Located at 48th Street and Broadway, a half block from the temporarily closed TKTS booth, the flagship Krispy Kreme doughnut shop is open for business and covid or no covid, it seems that people need their doughnuts. This was the second time I tried to get into the giant sweets factory; the first attempt was thwarted by a line which snaked more than halfway down the block, and New York has some awfully long blocks. I am not the type of person who tolerates waiting on lines if one doesn’t absolutely have to and the idea of spending a quarter of my day for a pumpkin spice and latte definitely fell into the category of “doesn’t absolutely have to”. So I went away and returned November 7th, the day President-elect Joe Biden was awarded Pennsylvania. Since people had other things on their mind that day the line was significantly smaller, although still more than you would expect for a place whose main item was just over two dollars. My wife Kelli was with me and she wanted to try it and the line seemed to be moving anyway, so I bit the bullet and ventured into the world that IS Krispy Kreme Flagship Store.
The story of Krispy Kreme began almost a hundred years ago. In 1933, a man by the name of Vernon Carver Rudolph bought a doughnut shop in Kentucky from a French chef from New Orleans. With it he received the rights to a secret yeast-raised doughnut recipe. He moved operations to Nashville, Tennessee, where other members of the family joined the business and opened shops in Charleston, West Virginia; and Atlanta, Georgia. At this time, the business focused on selling doughnuts to local grocery stores. During the early summer of 1937, Rudolph decided to leave Nashville to open his own doughnut shop. He landed in Winston-Salem, North Carolina with $25 in cash, a few pieces of doughnut-making equipment, the secret recipe, and the name Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. Having little money, Rudolph convinced a nearby grocer to lend him ingredients in return for payment once the first doughnuts were sold. On July 13, 1937, the first Krispy Kreme doughnuts were made and sold at the new Winston-Salem shop. Soon afterward, people began stopping by to ask if they could buy hot doughnuts. The demand was so great that Rudolph had to cut a hole in the wall and sell the doughnuts directly to customers. Fast forward a few decades and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, Inc. completed an initial public offering of common stock on April 5, 2000 on the NASDAQ under the stock symbol KREM. 13,800,000 shares were offered in the initial public offering at a price of $5.25 a share.
In September of 2020, with a pandemic still at the forefront of everyone’s minds, the Flagship Store opened in Times Square. It’s a huge behemoth of a building, selling everything from coffee to mugs to hats to T shirts to magnets to hot chocolate and souvenirs galore. Oh, and doughnuts. Lots of lots of doughnuts. They show them on the conveyor belt as they come out of the oven, and on their way to being glazed. Kids and adults press their noses up to the plexi glass, snapping pictures with their phones, fascinated by the process.
The employees are a cheerful lot (they must get free doughnuts as part of their pay) and everyone there takes great pains to make sure your stay is a pleasant one. The doughnuts are reasonably priced, especially given the location, although they do feature something called The Big Apple Doughnut which looked quite appealing but was priced at $10.99. I’ve never had a doughnut that cost eleven dollars and I suspect I never will. We’ll leave that for the tourists.
I’m not sure I would travel all the way to Times Square, New York for a Krispy Kreme doughnut but if you happen to be there anyway and you have a hankering for a doughnut and coffee….and the line is not halfway to Brooklyn….stop in and give yourself a treat. Right now, it’s a New York kind of thing to do.
All photos by T Sportiello