The name comes from the name of the recipe bought by Vernon Rudolph from a French chef in New Orleans. It must have been a language mistake since the donuts are neither Crispy nor Creamy.

Rudolph started selling donuts to local grocery stores on July 13th, 1937*. Customers kept asking him for hot donuts so he cut a hole in the wall and started selling his Hot Original Glazed direct.

By 2002, Krispy Kreme had 292** stores and did 492** million in sales. This is relatively small since Dunkin Donuts has 3,600 stores in the US alone and Canadian donut giant, Tim Hortons, has 2,200 in its native country.

It is not the biggest chain, but size doesn’t matter to Krispy Kreme’s fans. They camp outside the stores at their openings, bringing their sleeping bags and TVs along with them. They line up 50-cars-long outside the drive-throughs. In a world that has become so health-conscious that McDonalds is selling salads, amazingly, Krispy Kreme has made deep-fried cake dipped in icing a success.

Krispy Kreme enjoyed steady growth until Rudolph died in 1973. The company was then reorganized and sold to Beatrice Foods in 1976. It suffered under Beatrice, who tried to sell the donuts to grocery stores, diverting from the thing that everyone loves about Krispy Kreme – hot fresh donuts. By 1982, a group of franchisees bought the company back from Beatrice with a renewed focus on the “Fresh Donuts Now” experience.

With their artefacts in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, they have earned their place as a 20th Century American Icon. They have done it all with no marketing. Krispy Kreme spends almost nothing on advertising. No TV commercials. No print ads. No billboards. Why? It is just too easy to give away free donuts. Every time they open a store in a new city, they send free donuts to the media so DJs and TV personalities rave about the donuts for free. Their popular store openings also get a lot of free press-coverage. The warm-sweet-sticky taste sells itself.

Krispy Kreme now operates in 37 States, Canada and Australia. In some cities they are ubiquitous - sold not only hot and fresh, but in gas stations and grocery stores. It is a phenomenon that investors and analysts alike believe will grow as quickly as the North American Backside. A final point to remember about Krispy Kreme: One Hot Original Glazed Doughnut packs 210 calories, 12 grams of fat (four of them saturated), 13 grams of sugar, and no fibre.

* 08/08/2003
**The Hole Story, Andy Serwer, Fortune, 06/23/2003