The untold truth of Krispy Kreme

When you're craving doughnuts, can you think of anything better than a Krispy Kreme? That flawless sheet of glaze that crackles across the top when you take your first bite; the light, pillowy pastry that almost dissolves in your mouth the moment it hits your tongue — it really is the perfect specimen. Whether you're looking to satisfy your breakfast cravings or a late night sweet tooth, it always hits the spot. And when they're hot off the line? Forget it.

Aside from how astonishingly good they are — comedian Chris Rock famously surmised that their secret ingredient just has to be crack — what else do you know about Krispy Kreme? While we may never know what's actually in the secret recipe (though odds are pretty good that it is not, in fact, crack), there are plenty of other fun facts to discover about your favorite doughnut chain that's been serving those glazed delights for over 80 years.

It all started with the smell

We can all attest to how powerful just one whiff of a fresh Krispy Kreme Original Glazed can be — especially hot off the line — and, according to the Krispy Kreme website, it happens to be that amazing smell that prompted founder Vernon Rudolph to sell the product directly from his doughnut-making facility in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

When Rudolph started making doughnuts in 1937 they were only sold to grocery stores for resale — there was no proper storefront. But passersby were, of course, so tantalized by the aroma of the fried doughnuts that they would stop at the facility to buy them right then and there, cutting out the grocery store middle man. In a genius business move, Rudolph decided to cut a hole in the outside wall of the building and began selling hot doughnuts directly to customers on the street, thus creating the first Krispy Kreme retail location. Talk about seizing the opportunity. 

The "klub" stirred up a lot of controversy

When your company has already eschewed the proper spelling of "crispy" and "cream," you figure it's probably fine to take it a step further when naming your latest promotion, and go with "klub" instead of club, right? Wrong. But unfortunately, one British Krispy Kreme store did just that, and in a huge marketing fail named one of the days during their children's winter break promotion "KKK Wednesdays" [*groan*].

Predictably, there were plenty of complaints, and the store removed the promotional Facebook posts after it was pointed out that the name was the same as the abbreviation for the American hate group, the Ku Klux Klan. A spokesperson for the company told the Guardian, "Krispy Kreme apologizes unreservedly for the inappropriate name of a customer promotion at one of our stores. This promotion was never intended to cause offense. All material has been withdrawn and an internal investigation is currently underway."

British or not, you have to wonder how these things slip through the cracks.

They might be made with mashed potatoes

Krispy Kreme has kept their iconic Original Glazed doughnut recipe a secret for more than 80 years, but a deep dive into the company's beginnings might give us some clue as to just what those secret ingredients are.

The exact origins of the recipe are a bit ambiguous. Krispy Kreme's founder, Vernon Rudolph, bought the yeast-raised doughnut recipe from a French chef in New Orleans in 1937. Decades later, Rudolph's son, Carver, along with the help of a historian, attempted to track down the original recipe, and the two ultimately discovered that it consisted of "a cream of fluffed egg whites, mashed potatoes, sugar, shortening and skim milk that was chilled and mixed with flour and then fried and covered in glaze." But because Rudolph would have been making hundreds of doughnuts from a recipe meant to make just a few dozen, his son guesses that this would have been only a starting point. "I'm sure he doctored it right away," he said. The world may never know, but if Krispy Kreme doughnuts are full of mashed potatoes, that might explain why they're so darn good.

The secret ingredient in the glaze is... bugs?

If you've ever watched Krispy Kreme doughnuts pass through the cascade of sugary glaze you know it's a mesmerizing experience — until you realize that magical glaze might contain an unsavory secret ingredient.

In a video posted to YouTube, a customer in North Carolina recorded some unsettling footage. "The black spots you see coming through are BUGS that were crawling on the machine and FALLING into the glaze!" Ashh Nicole said. "The machine had freaking MOLD on the catcher and the employees were touching the floor with the same hands they handled the doughnuts with! One employee even dropped a spatula, picked it up and proceeded to scrape the belt the doughnuts were coming off!"

Krispy Kreme denied the allegation and said a full investigation of the store was conducted. "[A professional pest control company] concluded that there were no signs of bugs anywhere in the shop, and we were able to determine that what is depicted in your video was in fact doughnut crumbs and not bugs."

Someone died doing the Krispy Kreme Challenge

As far as a race goes, one that involves mandatory doughnut eating sounds pretty good, right? The Krispy Kreme Challenge gives you exactly that. To be precise, it's "2400 calories, 12 doughnuts, 5 miles, 1 hour," and is a "test of physical fitness and gastrointestinal fortitude." Participants run two-and-a-half miles, stop to scarf down a dozen doughnuts, then attempt to run the remaining two-and-a-half miles. The annual charity race, run by students of North Carolina State University, does sound fun, but what typically ends in good memories and maybe a stomachache for most, ended in tragedy for one runner. In 2016, a 58-year-old man participating in the race began experiencing chest pains and pulled out within the first mile. Sadly, he died shortly thereafter.

