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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10 Strange Publicity Stunts by Major Food Brands
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Celebrities have always loved doing crazy things for press—but these days, even corporations will go to extreme lengths to get the word out about their products. Case in point: IHOP's recent attempt to create a little mystery, and sell some burgers, as IHOb. Below you’ll find 10 of the weirdest stunts done to promote mass-produced food items.

1. COLONEL SANDERS RAPPELS DOWN A HIGH-RISE

It’s hard to imagine KFC’s elderly Colonel Sanders doing much outside of eating and talking about his “finger lickin’ good” fried chicken. But in 2011, a man dressed as the Colonel strapped on a harness and rappelled down Chicago’s River Bend building. The Colonel didn't stop at rappelling down the 40-story building; he also handed out $5 everyday meals to window washers. What was KFC’s concept behind this dangerous promotion? They wanted to show the world they were taking lunch to “new heights.”

2. THE WORLD'S LARGEST POPSICLE

Sometimes being the biggest doesn’t mean you’re the best. In 2005, Snapple wanted to make the world’s largest Popsicle to promote their new line of frozen treats. Their plan was to display a 25-foot-tall, 17.5-ton treat of frozen Snapple juice in New York City’s Union Square. However, their plan ended in a sticky disaster. The day Snapple tried to present the Popsicle, New York was experiencing warmer than expected temperatures. The pop melted so quickly that a river of sticky sludge took over several streets. In a city already congested by traffic and tourists, this made Snapple enemy No. 1 that day to the people of New York City.

3. COFFEE CUPS ON CAR ROOFS = FREE COUPONS

A cup of Starbucks coffee
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Starbucks believes in rewarding those who embrace the holiday spirit. In 2005, the Seattle-based coffee giant developed a campaign by which brand ambassadors drove around with replicas of Vente Starbucks cups affixed to their car roofs. If anyone stopped the ambassador to warn them about the coffee cup on their roof, that person received a $5 gift card to Starbucks. Starbucks wanted the world to know being a good samaritan really can pay!

4. MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE

Imagine walking the beach and finding a sealed bottle of Guinness. But instead of finding beer inside, you find a note from King Neptune, the Roman god of the sea. In 1959, that happened to people along North America’s Atlantic coast. Guinness wanted to build brand awareness in the area, so they dropped 150,000 sealed Guinness bottles into the ocean. The bottle contained Neptune’s scroll announcing the House of Guinness’s Bi-Centenary as well as a document instructing the reader on how to make a Guinness bottle into a table lamp. While no one got a free beer (boo!), they did walk away with an arts and crafts project.

5. EAU DE FLAME-BROILED

Who can resist the smell of flame-broiled burgers? The answer is most people—at least when it comes in the form of a body spray. Burger King’s 2008 campaign promoting the “scent of seduction” may be one of the weirdest ideas on this list. The fast-food company thought they could capture the world’s attention by creating and advertising a meat-scented cologne called FLAME by BK. Though select New York City stores actually sold the scent, all of this was a tongue-in-cheek campaign to make the 18- to 35-year-old male demographic laugh.

6. HERE COMES THE SUN

London commuters experienced an unexpectedly bright morning during January 2012. Tropicana worked with the art collective Greyworld to create a fake sun promoting their “Brighter Morning” campaign. The "sun," made up of more than 60,000 light bulbs, rose over Trafalgar Square at 6:51 a.m. on a particularly chilly morning. The sun set at 7:33 p.m. Tropicana continued to promote their sun day, fun day by having Londoners sit under the sun with branded sunglasses, deck chairs, and blankets. 

7. AIRPORT STEAK DELIVERY

Some of the craziest publicity stunts can’t be planned. We live in a world of 24/7 social media, and when the Twitterverse gave Morton’s Steakhouse an opportunity, they seized upon it. Before flying from Tampa to Newark, Peter Shankman, an entrepreneur and author, jokingly tweeted at Morton's Steakhouse that he wanted a porterhouse steak to be waiting for him when he landed. As Shankman was a frequent diner and social media influencer, Morton's Steakhouse saw the opportunity to start a conversation—and they went for it: When Shankman touched down in Newark, he was greeted by his car service driver and a Morton’s deliveryman. If only all travelers could experience that happiness in an airport.

