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11 Mouthwatering Facts About Krispy Kreme

Whether you sold Krispy Kremes as a kid to raise peewee team funds, waited (sort of) patiently for years until the chain hit your town, or have a habit of looking for the Hot Now sign to light up (now, there's an app for that!), there are still probably a few things about the almost 80-year-old company and its famous glazed doughnuts that you don’t know.

1. THE RECIPE FOR PERFECT KRISPY KREMES IS A FIERCELY GUARDED SECRET...

Though their baking methods are fair game, the top-secret recipe for Krispy Kreme doughnuts is kept in a vault in the company’s Winston-Salem, N.C. plant, which also manufactures "the same dry mix used in the 190 Krispy Kreme stores around the country," The Chicago Tribune reported in 2001.

Once a store has its stock of the special mix, doughnuts are prepared on-site using purified water and special yeast that’s from North Carolina, too. Then, "an air-pressurized extruder produces the perfect doughnut shape and gives the pastries a head start on puffiness," the doughnuts rise for half an hour, and finally they’re "fried in vegetable shortening on both sides before being covered in a warm sugar glaze."

Krispy Kreme takes this process quite seriously. In 2010, the company waged battle with the owners of a New York franchise location, charging them with baking treats from their own recipe and ingredients after Krispy Kreme had stopped its supplies, and with supplying the unofficial doughnuts to an "alleged 'rogue' operation" across the river in New Jersey.

2. ... AND WE MAY HAVE AN OHIO RIVER BARGE COOK TO THANK FOR IT.

According to the Duke Chronicle, Krispy Kreme founder Vernon Rudolph most likely got his prized recipe from Joseph G. LeBoeuf of Louisville, an Ohio River barge cook who "was famous for three things: his flapjacks, his coconut cakes, and his light and fluffy doughnuts." After Rudolph had joined his uncle Ishmael Armstrong in Paducah,, Kentucky and before Rudolph set up his first doughnut shop, the two "probably admired the recipe [...] and LeBoeuf would have been flattered to share it—no secret transactions involved."

As far as the Krispy Kreme family and historians can work out, the original recipe likely "consisted of a cream (the eponymous ‘Kreme’) of fluffed egg whites, mashed potatoes, sugar, shortening and skim milk that was chilled and mixed with flour and then fried and covered in glaze."

3. TODAY, YOU CAN BUY ONE IN QATAR (OR 1002 OTHER LOCATIONS).

Founded in 1937 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Krispy Kreme now has 1003 locations (including franchisee-owned ones) and operates in such countries as Bahrain, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Malaysia, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, the Republic of Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, the UK, and the United Arab Emirates—24 countries in total.

4. A NEW STORE’S OPENING CAN CAUSE A HUGE GLAZE RUSH.

If your town’s had Krispy Kreme stores around for a while, you might have forgotten what life was like without them, or just how crazy fans of the doughnuts can go when they finally arrive. When the first Las Vegas location opened in 1998, it sold 72,000 doughnuts the first day and 360,000 by the end of its first week, leading to some serious fan traffic. In the following years, many more lucky U.S. cities made the list of Krispy Kreme locations, and the title for “highest first-day sales” was passed around.

However, the people of Perth, Australia most recently took the honor for themselves, raising the first-day bar right over 73,000. On November 26, 2014, the Krispy Kreme fans of Perth "won the illustrious world record for most doughnuts purchased on the first day of Krispy Kreme trade, replacing the city’s unofficial world record for most Krispy Kremes smuggled on to a Jetstar flight," Australia’s The Sunday Times wrote. Between its 9:30 a.m. opening time and midnight closing, the store moved a full 73,200 doughnuts.

5. CELEBRITIES GO CRAZY FOR THEM, TOO (INCLUDING PRESIDENT OBAMA).

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In 2012, President Barack Obama and his crew were spotted casually visiting a Krispy Kreme location in Tampa, Florida. The president strolled in, picked up three dozen doughnuts to share with a nearby firehouse team, chatted with workers and customers, and bought a little boy some powdered doughnuts.

And President Obama is just one high-profile fan of the chain; lots of other famous faces, including Elvis Presley, have been caught tucking into their doughnuts over the years.

6. THE KRISPY KREME BUSINESS BOOK READS … WELL, A LOT LIKE FAN FIC.

The book Making Dough: The 12 Secret Ingredients of Krispy Kreme’s Sweet Success gives some insight, perhaps, as to why some fans of the chain are so very passionate about its doughnuts.

