Tuesday, December 1, 2009

In-n-Out and Krispy Kreme

The recent In-n-Out Burger craze in Orem, Utah reminds me of the Krispy Kreme Doughnut craze that occurred just down the street about a decade ago. At that time, I wrote the following piece. I’ve been to In-n-Out Burger in California. The hamburgers and fries were just like the cheapest burger and fries I’ve ever had at any fast food place. At least Krispy Kreme brought back fond childhood memories.

Kind of long, but I hope you'll read it anyway!

Crusty Crisps? Crispy Whats?” I intentionally get it wrong.

Krispy Kremes!” my kids chant. “They’re the best doughnuts in the entire world!” they exclaim.

Sounds like a lot of hype to me.

“How do you know?” I ask. “You’ve never had one.”

Well, so and so, they assure me, had one while visiting cousins out of state, and he says it’s true.

“Maybe it’s kind of like The Emperor’s New Clothes,” I suggest. “People just want to be popular. They go along with the crowd so everyone will think they’re hip.”

“What’s hip?” they ask.

And so go our conversations, at least once a day during the week of the grand opening of the first Krispy Kreme doughnut store in our state, which happens to be in our town.

“Forget it,” I say. “No doughnut could possibly be so much better than any other doughnut that it would warrant standing in a line for three hours. Let alone camping out over night in a parking lot… And I have a new theory. After you stood in a line for three hours for a doughnut, would you admit that it wasn’t anything special?”

“What’s warrant?” my kids ask.

A couple of weeks go by, and one day I’m struck by one of those rare moods of generosity mothers like me get struck by about twice a year. I’m on an errand with my eleven-year-old, in the part of town where Krispy Kreme is located.

"Want to go to Krispy Kreme?” I ask. “The lines are probably normal by now,” I say naively.


Why don’t I try to be this nice more often, I wonder. Because if I did, I remind myself, I’d never get this kind of reaction. We turn the corner and my chin drops. Cars are parked on the street for 100 yards in both directions. The parking lot is completely full. The parking lots of neighboring businesses are completely full. The drive-thru line circles the building at least three times. We peer inside as we creep past. The line snakes around several times before heading out the door and down a flight of steps.

“NO WAY!” I holler. “Who are these people? Who would be STUPID enough to stand in line for that long for a DOUGHNUT?” I rant.

So much for my generous mood.

“Kurt,” I tell my son, “those people have got to be idiots.”

I tell him, “Sorry, Bud.”

We go to Einsteins and get a dozen bagels.

Several weeks go by. The kids bring home report cards, along with rumors that Krispy Kreme is giving out free doughnuts for every A.

“That’s crazy,” I tell them.

“No, Mom! The principal even said so on the announcements!” they insist.

The principal?

“Well,” I tell them, “put your report cards on the dashboard of the car. Sometime when I’m in the vicinity maybe I’ll stop in, if there’s no line.”

“What’s vicinity?” they ask.

I’m out doing some shopping one day soon, in the vicinity of Krispy Kreme. It’s about 10:30 a.m. A couple of months have gone by since the grand opening, and there are only a few cars in the parking lot. I park and go in. Only two other customers. I verify the free doughnut rumor, feeling a little silly as I ask. It’s true! One free doughnut for each A up to six per report card. I present four report cards and walk out with two dozen fresh, hot Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Doughnuts. I get in the car.

How can I resist? I’ve got to know what all the hype is about, and besides, if it weren’t for old Mom, making them do their homework and study for tests, there might not be free doughnuts, right? I lift one out of the box and take my first bite.

Have you heard it said that smell triggers memory? Well, taste does, too. Suddenly I’m a kid again, at the Kennedy Memorial Ice Skating Rink in Hyannis, Massachusetts, eating a honey glazed doughnut from the snack bar. We all ice skated when I was a kid. Not only at the Kennedy Rink, but on flooded cranberry bogs and neighborhood ponds. We all skated, whether we wanted to or not. I didn’t even really like ice skating, but I wouldn’t have dreamed of staying home. I didn’t like it because my feet always froze. We traded sizes around the neighborhood every year until everyone had a pair of skates that somewhat fit.  No matter how many pairs of socks I managed to cram on my feet under Sarah Carpenter’s hand-me-down skates, my toes would be numb after only a few times around. We all took lessons, too. I only made it through the beginners’ class. Every week I bawled all the way home in the car as my feet thawed out. My mother didn’t sign me up for the next level. I kept going skating though. I could skate forward and backward. I never got the hang of stopping; I’d just crash into the boards. Even my little brother would plod along on a pair of double runners. He was a wreck at sports. My parents had him convinced that Bobby Orr wore double runners. My sister got pretty good. She kept up the lessons. She could do all kinds of spins and jumps. She even danced the Mexican Hat Dance on skates one year at the annual ice show in a big sombrero and a bright colored poncho trimmed with orange ball fringe. I bawled through the whole performance, sitting in the stands with my parents. My feet were frozen.

We all skated at the Kennedy Memorial Ice Skating Rink, and we all bought the honey glazed doughnuts and the steaming hot chocolate at the snack bar. The hot chocolate was always too hot to drink (today they’d be sued), but we loved the doughnuts.

I pop the last bite in my mouth, lick each finger, and fasten my seatbelt. Wait till I tell the kids. Krispy Kreme doughnuts are nothing new to me. I’m certain they’re made from the same recipe as those doughnuts at the skating rink. I wonder if there’s a Krispy Kreme where my sister lives. I’ll tell her I don’t really know if these doughnuts are that much better than any other doughnuts. I’ll tell her I don’t know if the taste warrants standing in a long line for hours. But it might be worth it just for the memories.

1 comment:

  1. Why stand in line for junk food? I can get donuts at Albertsons but I prefer the mini-blueberry muffins. They are much healthier and not too sweet. Plus no guilty feelings.

    By the way, I refused to stand in line for the movie "New Moon". I saw it Thursday and I was the only one in the theater. How is that for privacy?