8. BUYING THE LIBERTY BELL

April Fools Day gags can be great for brands … or an embarrassment. In 1996, Taco Bell took out an ad in The New York Times saying they bought Philadelphia's Liberty Bell. The ad also informed people of the bell’s new name: "Taco Liberty Bell." Back in the mid-1990s, people couldn’t go on Twitter or Facebook to find out the truth. Instead, they wrote the publication voicing their outrage. The hoax may have worked in getting press coverage (650 print publications and 400 broadcast media outlets publicized the joke), but what does that say about your brand when people actually believe you would rename a historic monument for your own gain?

9. CREATING THE LARGEST MAN-MADE FIRE


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In 2011, the Costa-Mesa based chain El Pollo Loco sent out press releases saying they planned to create the world’s largest man-made fire. Why would they create a fire? El Pollo Loco needed to get the word out about their new flame-grilled chicken. Spectators attending the event were shocked to see that this stunt was actually a commercial shoot for the brand. The chain says they really did attempt to break the record. But many publications have stated the whole promotion was a fraud. Note to brands: When trying to pull off a publicity stunt and a commercial simultaneously, tell everyone your plan in advance.

10. KFC IN SPACE

KFC may just be the king of wild publicity stunts. In 2006, the company created an 87,500-square-foot logo at Area 51 in Rachel, Nevada. The company wanted to be the first brand visible from space. And it was no coincidence they picked a spot near “The World’s Only Extraterrestrial Highway.”

“If there are extraterrestrials in outer space, KFC wants to become their restaurant of choice,” said Gregg Dedrick, former president of KFC Corp. The world is not enough for KFC. They need the entire universe hooked on their Original Recipe.

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Fizzled Out: Why Coca-Cola Purposely Designed a Soft Drink to Fail
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In December 1992, media outlets from around the country filed into the Hayden Planetarium at New York City's American Museum of Natural History for what soft drink giant Coca-Cola was trumpeting as a “truly out-of-this-world experience.” In front of reporters, the company's North American president, Doug Ivester, unveiled a 16-ounce silver can that he hoped would change the landscape of soda.

The product was Tab Clear, a new version of the sugar- and calorie-free diet drink first introduced in 1963. While it retained its bubbles, the liquid was transparent, an obvious nod to rival Pepsi’s introduction of Crystal Pepsi earlier that year.

Publicly, Ivester boasted that Tab Clear would be yet another success in Coca-Cola’s long history of refreshment dominance. But behind the scenes, Ivester and chief marketing officer Sergio Zyman were convinced Tab Clear would be a failure—and that is exactly what they hoped would happen. Flying in the face of convention, the launch of Tab Clear was deliberately designed to self-destruct.

 
 

In the early 1990s, beverage manufacturers were heavily preoccupied with the idea of clear drinks that communicated a sense of wellness. The Coors company even produced a clear alcoholic malt beverage, Zima, to capitalize on the craze, but porting it over to the soft drink market was nothing new. In the 1940s, Soviet leader Georgy Zhukov used his friendly relationship with the U.S. to make an appeal for Coca-Cola to produce a clear version of their drink so he could enjoy it surreptitiously and without being accused of indulging in a capitalist product; the soda maker removed the caramel from the recipe, which essentially de-pigmented it. Coca-Cola also produced Sprite, a fizzy, lemon-tinged drink that didn’t use coloring.

But it wasn’t until Pepsi unveiled Crystal Pepsi in 1992 that marketing departments began to pay close attention to transparency in their product. Crystal Pepsi was essentially a fruit-flavored variation of regular Pepsi, with all the typical amounts of sugar and calories but no caffeine. That light could pass through the beverage was a novelty, albeit one that Pepsi believed could help them carve out a 2 percent slice of the $48 billion soft drink market. And if Pepsi could do that, it would mean less money for Coca-Cola.

