Skip to main content

Krispy Kreme Corporation Records

Identifier: NMAH.AC.0594

Scope and Contents

Series 1: History of Krisy Kreme, includes records and materials which document the history of Krispy Kreme Doughnut Company and Corporation. Included are stories about the company and its founder, Vernon Rudolph ("A Man and an Enterprise" is in booklet form while "Brief Outline of the History of Krispy Kreme" is 115 pages) and also a story about the employees and facilities of the Corporation; a report that includes the organization's history and brief biographies of the management team; and overall operating reports from 1948 and 1950. There is also information pertaining to Krispy Kreme's association with Beatrice Foods Company as well as a biography of William Lewis Rudolph, brother of Vernon. This series also contains a draft (from 1952) of a report to the Government Purchasing Agencies about Krispy Kreme's mix plant operations, comprising a detailed list of equipment, cost controls, and a chronology of Krispy Kreme store openings. These are located in a folder marked "Historical Data." There is also a folder entitled "Vernon Rudolph" which contains a photocopy of two photographs -- one is of the front of a house while the other is of a family -- and a funeral tribute, dated 1973, to Vernon Rudolph.

Series 2: Administrative Records, contains those records which deal with the overall operation of the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Company and Corporation. This series is arranged into the following subseries:

Subseries 2.1: Correspondence, contains copies of letters to and from Vernon Rudolph and vendors, banks, Krispy Kreme stores and office personnel, local organizations, government agencies. The dates range from the 1930s through 1972. There is one original letter and its accompanying envelope from 1939. Subseries 2.2: Executive Records, contains the articles of incorporation, bylaws, minutes, and resolutions of the Board of Directors. The dates range from 1946-1977. This subseries also includes an organizational chart from the mid-1970s as well as an article of incorporation for Frozen Products, Inc., a subsidiary of the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation. There is also an Incorporation Plan from 1946 that includes a plan of organization, bills of sale, and a balance sheet. The folder marked "Miscellaneous," contains minutes from the first meeting of the incorporators in 1946 and a short note from 1952 concerning floor space at the Ivy Street plant. Subseries 2.3: Financial Records, ca. 1940-1996, includes annual and audit reports, gross sales statements for the company and the corporation as well as for doughnut mix. This subseries also contains balance sheets, a general accounting ledger, and operating reports. In the folder "Canceled Checks," there are signed checks by Vernon Rudolph as well as a handwritten listing of expenses that is titled "Personal Bank Records." There is also a prospectus dated from 1975 which is one year before the merger with Beatrice. Subseries 2.4: Legal Records, 1947-1982, deals mostly with trademark issues. It contains the correspondence and registration applications pertaining to trademark laws. Also included are the actual trademark registrations from all 50 states (since expired) as well as a list of expiration dates for the registrations. This subseries also contains correspondence between Krispy Kreme and Prudential Insurance Company concerning loans. There is also a folder "Miscellaneous Agreements and Contracts" that contains a lease agreement from 1957 and an accident claims agreement from 1955. Subseries 2.5: Personnel Records, dates range from the 1950s-1985. It includes information concerning employee benefits and manuals on selling doughnuts and running doughnut machines. Female employees are provided with guidelines in both a booklet, ca. 1963, titled "Salesgirl," and a plaque from the early 1960s that instructs them on appearance, retail manner, and attitude. Also contained in this subseries are award certificates given for years of service and a photograph of service award pins, jewelry, watches, and a clock. Other certificates were those for Associates and store operators certifying that they are fully capable and properly trained to operate a Krispy Kreme store. In the "Miscellaneous" folder, there are memorandums to employees, want-ad clippings, and a thank you card from the Corporation to its employees for 50 years of success. Subseries 2.6: Professional Associations, contains a certificate of membership into the US Chamber of Commerce, 1955. Subseries 2.7: Stock Records, deals with the purchase and sale of stocks from 1947-1975. There are copies of two agreements -- one regarding Krispy Kreme selling an employee stocks and the other concerning Krispy Kreme buying stocks in the Pinebrook Real Estate and Development Corporation. The folder "Stockholders," contains a 1950 end of year letter to stockholders and a brief report on a court case entitled "How Not to Sell Company Stock to Key Employees" from a 1949 newsletter, "Estate and Tax Letter." There is a stockholders ledger dated 1947-1975 which also has a list of stockholders attached to one page. Subseries 2.8: Testimonial Letters, are from customers and date from 1994-1997. In some cases, Krispy Kreme responses were attached with the original, in others they were not. All the letters are copies of the originals and are on acid-free paper. Subseries 2.9: Miscellaneous, contains drawings and pictures of the Corporation headquarters in Winston-Salem, NC, and of exterior store signage. It also includes logo designs from the 1960s through 1989, samples of stationery, a brochure for and a photograph of the Krispy Kreme plane, and a program for the 1994 Krispy Kreme Annual Conference. There is also a folder containing Holiday greeting cards from Krispy Kreme management and a program from their 1990 Christmas party. Series 3: Operational Records, contains those records which pertain to all aspects of the production and sale of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. This series has the following subseries:

