Uniquely Carolinian: Krispy Kreme

With more than 1,000 locations all over the world, you may not know that Krispy Kreme started right here in North Carolina in 1937. Krispy Kreme founder Vernon Rudolph purchased a secret yeast-raised recipe from a French chef in New Orleans and began selling doughnuts to local grocery stores in Winston-Salem.


At the age of 18, Rudolph worked for his uncle, Ishmael Armstrong, who owned a general store in Kentucky. The store sold a variety of goods, including light and fluffy glazed doughnuts. Ishmael Armstrong may have gotten his doughnut recipe from Joseph LeBeouf, an Ohio River barge cook who was famous for his doughnuts. Business at the store slowed during the Great Depression, so Rudolph and Armstrong moved to Nashville, Tennessee looking for better business opportunities. The pair decided to focus on selling doughnuts and were so successful in doing so that Rudolph left Nashville in 1937 to open his own store. "The Krispy Kreme Doughnut Company" was born. 


The first store was located on Main Street in Winston-Salem in what is now historic Old Salem. Initially, Rudolph sold doughnuts to convenience and grocery stores, but also sold hot doughnuts to individual customers during production between midnight and 4 am. Passersby asked for hot doughnuts so often that Rudolph eventually cut a hole in an outside wall so he could sell his hot pastries directly to customers on the street. 


During the 1950s, the company added new doughnut varieties to the iconic Krispy Kreme display case, but the original hot glazed sweet roll remained the centerpiece of the business. During the early 1960s, doughnut production became automated, prompting significant growth in the Southeast and beyond. When Vernon Rudolph passed away in 1973, he left behind a large chain of 60 shops. 


While continuing to grow and evolve its business, Krispy Kreme held onto its original tradition of "Hot Doughnuts Now." 1989 brought the opening of the first retail-only doughnut store on High Point Road in Greensboro. By the early 1990s, Krispy Kreme introduced the "Hot Doughnuts Now"  light, which lit up only when the pastries were hot and fresh. New shaped doughnuts like the favorite heart doughnut were introduced in 2000, placing a new spin on old favorites. 


In 2011, Krispy Kreme announced the launch of its new signature coffee blends at various U.S and Canada locations. Krispy Kreme introduced three uniquely designed coffee blends deemed "worthy" of carrying the Krispy Kreme name. Today, Krispy Kreme offers gourmet coffee, coffee drinks, and blended coffee beverages to satisfy any java connoisseur.


As a locally-founded company ourselves, AAA Carolinas admires and supports other "Uniquely Carolinian" organizations. We are always looking for local and regional businesses to partner with as part of the AAA Discounts & Rewards program. AAA Discounts & Rewards generates more than 12 million transactions and over $1 billion in new sales annually. If you think AAA is right for your business, give us a call for more information. 

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