Despite all of the other sensory pleasures, the climax of the Krispy Kreme experience doesn’t come until you get that hot doughnut in your mouth. … Is a Krispy Kreme like sugar-encrusted air? … Fifty-nine cents of pure pleasure? … Unbridled ecstasy? … Some people devour the hot treat and moan as the last bite slips down the throat. … Some let the powerfully tasty doughnut possess them; their heads loll and their eyes roll at the taste. Others have even cried in joy at the taste, tearing up like a happy bride and groom on their wedding day.

Of course, there’s actual fan fic about Krispy Kreme, too. Those who’d rather eat the treats than read or write about them can become "Friends of Krispy Kreme" in the UK (and get a free doughnut for it), and there’s a U.S. fan club that sends out promos.

7. A "DOUBLE HUNDRED DOZEN" BOX MIGHT MAKE YOU POPULAR AT THE OFFICE ...

Bring in Krispy Kreme's "Double Hundred Dozen" box to your morning meeting and you’ll wind up with 2400 Original Glazed and, most likely, some very happy coworkers (though they might need naps later in the day).

8. ... BUT IT WON’T BREAK THE WORLD RECORD OF 2700 IN ONE BOX.

The standing Guinness World Record for largest box of doughnuts is the Krispy Kreme box created by The Kuwait Food Co. Americana in 2009. The enormous cardboard box, an exact replica of a normal-sized one (including specially made labels), was around 19’ x 13’ x 3’, weighed almost 300 pounds, and contained 2700 Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

9. KRISPY KREME WEDDING CAKES HAVE BEEN ALL THE RAGE FOR AT LEAST A DECADE.

If nothing will do on your special day but a tower of doughnuts, you’re in luck: various locations, including those managed by Krispy Kreme UK, offer customized corporate spreads and ones designed for weddings, too, including cake-like doughnut towers and individual boxes bearing the happy couple’s names.

In 2004, one Washington couple tried to set the world record for tallest doughnut cake at their wedding, and reportedly submitted the 5'3" results to Guinness (no word on whether or not Guinness decided to create the category, or if a doughnut-based bribe was involved).

10. THERE WERE ALMOST DOUGHNUT SMOOTHIES AND MILKSHAKES.

In 2004, Krispy Kreme briefly offered a doughnut smoothie, which one journalist described as offering an experience "similar to that of an 8-year-old who’s found the box of C&H brown sugar while his parents were gone," or to squeezing a tube of frozen cake frosting "directly down your throat." In 2011, deathandtaxes reported that the company tested out doughnut shakes in Original Glazed, Chocolate Cake and Raspberry Filled flavors in five North Carolina stores. Unfortunately, it looks like neither idea caught on nationally.

11. THE COMPANY HAS PAID TRIBUTE TO PIRATES AND THE ORIGINAL GHOSTBUSTERS.

To celebrate Ghostbusters's 30th anniversary, stores sold marshmallow Kreme-filled doughnuts sporting the film’s "splat" logo and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man’s mug. And on September 19, a.k.a. Talk Like a Pirate Day, spouting some pirate-isms to a Krispy Kreme employee will earn booty in the form of one free doughnut.

A version of this story ran in 2015.

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A.C. Gilbert, the Toymaker Who (Actually) Saved Christmas 
Travel Salem via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Travel Salem via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Alfred Carlton Gilbert was told he had 15 minutes to convince the United States government not to cancel Christmas.

For hours, he paced the outer hall, awaiting his turn before the Council of National Defense. With him were the tools of his trade: toy submarines, air rifles, and colorful picture books. As government personnel walked by, Gilbert, bashful about his cache of kid things, tried hiding them behind a leather satchel.

Finally, his name was called. It was 1918, the U.S. was embroiled in World War I, and the Council had made an open issue about their deliberation over whether to halt all production of toys indefinitely, turning factories into ammunition centers and even discouraging giving or receiving gifts that holiday season. Instead of toys, they argued, citizens should be spending money on war bonds. Playthings had become inconsequential.

Frantic toymakers persuaded Gilbert, founder of the A.C. Gilbert Company and creator of the popular Erector construction sets, to speak on their behalf. Toys in hand, he faced his own personal firing squad of military generals, policy advisors, and the Secretary of War.

Gilbert held up an air rifle and began to talk. What he’d say next would determine the fate of the entire toy industry.

Even if he had never had to testify on behalf of Christmas toys, A.C. Gilbert would still be remembered for living a remarkable life. Born in Oregon in 1884, Gilbert excelled at athletics, once holding the world record for consecutive chin-ups (39) and earning an Olympic gold medal in the pole vault during the 1908 Games. In 1909, he graduated from Yale School of Medicine with designs on remaining in sports as a health advisor.

But medicine wasn’t where Gilbert found his passion. A lifelong performer of magic, he set his sights on opening a business selling illusionist kits. The Mysto Manufacturing Company didn’t last long, but it proved to Gilbert that he had what it took to own and operate a small shingle. In 1916, three years after introducing the Erector sets, he renamed Mysto the A.C. Gilbert Company.

