Krispy Kreme Inc. is an American chain company best known for its coffee and doughnuts, specifically for the secret yeast-raised doughnuts recipe that they have been using since the start of Krispy Kreme. The company is currently spread all across the globe with around 1,400 locations all around the world. Let us know about the history of the company Krispy Kreme, was founded on July 13, 1937, by Vernon Rudolph when he rented a restaurant in North Carolina to sell a secret doughnut recipe purchased from a French chef. After that, the company slowly expanded in the southeast states of the country. And by the 2010s, the brand had spread across various countries of the world.
Vernon Rudolph worked at his uncle, Ishmael Armstrong’s general store in Paducah, Kentucky. The store sold various products alongside doughnuts. During The Great Depression, their business was taking a toll. Hence, in hopes of increasing his business scope, his uncle decided to open up a doughnut restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee.
The recipe for the doughnut was purchased from a French refugee chef Joe LeBeau who lived in New Orleans. He also purchased the copyrighted name ‘Krispy Kreme’. At first, Armstrong made Rudolph go door-to-door to sell their ‘secret yeast-raised doughnuts to people, however, the plan did not work out in Armstrong’s favor and he decided to sell the business to his brother, who is Vernon Rudolph’s father.
Rudolph decided to take the business ahead and purchased a doughnut-making workshop at Old Salem, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 1936, he would sell doughnuts in his Pontiac by going around and selling them to people between midnight to 4:00 AM, but soon the demand for freshly made doughnuts increased to such an extent that in 1937, Rudolph decided to cut open a hole in his workshop to open a sales window for people to purchase doughnuts directly from. This was the very first Krispy Kreme location wherein the classic sugar-glazed doughnuts were the staple and eventually, the different flavors were added to the menu.
In the 1940s and the 1950s, the restaurant saw a massive spike in sales, which led to the family opening a few restaurants across different states. Rudolph noticed that while the doughnuts being sold were great tasting, there was a lack in the consistency of those and hence, he and a team of engineers worked on building a plant for making doughnuts that would be used at Krispy Kreme locations.
About the Rudolph Family
Vernon Rudolph was born on July 13, 1915, in Marshall County, Kentucky to parents Plumie and Rethie Rudolph. He was the oldest amongst four children, which also included Lewis Rudolph, who was also offered a significant contribution to the beginning of Krispy Kreme and is cited as a co-founder of the company.
When Vernon Rudolph graduated high school, he moved to Paducah, Kentucky to help his uncle, Ishmael Armstrong in his business, and later opened up a doughnut business with him, which he ended up growing himself.
There are stories about how when he saw a pack of Camel cigarettes being sold and noticed that they were being manufactured in Winston-Salem, he was invested in knowing more about the place, and starting a business there. Which led to the idea of him opening Krispy Kreme there in the middle of The Great Depression. His initial plan was just to have a manufacturing workshop at that place and sell doughnuts wholesale to local grocery stores, etc. but people started visiting the place due to the irresistible smell of freshly made doughnuts and he decided to change it into a restaurant.
Under his leadership, the brand flourished and kept on growing with no stop. In the 1940s, Vernon Rudolph left the country for a while to serve for World War II, and after his return, he set up two companies Krispy Kreme Doughnut Co. (Now, known as Krispy Kreme Inc.) to make and sell doughnuts, and Krispy Kreme Corporation to build machinery to make their doughnuts consistent in all their restaurants. This company is also responsible for the doughnut-making machine, which made 60 dozen doughnuts per hour, Ring King Jr.
He was married to Ruth Ayers in the year 1939 and they later also adopted a baby daughter named Patricia Ann. Sadly, his wife passed away in the year 1944 in a car accident and two years after her demise, Vernon Rudolph remarried a woman named Lorraine Flynt, with whom he had four children.