In a statement to The Washington Post, Krispy Kreme expressed their condolences while also making it clear that the company is not affiliated with the race, saying, "It's very unfortunate what took place and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family. This was not a Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation event, however… Krispy Kreme does not promote, sponsor or donate products to the event or organization."

They might get you thrown in jail

Turns out that delectable Krispy Kreme glaze just might get you thrown in the slammer if you're noshing in the car.

Daniel Rushing learned that the hard way when he was pulled over for what he thought would be a routine traffic stop. When the officer saw his concealed weapons permit, she performed a search. But things took a turn when the officer asked him about some white crystals that had been found on the floorboards, which had field-tested positive for methamphetamine. Rushing, who says he had never even smoked a cigarette, was dumbfounded until he realized what the substance was. "That's glaze from a Krispy Kreme doughnut!" he explained. "I get one every other Wednesday." The officers didn't believe him, and he was arrested for possession of methamphetamine while armed with a weapon. Eventually the charges were dropped and the offending Krispy Kreme dust got Rushing a $37,500 settlement. 

There's a Krispy Kreme black market

Remember that Chris Rock bit about Krispy Kreme doughnuts? Here's more proof that his theory might not be too far off…

At one time the border town of Juarez, Mexico was graced with a Krispy Kreme restaurant. Of course, the residents quickly got hooked. So much so that when the store closed, it provided the perfect opportunity for The Krispy Kreme Familia to set up shop — and just like that, the doughnut black market was born.

Sonia Garcia and her two sons drive across the border to El Paso, Texas to stock up at a local Krispy Kreme. They purchase in bulk — an astounding 40 boxes of doughnuts each night — then drive back into Juarez to sell them at a 60 percent markup. When asked why these doughnuts are so highly sought after when it's easier to get other kinds locally, Garica told The Los Angeles Times, "I don't know why, but these are just softer and better." Even if Chris Rock was wrong about that secret ingredient, Krispy Kreme is clearly addictive. 

Paula Deen lied about the Luther Burger

What do you get when you combine two Krispy Kreme Original Glazed doughnuts with a beef patty, cheese, and bacon? You get the tastiest sweet and savory burger you've ever eaten — also known as the Luther Burger. And don't be fooled by its decadent appearance — it might look like it would set you back thousands of calories, but surprisingly, it has just 500

According to Snopes, the burger is, in fact, named after R&B singer Luther Vandross, but the reason behind the naming of the eponymous sandwich is less clear. One theory suggests that Vandross himself invented the concoction after running out of regular buns, substituting doughnuts in its place. Another theory suggests it was simply one of his favorite foods. Whatever the reason, we know one thing for sure — Paula Deen did not invent this dish, although she did attempt to take credit years after the Luther Burger was already being served at a pub in Decatur, Georgia called Mulligan's. Tsk, tsk, Paula.

No, they're not changing their name

Krispy Kreme. Is that pronounced cream? Or crème (krem)? Apparently, it's a pronunciation conumdrum for UK customers, and in 2017, the company announced they would now be known as Krispy Cream. "The company re-brand is a strategic decision made in acknowledgement that our UK customers have struggled with the pronunciation of 'Kreme'… We hope that the re-brand will settle any confusion as to both the pronunciation and spelling of the name for our customers," Charlotte Roberts, head of marketing, said in a statement.

This announcement came on March 30 — just two days short of April 1. Sounds fishy, right? Mashable attempted to corroborate the news but were met with resistance. "At this stage we can't confirm or deny whether this is an April Fool. We can't say either way," a spokesperson told the website.

Ultimately, the company announced that it was, in fact, a prank. "As you may have guessed by now, it was an April Fools' Day story and we will remain as Krispy Kreme within the UK," a spokesperson told Mirror Online. "The idea behind the story was to draw attention to the confusion around pronunciation and spelling of the brand in a humorous, irreverent way." *Groan*

There's doughnut-infused beer

Doughnuts and coffee? Definitely. Doughnuts and beer? Probably not. But what if those doughnuts were actually in the beer, and what if those doughnuts were Krispy Kreme Original Glazed? Yes, please!

Two Florida breweries, Hidden Springs Ale Works and Arkane Aleworks, collaborated to produce a Russian imperial stout infused with Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Given that this type of beer is known for it's coffee and chocolate notes, we can only assume it's a match made in heaven. 

While Krispy Kreme wasn't directly involved, the company was said to be supportive of the project. The beer, ultimately named "Donut Quote Me On This," was brewed in two batches — one with glazed and one with cream-filled doughnuts. Josh Garman, Hidden Springs founder and brewer, told The Tampa Bay Times, "It's going to be roasty, chocolatey, hopefully with some doughnut flavor. We're actually hoping to get some of the glaze from the Krispy Kremes to come through." The stout debuted in January 2018 and promptly sold out, but we're hoping these tasty brews make a second appearance soon.