Like a boxer preparing a counter-attack, Coke couldn’t simply sit back and allow Pepsi to strike without retaliation. But few within the company were sold on the longevity of the clear soda craze. Worse, the company had stumbled badly with New Coke in 1985, a new formula intended to replace the classic version that drew public criticism and created a public relations disaster. Tempting fate with a Clear Coke was out of the question.

Zyman had the answer. Before coming to Coke, Zyman had been a director of sales and marketing for Pepsi; he defected to Coca-Cola just in time for the highly successful launch of Diet Coke in 1982. After a sabbatical, Zyman—a notoriously combative executive who earned the nickname the “Aya-Cola” for his management style—returned as chief marketing officer and devised an ingenious plan to stifle Crystal Pepsi without risking the reputation of Coca-Cola Classic. His sacrificial pawn would be Tab.

Sometimes stylized as “TaB," the drink had been introduced in 1963 as an alternative for calorie-conscious consumers. Sold in a pink can, it was targeted specifically at women concerned about their weight and marketed as a solution to increase sex appeal. Tab, ads claimed, could help consumers “be a shape he won’t forget … Tab can help you stay in his mind.”

With Diet Coke available to help keep marriages from crumbling, Tab was relegated to an afterthought, falling from 4 percent of Coke's overall market share to just 1 percent. Zyman believed it was expendable. If Tab Clear happened to catch on, fine. If it didn’t, the failure wouldn’t reflect poorly on the Coke brand.

But Zyman wasn’t content to simply try to compete with Crystal Pepsi. In his mind, Tab Clear was what consumer brands refer to as a “kamikaze effort,” a product expected to fail. Zyman believed that the presence of Tab Clear on shelves would confuse consumers into believing Crystal Pepsi was a diet drink. (It wasn’t, though there was a Diet Crystal Pepsi version available.) By blurring the lines and confusing consumers who wanted either a calorie-free drink or a full-bodied indulgence, Zyman expected Tab Clear to be a dud and bring Crystal Pepsi down right along with it.

“It was a suicidal mission from day one,” Zyman told author Stephen Denny for his 2011 business book, Killing Giants. “Pepsi spent an enormous amount of money on the [Crystal Pepsi] brand and, regardless, we killed it.”

 
 

With Pepsi set for a massive ad spend on the January 1993 Super Bowl, Coke rolled out Tab Clear in 10 cities, with national expansion coming mid-year. Their ad spending was minimal. Coca-Cola made just enough noise to reposition Crystal Pepsi from a hot, trendy new drink to a product with an identity crisis.

“They were going to basically say it was a mainstream drink,” Zyman said. "'This is like a cola, but it doesn’t have any color. It has all this great taste.' And we said, 'No, Crystal Pepsi is actually a diet drink.' Even though it wasn’t. Because Tab had the attributes of diet, which was its demise. That was its problem. It was perceived to be a medicinal drink. Within three to five months, Tab Clear was dead. And so was Crystal Pepsi.”

The dissolution of soda products on shelves is not inherently dramatic, and there was no visceral evidence on display that Tab Clear was flailing. But by the end of 1993, Zyman’s prediction had come true. Crystal Pepsi had grabbed just 0.5 percent of the market, a quarter of Pepsi's prediction. Both Tab Clear and Crystal Pepsi were phased out and Coke was happy to write the dual obituary. “Now both Tab Clear and Crystal Pepsi are about to die,” Coca-Cola chairman Roberto Goizueta told Ad Week in November 1993.

But it was Pepsi that had spent millions in development and $40 million in marketing; it took the company 18 months to formulate their failure. Coke spent just two months on Tab Clear. It was a barnacle that dragged its far more ambitious rival down with it.

Zyman continued to work for Coca-Cola through 1998. Clear products never caught on as some companies anticipated, though they do experience periodic revivals. Zima returned to shelves in 2017, and Crystal Pepsi has had promotional comebacks.

In one final twist, and despite Ivester's earlier declaration that Clear Coke would never see the light of day, the company’s Japanese arm released a zero-calorie Coca-Cola Clear in the country on June 11. This time, they might even want it to succeed.

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