Support Us Button Widget

The history of Krispy Kreme

The national donut chain has nearly 400 stores nationwide — and it all started right here in Winston-Salem.

A black and white photo of the exterior of a Krispy Kreme location in Raleigh, NC

The famous “hot and fresh” light tells you when the doughnuts are ready.

Photo by @benjeejophoto

Did you know there are not one but two national days honoring the donut? (June 2 + November 9, in case you’re wondering.) We recently celebrated our own love of doughnuts by doing the only reasonable thing: finishing off a half-dozen box of our favorite glazed Krispy Kreme.

After all, NC is the brand’s home. It all started in 1933, when then-18-year-old Vernon Rudolph purchased a secret recipe for yeast-raised donuts from a New Orleans-based French chef. Vernon later moved from Paducah, Kentucky to Winston-Salem and opened his first Krispy Kreme shop in 1937. At first, Vernon only sold his baked goods to local grocery stores, but when the sweet smell wafting through town began to attract people to his door, he cut a hole in the building — literally — and began selling directly to customers. And so the era of hot and fresh donuts was born.

During the 1940s and 1950s, the company gained popularity across the Carolinas + throughout the southeast. In the 1960s, Vernon standardized the look of Krispy Kreme locations with the signature green roof and heritage-style road sign and began opening locations nationwide (today, there are nearly 400 stores in the US and 1,400 stores worldwide).

An open box of a dozen glazed donuts from Krispy Kreme

Don’t mind if we do.

Photo via Facebook

Since 1937, the flagship store (#101) has been relocated a couple of times — but remains open daily at 259 S. Stratford Road and operates 24/7 as a production and distribution facility for other locations. Tours are available for student groups + you can search current job listings on the local support center’s website.

Did you know? Many US-based companies use the more common “donuts” spelling these days, but Krispy Kreme maintains the more traditional “doughnut” spelling in their branding — and we think they can do whatever they want as long as that “hot and fresh” sign is lit up.

Want to learn more about products made locally? Check out our timeline of NC’s most iconic products.