Erector was a big hit in the burgeoning American toy market, which had typically been fueled by imported toys from Germany. Kids could take the steel beams and make scaffolding, bridges, and other small-development projects. With the toy flying off shelves, Gilbert’s factory in New Haven, Connecticut grew so prosperous that he could afford to offer his employees benefits that were uncommon at the time, like maternity leave and partial medical insurance.

Gilbert’s reputation for being fair and level-headed led the growing toy industry to elect him their president for the newly created Toy Manufacturers of America, an assignment he readily accepted. But almost immediately, his position became something other than ceremonial: His peers began to grow concerned about the country’s involvement in the war and the growing belief that toys were a dispensable effort.

President Woodrow Wilson had appointed a Council of National Defense to debate these kinds of matters. The men were so preoccupied with the consequences of the U.S. marching into a European conflict that something as trivial as a pull-string toy or chemistry set seemed almost insulting to contemplate. Several toy companies agreed to convert to munitions factories, as did Gilbert. But when the Council began discussing a blanket prohibition on toymaking and even gift-giving, Gilbert was given an opportunity to defend his industry.

Before Gilbert was allowed into the Council’s chambers, a Naval guard inspected each toy for any sign of sabotage. Satisfied, he allowed Gilbert in. Among the officials sitting opposite him were Secretary of War Newton Baker and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.

“The greatest influences in the life of a boy are his toys,” Gilbert said. “Yet through the toys American manufacturers are turning out, he gets both fun and an education. The American boy is a genuine boy and wants genuine toys."

He drew an air rifle, showing the committee members how a child wielding less-than-lethal weapons could make for a better marksman when he was old enough to become a soldier. He insisted construction toys—like the A.C. Gilbert Erector Set—fostered creative thinking. He told the men that toys provided a valuable escape from the horror stories coming out of combat.

Armed with play objects, a boy’s life could be directed toward “construction, not destruction,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert then laid out his toys for the board to examine. Secretary Daniels grew absorbed with a toy submarine, marveling at the detail and asking Gilbert if it could be bought anywhere in the country. Other officials examined children’s books; one began pushing a train around the table.

The word didn’t come immediately, but the expressions on the faces of the officials told the story: Gilbert had won them over. There would be no toy or gift embargo that year.

Naturally, Gilbert still devoted his work floors to the production efforts for both the first and second world wars. By the 1950s, the A.C. Gilbert Company was dominating the toy business with products that demanded kids be engaged and attentive. Notoriously, he issued a U-238 Atomic Energy Lab, which came complete with four types of uranium ore. “Completely safe and harmless!” the box promised. A Geiger counter was included. At $50 each, Gilbert lost money on it, though his decision to produce it would earn him a certain infamy in toy circles.

“It was not suitable for the same age groups as our simpler chemistry and microscope sets, for instance,” he once said, “and you could not manufacture such a thing as a beginner’s atomic energy lab.”

Gilbert’s company reached an astounding $20 million in sales in 1953. By the mid-1960s, just a few years after Gilbert's death in 1961, it was gone, driven out of business by the apathy of new investors. No one, it seemed, had quite the same passion for play as Gilbert, who had spent over half a century providing fun and educational fare that kids were ecstatic to see under their trees.

When news of the Council’s 1918 decision reached the media, The Boston Globe's front page copy summed up Gilbert’s contribution perfectly: “The Man Who Saved Christmas.”

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Ho, No: Christmas Trees Will Be Expensive and Scarce This Year
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The annual tradition of picking out the healthiest, densest, biggest tree that you can tie to your car’s roof and stuff in your living room won’t be quite the same this year. According to The New York Times, Christmas trees will be scarce in some parts of the country and markedly more expensive overall.

The reason? Not Krampus, Belsnickel, or Scrooge, but something even more miserly: the American economy. The current situation has roots in 2008, when families were buying fewer trees due to the recession. Because more trees stayed in the ground, tree farms planted fewer seeds that year. And since firs grow in cycles of 8 to 10 years, we’re now arriving at a point where that diminished supply is beginning to impact the tree industry.

New York Times reporter Tiffany Hsu reports that 2017’s healthier holiday spending habits are set to drive up the price of trees as consumers vie for the choicest cuts on the market. In 2008, trees were just under $40 on average. Now, they’re $75 or more.

This doesn’t mean you can’t get a nice tree at a decent price—just that some farms will run out of prime selections more quickly and you might have to settle for something a little less impressive than in years past. Tree industry experts also caution that the shortages could last through 2025.

[h/t New York Times]

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