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75 and still hot
As Krispy Kreme celebrates a milestone year in business, its Roanoke shop continues to crank out those fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth treats.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
I inherited a few of my paternal grandfather’s characteristics, including blue eyes, fair skin and a not-so-fair temper.
Papa also had quite the sweet tooth, and one of his favorite treats was a hot, glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut (or six). I have that trait, too.
Papa, who never made a trip from Clifton Forge to Roanoke without swinging by the Krispy Kreme shop, would have fully appreciated the fact that the doughnut maker is celebrating 75 years in business this year.
For 55 of those years, the heritage store on Melrose Avenue has been cranking out those fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth treats. According to longtime manager Jeff Bacon, a “heritage” store is one that doesn’t just make and sell doughnuts to walk-in customers, it produces large quantities for wholesale distribution. The sales routes for the Melrose store include stops at grocery stores, Walmarts and convenience stores across Southwest Virginia and in parts of North Carolina and West Virginia.
Bacon said the Roanoke shop is one of the oldest Krispy Kreme stores that has never had a major remodel, which means people like Phil Johns of Roanoke, who frequents the shop for coffee and visits with friends, can still picture themselves there as kids.
“When the [Roanoke-Salem] Plaza was jumping, doughnuts was 25 cents for a dozen,” he said. “Mom used to go to the Winn-Dixie and give the four kids a quarter and let us get a dozen so we wouldn’t bother her while she was shopping.”
If only Johns and the other regulars had a penny for every doughnut they’ve seen roll across the conveyor through the plate-glass windows behind the counter. Equipment in heritage stores is larger than in retail-only stores, and Bacon said his is capable of doing up to 550 dozen doughnuts per hour.
They usually don’t push the machines that hard, but the Melrose shop still averages about 28,500 dozen doughnuts for wholesale and 3,500 for retail sale per week, Bacon said. That’s something like 1.6 million dozen, or nearly 20 million doughnuts, per year.
A lot of those are the best-selling Original Glazed, but Krispy Kreme also makes an array of other doughnuts, including jelly-filled, creme-filled, cake doughnuts and seasonal specialties like the pumpkin-faced doughnut available now.
One of the most beloved attributes at any Krispy Kreme store is the “Hot” red neon sign that blinks to life when hot doughnuts are rolling off the line. Bacon said the Roanoke shop makes so many Original Glazed doughnuts that the sign is typically on from 6 to 10 a.m. every day, and sometimes in the afternoon, too.
“When we’ve got the hot sign on, there’s nothing better,” he said. “And that’s our magnet.”
After three-quarters of a century in business, the Krispy Kreme chain has expanded to include 700 stores, with some as far away as Australia and Hong Kong. But to those of us who grew up in these parts, like my grandfather and me, it will always be a Southern American tradition.
Test your Krispy Kreme knowledge by taking our quiz (on Page 1) and reading these fun facts about the doughnut maker. And to see what happened when we popped quiz questions on folks in downtown Roanoke last week, watch the video at Roanoke.com.
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