Subseries 3.1: Advertising and Promotions, ca. 1947-1993, contains small and full page newspaper advertisements from 1947 through 1993 (including some undated advertisements), the mats and layouts that the retail stores used in their own in-store advertising, and information and correspondence concerning billboard advertising. This subseries also includes television commercial storyboards and an audience pre-test report for three of them. There is also materials on the different promotions Krispy Kreme used. The "Miscellaneous" folder contains a variety of indoor and outdoor advertisements. Subseries 3.2: Equipment and Engineering, is itself broken down into three categories: American Gas Association (AGA), Equipment Design, and Equipment Information. The "American Gas Association" section contains correspondence between the AGA and Krispy Kreme regarding AGA inspection of and seal of approval for Krispy Kreme-made equipment. "Equipment Design" contains the notes, sketches, test results, and photographs of various pieces of equipment designed and made by Krispy Kreme. "Equipment" information includes equipment brochures and booklets and more detailed information on the use of the equipment. Subseries 3.3: Franchises/Associates, ca. 1940s-1990s, contains literature to attract potential new franchisees as well as samples of franchise agreements. This subseries also includes photographs and press releases concerning store openings. These are located in three folders: "Grand Opening Summary," "Knoxville Grand Opening," and "Krispy Kreme Locations." There is also a videocassette that highlights Krispy Kreme's foray into New York City in 1996. Subseries 3.4: Fundraising, includes a variety of materials that concern Krispy Kreme's program of assisting local organizations in their fundraising efforts. The dates range from the 1940s-1990s. It contains brochures, ca. 1940s-1990s, which explain the fundraising plan and its benefits. There are also guides geared towards Krispy Kreme salespersons to help them present the plan to potential clients. In the "Miscellaneous" folder, there is a newspaper advertisement from September 1988 promoting the fundraising plan. There is also a photo collage done by Krispy Kreme Fundraising Representative, Sharon Craig, to commemorate a local parade in Memphis, TN (at the Elvis Presley Boulevard plant). Subseries 3.5: Marketing, contains a 1996 marketing standards manual and press kits from 1997. The marketing manual was directed to store operators to assist them in promoting and selling their products. The press kits were given to the Smithsonian when discussions concerning Krispy Kreme's donation to the museum began in the spring of 1997. Subseries 3.6: Packaging, ca. 1930s-1992, contains examples of the different packaging used by Krispy Kreme to market their food products and mixes. Also included are designs for new packaging. One example is for doughnuts done by Comet Products Inc. (of MA) in 1979. Four samples of pie packaging designs were created by Pike & Cassels, Inc. (of NC) in late 1991 and early 1992. In the "Miscellaneous" folder there are examples of other Krispy Kreme packaging. Subseries 3.7: Quality Control Laboratory, ca. 1959-1976, consists of two items. The first one, which was originally housed in a binder, is a notebook of information on lab procedures and on the chemical consistency and test concerning doughnut ingredients. This belonged to David Downs, Chief Chemist at Krispy Kreme. The second item is a "pictorial" prospectus of the entire Krispy Kreme operation -- departments, individual stores, products and packaging -- which belonged to the Laboratory. Subseries 3.8: Sales Records, ca. 1950s-1980s, contains materials that would assist both franchise managers and operators (with in-store sales) and route salespeople (in selling wholesale Krispy Kreme products to groceries, etc). It includes a Route Book, ca. late 1950s, that contained order information and belonged to Robah G. Hendrick, a Krispy Kreme salesman. There is also a sales order pad, ca. 1950s-early 1960s, used by a Krispy Kreme store in Memphis, TN. There are also two in-house catalogs -- in folders "Posters, inserts, cards..." and "Shelf talkers catalog" -- that contain items that can be ordered by managers and that are used to sell store products. Shelf talkers are signs posted near the merchandise or on grocery display shelves. They, like the posters, inserts, cards, are used to attract customers with specials and promotions. Samples of shelf talkers are included in this subseries. There is also a "Miscellaneous" folder which contains a Krispy Kreme coupon, a book of gift certificates, another example of a shelf talker sign, and brochures of different store displays. Subseries 3.9: Store Operations, ca. 1960s-1970s, deals primarily with items that are meant for store operators and mangers to help them in running a Krispy Kreme store. Two manuals -- Production and Extruded Doughnut manuals -- instruct managers in producing high quality products. Two other manuals -- Associates Operations and Branch Plant Managers' Manual -- discuss doughnut production, but also give directives and policies on other store issues, such as safety, sanitation, and personnel. The Branch Plant Managers' Manual also delves into the natural gas crisis in January 1977 and deals with advertising, security, and photo requests. This subseries also includes five 8"x6" laminated cards that contain doughnut recipe information and checklists of cleanup and sanitation procedures. There is also a plaque entitled "What is a Customer?" which explains to employees why a Krispy Kreme customer is so important. In the "Miscellaneous" folder there are two guides that advise on how to promote and sell items and a store/production area sign containing the store mission statement. [Also see Series 2: Administrative Records, Subseries E: Personnel, for a guide entitled "Salesgirl" which instructs the female Krispy Kreme employee on matters pertaining to dress and attitude.] Series 4: Newsletters, 1957-1998, includes, Krispy Kreme News, Krispy Kreme Management Circle, and Hot Doughnut News.

