Still Hot, Still Now
The first batch of doughnuts takes about an hour to make from dough to box. Photo: Tanner Latham. On this day in 1937, a man named Vernon Rudolph began selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts in what was then Salem, North Carolina. 75 years later, those doughnuts are sold worldwide, with shops all over the U.S. and in 21 countries. But WFAE's Tanner Latham reports they're still just as popular close to home. Junior Legendre has been making Krispy Kreme doughnuts for 17 years. And as he explains the step-by-step process, it's all very mechanical and dry. And then he starts talking about the glazer. JL: "This is our glazer that glazes the doughnuts." TL: "It looks like a waterfall of glaze or something." JL: "Oh, yes, it's magic. It's like milk falling all the time." Junior Legendre is originally from Trinidad and Tobago, and he's been making doughnuts for 17 years. Photo: Tanner Latham So this stream of glaze-it's like a liquid sheet-coats the doughnuts as they sweep through on a conveyor belt. After 75 years, and many flavors and shapes of the Krispy Kreme doughnut, the original glazed is still the most popular. "I have yet to come across anything in the last 14 years that I've created that has surpassed that," says Ron Rupocinski, the company's corporate chef. His test kitchens are at the home office in Winston-Salem. As Krispy Kreme expands internationally, he gives final approval on culturally-specific flavors, such as green tea icing in Asia and citrus fillings in the Middle East. But he also develops doughnuts that are hyper-local, such as the successful Cheerwine doughnut from a couple of years ago. It had an effervescent, Cheerwine-flavored filling. And, the not-so-successful, Texas Pete doughnut, which used the Winston-Salem-based hot sauce. It didn't go over so well with the focus groups. "It just never made it out of the shoot," he says. "Just never pulled the trigger on it." Luckily, people never lost the taste for the original glazed, which remained constant even during the company's down years. After a rough patch in the mid-2000s, Krispy Kreme's recent financial reports are starting to look more promising. Never above a good gimmick, the company is looking to lure more customers this weekend with special birthday doughnuts piled with icing and cream. But the most effective marketing strategy is still its simplest. Pierre Martin was driving down Independence Boulevard here in Matthews when he saw the red neon "hot doughnuts now" sign. "Everybody in North Carolina at least knows that when Krispy Kreme has that light on, the doughnuts are fresh," says Martin. "And your car kinda takes a turn by itself."