The Hot Light isn't as cool as you think it is

If the sight of the lit "Hot Light" in a Krispy Kreme window makes you weak in the knees, you're not alone. But if you're under the impression that the neon light also means that you get a free doughnut, you're likely to be disappointed. Once upon a time the Hot Light did signal that a gratis treat was in your future, but that's no longer the case. Delish contacted Krispy Kreme — who crushed all our hopes and dreams, saying, "The Hot Light signals that donuts are hot and fresh coming off the line, not a free donut." But! Each franchise can do what it wants, and the company clarified, "There may be groups that continue [the free Hot Light giveaway] at random intervals." 

These days, thanks to the Krispy Kreme app, you'll never have to leave a Hot Light encounter to chance. Every time a location in your area turns on their light, you'll be notified. Road trips just got a whole lot better.

They do weddings

How many weddings have you been to where, gorgeous as it is, the cake is just a huge disappointment in the flavor department? All of them? Probably. But it can't be a wedding without a multi-tiered dessert, right? Thanks to the Krispy Kreme doughnut tower, there's now a solution to that age-old wedding cake conundrum. And trust us, nobody will miss the dry red velvet cake draped with inedible fondant when they're biting into a delectable glazed doughnut.

Availability varies by store (UK locations and select US locations offer the service), and you can pick all glazed or customize the tower by adding in any variety of doughnuts you choose. Even if your local store doesn't offer the service, a doughnut tower is pretty easy to build yourself with the help of a tiered cake stand, and a DIY'd Krispy Kreme wedding "cake" is probably a lot easier to pull off than any other Pinterest #fail waiting to happen.

Select stores also offer individually packaged doughnuts as wedding favors, and for those throwing baby showers, gender reveal doughnuts with pink or blue filling.

It's not as sugary as you think

Doughnuts get a bad rap when it comes to sugar, but — news flash — if you're sucking down a grande Frappuccino every morning, you're actually taking in as much sugar as you would by eating a half dozen Krispy Kremes. Yes, really.

Sorry Starbucks lovers, but those blended drinks are chock full of the sweet stuff — and we're not just talking about the Unicorn Frappuccino (coming in at 59 grams of sugar), which happens to look like it was made by melting down a whole lot of cotton candy. We're talking about the classics, too: A plain ol' Coffee Frappuccino comes in at 50 grams, and the vanilla version actually blows the Unicorn out of the water with an astounding 69 grams of sugar. When you compare those numbers to the 10 grams of sugar in an Original Glazed Krispy Kreme, you can feel pretty good about scarfing down a few (or six) doughnuts as a morning treat. Just make sure you skip the Frappuccino that day. 

They give away a ton of doughnuts

If it seems like every time you turn around Krispy Kreme is running another promotion for free doughnuts, that's because they probably are. Here's a list of days they typically offer freebies, but be sure to confirm on their website as the event draws closer.

  • National Doughnut Day: Have your pick of any doughnut on the menu free of charge in celebration of this holiday on the first Friday in June.
  • Ugly Sweater Day: You don't even have to wear an ugly sweater for this one. Just buy a dozen doughnuts and get a dozen free. (This date varies… In 2018 it falls on December 21.)
  • Election Tuesday: Visit the store proudly wearing your "I Voted" sticker for a free doughnut.
  • Get the app: When you download the Krispy Kreme Rewards app, you'll get a free doughnut just for joining the club.
  • Your birthday: Another benefit of the rewards app — a free birthday treat.
  • Halloween: Come in wearing your costume for a spooktacular freebie.
  • Veterans Day: On November 11, veterans can grab a free doughnut and small coffee.
  • Daylight Savings Day: We all need a free doughnut to make this day suck less. (This date in March varies, so check your calendar.)
  • National Coffee Day: It's not a free doughnut, but free coffee is good, too. In 2017, Krispy Kreme turned this holiday (which offically falls on September 29) into a weekend-long celebration, offering a free cup each day.

They waste a lot of doughnuts

If it saddens you to think of even a single Krispy Kreme going to waste, prepare to be heartbroken. 

In 2016, a UK customer saw about 50 bags of doughnuts all destined for the trash. "I was absolutely flabbergasted. I reckon there were about 200 doughnuts in each bag — if not more," Chris Clewes said. "I've done some quick maths and I reckon there were about 15,000 doughnuts being wasted there." 

The company received much criticism, but explained it was only due to a glitch in accessing the recycling facilities that weekend. But why not donate the day-old doughnuts? In a statement on their website, the company said, "Any unsold or unacceptable quality doughnuts are recycled… to be used as a component of animal feed. Krispy Kreme doughnuts are an occasional indulgent treat and, as such, do not have the nutritional values adequate to be a meal replacement. Therefore, we have concerns about giving doughnuts to people in need of proper nourishment." 

Makes you think twice about your several doughnut a day habit, doesn't it?