Thursday, July 28, 2011

Krispy Kremes and Me.

A few weeks ago, a building that used to be a branch office of Bank of America near me re-opened as a Krispy Kreme do-nut shop. Now, as I drive to work past the shop and smell that unmistakable odor of sugar and yeast it feels like I am a teenager back at home again.

If you were raised in the southeast you know what I am talking about. By the 1960s, Joseph LeBeouf's recipe for yeast do-nuts was perfected by Vernon Rudolph and sold warm and delicious all over the south. Back in the day, the Krispy Kreme shops were all over my home town of Jacksonville, Florida. There was the one across the street from my high school where we used to hang out before and after school, drinking Pepsis and munching do-nuts. It was the social high spot of the day. Then there was the shop downtown, at the bus stop where I would get off to make the transfer to the bus home. After track or cross country practice, a chocolate covered do-nut and a Pepsi hit the spot as I walked the two blocks to the other bus stop. I could get all that for 35 cents! No matter how tired I was, that sugar rush put some pep in my step.

When I moved to Columbia, South Carolina to go to college, I discovered that I was near the home offices of the chain in Winston-Salem North Carolina. By then, you could also find the do-nuts in grocery stores and other retail locations. By that time, it seemed to me that the stand alone shops were going away but I now know that the company was expanding into other parts of the country and to other countries in the world. There also seemed to be more competition from other do-nut specialty stores like Massachusetts-based Dunkin' Donuts, who we joked about as the "Yankee Competition." These do-nuts were different, cake-like and heavier. They were nice but not the same as those air-filled yeast do-nuts that filled the days of my youth.

The other thing I missed was getting the do-nuts hot. I must not have been alone in that, because each Krispy Kreme store now sports a big red neon sign that they turn on whenever they turn out another batch. When the sign is on, there is a long line
of cars at the drive through window. One thing I have never been able to figure out is how, even when warm, they kept the sugar glaze on the donuts hard and dry. Krispy Kreme do-nuts are another one of those sinful treats that I can't enjoy every day anymore. But I can drive through the thick cloud of sugar and yeast filled air and remember the taste and times and the big-eyed, pony-tailed girl that sat on the other side of the booth back in the day. Oh MY!

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