There are a few records that claim that Vernon served during the Second World War for a few months, but there has been no direct source confirming the same. After that, he officially established the company and was very particular about the product being sold at his shop which is why, when he was unhappy with the inconsistency in the doughnuts of every location, he worked alongside various engineers to make a doughnut-making machine that manufactured consistent and round doughnuts. One of the machines, which was known as the Ring King Jr. was later donated by him to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, which gave Krispy Kreme the Icon status.
He passed away on August 16, 1973, at the age of 58. The cause of his death remains unknown. After his demise, the company faced great loss which also led to it being partially sold to Beatrice Foods from Chicago.
Lewis Rudolph, born December 6, 1919, is Vernon Rudolph’s younger and the only brother among four children. He dropped out of high school to help out with his family business, Krispy Kreme. He also was the person behind opening the first Krispy Kreme in Nashville, Tennesse.
In 1937, when his brother opened up the first Krispy Kreme store, he tied the knot to Jeanne Marie Fisher from Nashville, with whom he had four children.
He was a vital person in the growth of Krispy Kreme and its success in the Southeast states of the United States of America. In a period of 10 years since its opening, that is in 1947, there were 8 Krispy Kreme locations and the company was established. Lewis Rudolph served as the Vice President for the company while Vernon Rudolph served the positions of President and Cheif Executive Officer.
In 1985, after 48 years of work, Lewis took retirement from the doughnut business and sold all his Krispy Kreme shops to the company itself. He passed away at the age of 95 on December 28, 2014, in Nashville, Tennessee.
The Spread of the Franchise
After the 1950s the chain saw a great rise in the number of restaurants under Krispy Kreme. By the 1960s and the 1970s, the restaurant had several spots all across the southeast of the United States of America. It became a popular name amongst the people there.
Krispy Kreme opened its first store outside the United States of America in December 2001, in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. That was the start of the massive spread of the brand. Today the company has around 1400 restaurants in over 30countries across the globe.
Here’s a list of countries that have or had a Krispy Kreme restaurant (in alphabetical order) –
- United Staes of America
- Dominican Republic
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- Puerto Rico
Campaigns and Branding
Krispy Kreme has branded itself as a place that serves freshly made doughnuts right from the beginning with slogans such as ‘Hot Doughnut Experience’ and with the recent one saying ‘Doughnuts and Coffee since 1937’, establishing the roots of the company. Over the years they have conducted various campaigns but their main aim has remained the same.
Some of the advertising campaign slogans were –
- Hot. Now.
- Happy All Around.
- Make Today Special.
- Bring a box. Bring a joy.
- Take some home today.
- Melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
- You Doughnut want to miss it.
- Lose an hour. Gain a doughnut.
- Wholesome Goodness your whole family can enjoy!
The signature colors of the brand have remained the same since the beginning, which are green, white, and red. In the 1960s, the brand first started using the classic green and white striped roof for which it is instantly recognized. It is said that Benny Dinkins, a local architect was the person behind the store having green, white, and red colors in Old Salem, and from that time itself, those became the staple colors of the brand.
The logo is referred to as the bowtie logo, which was only updated once since the beginning of the company, that was in the year 2017. The change was just a minor one to make the logo look a little more modern and up to date. Apart from that, the company has barely made any changes to its classic style and structure.
There was also a short logo as KK, in which two stick figured Ks were shown holding up a doughnut, however, that logo is barely seen anywhere at present here.
At present, the company markets by customizing its products to the seasonal festivals and holidays, which has proven to be successful for most brands at the current time. The advertising rights of the company are given to Addiction which does digital marketing for the brand through various campaigns.
Currently, after 84 years since its start, the restaurant chain is still thriving and now sells various items such as cold drinks, frozen desserts, baked goods, and classic doughnuts and coffee. The company now has expanded its business to net revenue of $1.3 billion in 2021, even during a global pandemic. The headquarters for Krispy Kreme still remain in North Carolina in the city of Charalotte.
