Krispy Kreme addict admits his powerlessness over doughnuts and begins his 12-step program: Another dozen, please

GLAZED OVER A

November 05, 1998|By DAN FESPERMAN | DAN FESPERMAN,SUN STAFF

I ate a dinner of Krispy Kreme doughnuts once.

Fed them to my two young children, too. A dozen hot glazed ones at 170 calories a pop, gone in a matter of minutes. Plus a few cartons of milk for appearances sake.

It was poor nutrition writ large, and I knew it. But I rationalized that we were at the tail end of a long road trip, so why not?

My wife Liz washed her hands of the affair on the spot, not even participating as the rest of us licked sugar from sticky fingers. In fact, she defiantly ordered a single cake doughnut. At a Krispy Kreme. That's like visiting Mecca and asking for the Baptist Church.

I say all this by way of explaining a gastronomic passion that has stuck to me like glaze since early childhood, and as an expatriated North Carolinian I say it with an abiding sense of fulfillment. Because this week, after nearly 15 years of waiting, Krispy Kreme finally came to Baltimore.

Perhaps you have read by now of this Southern institution's franchising march across America, easing into towns as distant as Fort Wayne, Ind., and Toledo, Ohio, and almost instantly taking charge of the local doughnut scene. The main attraction is the glazed doughnut served hot from the fryer, and you're notified of optimum conditions by an orange neon sign that announces, "Hot Doughnuts Now."

Krispy Kreme even took Manhattan, with a gushing surge of trendiness that will surely have its revisionist backlash any day now. (Liz will happily lead the charge. "Too sweet," she says, as if a Catholic would ever say, "Too devout," of the pope.)

Uprooted Southerners, or those who grew up in Krispy Kreme towns, have been alternately bemused and elated by these incursions. But mostly what we've felt in places such as Baltimore is envy. Indiana got the Colts, then they got our doughnuts. Even Wilmington, Del., had a franchise, so what was the problem?

Then, last year, word filtered out among the scattered faithful that a franchise was coming.

I telephoned one of the partners.

At first I had the excuse that I was writing a piece on New York's Krispy Kreme phenomenon, or, as the New Yorker called it, "the Krispy Kreme doughnut craze."

But how to explain why I kept calling the guy back every few months for an update?

"Picked a location yet?" I'd ask, as if I were actually taking notes. He mentioned Belair Road and my heart sank. That would mean hated mileage on the Beltway. But my spirits revived when York Road made the expansion list.

Along the way, I'd relay updates to friends and colleagues similarly afflicted. Non-believers tended to shake their heads at our cultlike gushing, wondering if we might all show up one day in black Nikes muttering about the coming journey.

I made another phone call.

"Got an opening date yet?"

"Looks like early '98."

Fabulous.

But early '98 gave way to Spring '98, which gave way to Summer '98. Then October loomed as the date. Then November.

On Election Day, it finally happened.

But there were still some panicky moments. By late afternoon I still hadn't made a pilgrimage, and the possibility loomed that I might not be able to until the following day. Surely, some later judgment would punish such a lapse.

Then, salvation.

Women wearing Krispy Kreme sweatshirts swooped into the newsroom bearing boxes of doughnuts. Not hot ones, but still fresh and gooey. Some of my colleagues clucked about the ethics of it all, of course. Tut tut. No freebies in this business.

But what the heck, I rationalized once again. At $3.99 a dozen, it's nothing but a 33-cent bribe.

OK, so I ate five of them. So I'll mail in a check for $1.65 and reclaim my purity. Or maybe I'll just go buy some more and pretend it never happened.

What do you expect from a guy who fed his kids doughnuts for dinner?

Pub Date: 11/05/98

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