This is where it happened...
In the past 20+ years that I’ve been directly involved in the business of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, no less than thousands of stories have reached my ears from people excitedly telling about their “first Krispy Kreme.” The stories range widely from a simple, “It was at the Krispy Kreme store on Lee Street,” to stories involving family entanglements, police chases, wedding parties, girlfriends, dogs, parrots and even one involving a fire hydrant. I don’t ever remember being privy to a story about “When I had my first Big Mac,” but since a Krispy Kreme doughnut is not a meal but a well-deserved treat then I guess that lays up the scenario of a remembered thing because of the fun and friendship circling around it.
Today my two partners and I have 8 stores out here in Texas; two in Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso and one each in Laredo, and San Marcos. We also have two under construction, one in McAllen, in the Valley, and a third store in El Paso. Even at the construction sites people stop by and get out and while leaning against their cars start telling their own Krispy Kreme stories. I sometimes think it really is magic but that kind of thinking usually happens after enjoying some celebratory firewater.
Anyway, while visiting one of our Texas stores the other day in a booth reviewing email on my device, it occurred to me that I’ve never told my first memory Krispy Kreme story! For shame! Thinking back, there was no memory of the first time I ever had a Krispy Kreme. I suppose that growing up where I did in North Carolina in the 1950’s clouded my memory as there was always Krispy Kreme doughnuts on someone’s table all the time. The Krispy Kreme memory machine was stuck in neutral. Yet, tah-dah, right then some rare raindrops tapped on the window next to me in the store and there it was: my first Krispy Kreme memory, as clear as if it were happening right then.
So, here it is, with hardly any embellishment, Krispy Mike’s first Krispy Kreme memory story, for whatever it’s worth (like all Krispy Kreme stories, it’s usually more fun to tell yours than to hear someone else’s cause you’re reliving something special to you):
North Carolina, Summer 1954…
It was raining on my eleven -year-old face and my sheet was really damp and the smell of rain was heavy in the air. It was 4:30 in the morning or thereabouts and the bamboo shade by my bed to shield the sun during the day did little to stop the windy rain from coming in. I was on my screened-in back porch in my summer bed in 1954 in North Carolina on a humid night in August and the thunderstorm was just passing through.
Actually there wasn’t really any reason to call it a storm that night, just a rumble and a flash and some pretty good tumbling down rainwater to tell us something happened during the night when we awoke the next morning. Or course, sleeping on the back screen porch every night of my summer youth, I knew when rain came and wind and fog and frogs and crickets and dogs barking, and the 3AM freight clacking past just 2 blocks away. My sleeping back porch was alive even as I slept, although on some nights, like this particular one, sleep was over early and my little brain was beginning to crank over and run.
With dripping sounds growing louder from the flat roof over me and from the leaves in the trees in my nearby “forest” I knew the rain was gone and all that was left was some heat lightening in the east. Last night at supper (in the south we called lunch “dinner” and dinner “supper” and some of my relations still do) at our yellow Formica table with matching plastic chair seats and backs my parents were discussing, over fried chicken and fried “okry” with cream potatoes and milk gravy, about wouldn’t it be nice if we had some Krispy Kreme doughnuts with breakfast in the morning. Seems like we were always talking about food while we ate our meals together, or about some new incident involving Mr. Patterson’s chickens next door. He had four big, primitive chicken houses in his backyard and we lived in the city! This was probably before “grandfathering” was even invented where people could keep horses in town as long as they were there before the town annexed them in.
I sat on the edge of my bed that was covered with a mild version of storm water runoff and Krispy Kremes must have gone through my head due to what happened next. I quietly slipped into the house, got on my clothes, careful to not wake anyone up and tiptoed out the screen door of the porch and down the two-story stairway. I crossed the yard past the swing set and to a well-made shelter where my bike was parked. Having an afternoon paper route my bike proudly displayed a huge front basket to hold the papers and even when empty the bike was a handful to steer due to the clunky-ness of the paper holder basket.
Here’s where my Krispy Kreme memory starts to get really clear. The local Krispy Kreme store was at least 8-10 miles from our house and the mission was to fulfill the Krispy Kreme wishes of my parents last night at the supper table and have Krispy Kreme doughnuts on the table for breakfast this morning. Great haste was in order to get to the doughnut shop and back before everybody got up and discover me gone. I’d crafted a perfect body shape under the covers of the porch bed like seen in cowboy movies, to buy me some time if they got up early…it was Saturday morning and I knew at least my Dad might sleep in a little, wasn’t so sure about my mom.
I pedaled with speed like never before since the new basket was installed and several times branches and sticks and paper cups and rocks and things nearly threw me but I never fell, though I was no stranger to falling off my bike on Thursdays when our local papers were bulging with “sale ads” and coupons and weighed a ton causing the center of gravity to be far too high for safe riding.
It was almost light when I got to the Krispy Kreme and the aroma from that building overwhelmed the rain smell. I kick-standed up my bike and went into the bright lights of the front lobby and was greeted from the back by someone making hot glazed doughnuts right then! I don’t remember what he said but I asked for a dozen glazed doughnuts and went to the back to get them (back then there was no “doughnut theater” where you could see the doughnuts being made and there also was no 180 degree conveyor curve for the doughnuts to ride on). Out he came with the box just as the door of the Krispy Kreme store swung open and my Dad walked in!!!
“What in the world are you doing here, Mike!” my Dad said with more than a bit of confusion in his voice. He had come for those talked about breakfast doughnuts to surprise the family and here I was using the “paper money” from my route to buy the same thing to surprise the family.
I honestly don’t remember anything about what happened next except that something good happened that morning at Krispy Kreme that made everyone happy and gave me a memory that I’ll now never forget.
That’s my story and I’m…go ahead, you finish the song…