The recipe used for the doughnuts is still the same as the one used in 1937 with very minor changes to it for storage purposes. Apart from the original sugar-glazed doughnuts, the brand also produces various other flavors, including several limited-time holiday flavors such as Santa Belly, a chocolate-filled doughnut for Christmas, etc.
Krispy Kreme was also offering free doughnuts and coffee to people who got the vaccination against COVID-19 to encourage people to get vaccinated for the safety of society. They also have various offers going around throughout the year.
In 2016, the company was purchased by JAB Holding Company, which is a German conglomerate that invests in companies that sells coffee, fast food, animal products, forestry, etc.
There are several companies that have also risen throughout the year as competitors for Krispy Kreme, such as Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, etc. to just name a few, it still has maintained a loyal customer base.
1937 – The first Krispy Kreme location was found by Vernon Rudolph in North Carolina which used the yeast-raised doughnut recipe purchased from a French refugee chef.
1940s – It opened various restaurants in the southeast states of the USA. Vernon Rudolph’s younger brother, Lewis Rudolph also joined in for the family business. In 1947, with 8 locations of Krispy Kreme, the company was finally established with Vernon as the President and CEO and Lewis as the Vice President.
1950s – With the help of the company, the brand saw a gradual rise in the number of stores as it kept increasing.
1960s – The company gained popularity in the southeast and opened several restaurants across different states. The green and white striped roof along with the red-bricked structure of the wall was adopted by all Krispy Kreme shops and was the standardized style of each restaurant that immediately became recognizable to the public.
1970s – After Vernon Rudolph’s tragic death, the company saw a rapid loss in sales, and as a result, Lewis Rudolph and the other shareholders of the company decided to merge Krispy Kreme with Beatrice Foods to improve upon branding and sales
1980s – There was still a loss in the company and hence, Krispy Kreme was completely sold and was no longer a family-owned or run business. The reason for this was the partnership with Beatrice Foods was not working in their favor and hence, Lewis Rudolph along with several other workers acted on a buyout. Later in the decade, Lewis Rudolph retired after selling all the Krispy Kreme shops that he owned to the company.
2000s – The company opened its doors to market outside of the United States and saw a great response from the same. By the end of this decade, Krispy Kreme had restaurants in around 15 to 20 countries around the world, starting with Canada and then eventually, Australia.
2010s – The brand grew even further and developed a market in even more countries in the Asian continent as well as had a spread in Europe as well while growing steadily in the United States as well. In 2016, JAB Holding Company purchased Krispy Kreme and has the ownership of it ever since then.
Similar to several other franchises, Krispy Kreme also has had its highs and lows and in spite of several competitions, it still remains a classic favorite of many Americans as it still uses the same original recipes for doughnuts, while simultaneously also experimenting with various favors, food items, and marketing plans. Founded in 1937, even 84 years after its beginning, the company still holds consistency and is loved by many across the globe.
Frequently Asked Questions
- When was Krispy Kreme Founded?
- It was founded on July 13, 1937, by Vernon Rudolph in North Carolina.
2. Who owns Krispy Kreme?
- Currently, JAB Holding Company has ownership over Krispy Kreme. It was previously owned and run by Vernon Rudolph and the Rudolph Family.
3. What does Krispy Kreme sell?
- Krispy Kreme originally started out as just a doughnut and coffee shop now sells various food items such as hot non-coffee drinks, cold brews, and frappes, baked goods such as bagels and muffins, etc. Depending on the location, the menu is slightly altered.
4. How to find a Krispy Kreme shop?
- Krispy Kreme is now present at various locations across 30+ countries, to locate a store near you, you can visit their official store locator on their website, www.krispykreme.ca/find-a-store
5. How many Rudolph siblings are there?
- Vernon Rudolph was the oldest amongst four children. He had a younger brother named Lewis Rudolph who helped the company grow in the early years and also served as the Vice President for Krispy Kreme Doughnut Co. Apart from that Vernon had two sisters.