The History of Krispy Kreme Donuts

By Phin Upham

Krispy Kreme’s “hot” sign is a kind of signature today. Passing motorists see that sign and know that warm, tasty donuts are mere minutes away. It’s kind of a revolution in donuts, when you think about it, and it only took 55 years to make.

Vernon Rudolph started Krispy Kreme back in 1937. He had purchased a recipe for a yeast-raised donut from chef in New Orleans. He took his recipe to Old Salem, Washington, and opened up shop there. His first customers were local grocery stores, but he quickly expanded to selling donuts to customers passing by. The smells from inside the bakery were too good to resist.

By 1944, the store had evolved to include a display case, allowing for a greater arrangement of their products. The original glazed donut from those days is more like a handmade glazed donut of today. It had a thick coating, but the same flavor.

By 1955, Krispy Kreme had trademarked its logo, added 8 varieties to its lineup and gotten its first delivery truck up and running. Fundraising was popular for Krispy Kreme, who would deliver donuts to hungry kids in person. Hand production slipped away during the early part of the 60s, making the donuts more like what we know today. But the first machine-made donuts were not sold in stores until 1989. Krispy Kreme quickly spread across the country, adding shaped donuts in the early 2000s. Today, the company has shops in Canada, and its coffee is sold in stores and supermarkets across America.

About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website or Twitter page.