-ever Blogger Summit, I jumped on it. To be honest, I was really reserved at first. I’ve never been a Krispy Kreme fanatic, and I felt like I was walking into the McDonald’s of the dessert world — could these doughnuts really compare to my beloved local doughnut shop? Did it matter? Could I like them knowing they’re mass produced from a mix? I knew I wouldn’t see anyone making batter by hand, but I tried to keep an open mind as I departed for the Krispy Kreme Factory Tour  in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Turns out there weren’t any oompa-loompas. Mostly, it was just a big factory with a lot of pallets of ingredients and bags of mix that they produce to send out to the stores. I think I saw shelf stable egg yolk. I’m not sure. Much of the tour resembled my college chem lab rather than any food-serving establishment. We weren’t allowed to take pictures in many parts of the factory…to preserve integrity, and I guess also for liability purposes. Nobody needs pictures of me falling into the glaze river.

The theme of the tour was consistency; every doughnut needs to taste exactly the same. In the lab, they test every batch of dry mix that goes out. After a few hours at the factory, I was feeling discouraged and over the whole “factory farmed doughnut” thing. But then I ate a doughnut fresh off the line. It was still warm with glaze, and I decided that maybe I’d give this company a chance.

The Krispy Kreme story is an inspiring one. It’s not about how the company was founded or what is behind it; it’s about what it does for people and families. Sometimes the food IS about the food. But most of the time, the joy of eating comes from the people you’re sharing it with. And at Krispy Kreme, I quickly learned that’s what it’s all about.

Yes, the doughnuts are good. They’re really good. Especially when they’re hot off the line. But the Krispy Kreme folks are extraordinary, and work every day to bring an extraordinary experience to their customers. Throughout the duration of the summit, they weren’t just smiling and being nice because they wanted me to blog about them, either. It’s really easy to tell when people are being nice to you because they have to or should, and when people are being nice because they have warm hearts.

The spirit didn’t just live inside Krispy Kreme HQ, either. Winston-Salem seems to be infected with this friendly Krispy Kreme fever. The first night at the summit, it was really fucking hot in my room. I mean, like 78 degrees and no matter how many times I turned the thermostat down to 64, it wouldn’t get colder. I called the front desk and they sent an engineer up. The man who showed up at my door was a charming individual. He asked if I just got in, how I liked the town, etc… When I told him I was there visiting Krispy Kreme, he couldn’t say enough about the doughnuts. But it wasn’t really the doughnuts. The smile on his face and the tone of his voice as he reminisced about eating Krispy Kreme as a child in the 1960s were more than just results of a good doughnut. It was about going every week with his family and getting the doughnuts together.

There were similar stories all around from everyone I came in contact with. Krispy Kreme CEO Jim Morgan (a very skinny man, mind you, who stressed that doughnuts are a treat, not an everyday staple) told an inspiring story about a woman from his church, whose sister had recently passed away and requested a Krispy Kreme doughnut each of the two days following her death. She hadn’t spoken in days, but each day she whispered “Krispy.” Two Krispy Kreme doughnuts were the last words she spoke and the last foods she ate before she died. I was skeptical of the story. I thought is the taste of a Krispy Kreme doguhnut really something people want on their deathbed? No sooner had I thought it did Jim say “it wasn’t about the doughnut” and assured us it was instead about the memories. The last thing this woman wanted wasn’t the sugary taste of a doughnut, but to be reminded of her younger days eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts with her family.

It’d be really easy to call bullshit on this story. I’m sure many of you will, and you don’t have to tell me that bad companies can still have inspiring stories. I know it’s true, but I really didn’t smell bullshit here. And you know what? I’ll probably never go to Krispy Kreme just because I want a hot doughnut. I don’t have the connection that other people do, since I grew up in the Northern U.S. and don’t have those childhood memories. It’s probably why Krispy Kreme has had trouble penetrating this market. But now when I walk by the Krispy Kreme in Philadelphia I do stop when the “hot” light is on, to eat a warm doughnut and be reminded of the wonderful experience I had while I visited Winston-Salem. There are a lot of assholes in the world, but you won’t find them at Krispy Kreme.


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One comment

  • Nancy C February 7, 2012  

    Krispy Kreme’s a local favorite here in central Ohio – always has been, always will be. And it’s always been a treat – the scent of a Krispy Kreme store is as incredible & forever-etched in my memory as the wonderful deliciousness of a bite of a KK donut. As their neighborhood stores here disappeared, you could hear the signs of relief when grocery stores began carrying their freshly-baked donuts! Not having access to Krispy Kreme donuts is akin to not having access to White Castle’s sliders – heresy!

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