Krispy Kreme News, 1957-1998, is geared towards all members of the Krispy Kreme community -- management, operators and managers, and employees. Its articles discuss new store openings, Corporation news, community (or news-related) events, and provides instructions and reminders concerning store upkeep and sanitation. There are sections announcing upcoming retirements, congratulating outstanding employees, and honoring long service to Krispy Kreme. Also included are articles that do not necessarily pertain to Krispy Kreme, but, rather, add a human element to the newsletters, such as humorous stories, articles on birds, and tips on highway safety. Some articles of interest are a history of chocolate (September 1963), "You Can Improve Your Memory" (May 1967), "A Communist is a Rich Marxist" (July 1967), and a discussion on skirt lengths and their relation to economics (February 1970). [In addition, there are two early issues of Krispy Kreme News (May 9 and May 15, 1951) in a folder entitled "Brief Outline of the History of Krispy Kreme, 1977" which is located in Series 1: History of Krispy Kreme.] Also included in this subseries and relating to Krispy Kreme News are a subject index, a questionnaire form, and signed release letters. Krispy Kreme Management Circle, 1995-1997, is a quarterly newsletter geared towards Krispy Kreme management and leadership. The articles focus on product quality, marketing and promotions, and training. At the end of each issue, there is a ranking of stores in different sales categories, i.e., average customer purchases (in dollars), highest percentages of customers buying beverages with their food or buying a second dozen doughnuts. Hot Doughnut News, 1997, caters primarily to Krispy Kreme store operators, providing reports on stores and ideas for marketing. Series 5: Press Clippings, 1949-1998, contains articles and stories that cover the Corporation, its history, its founder and subsequent leaders, and its community programs and promotions. The bulk of the clippings are from newspapers with a scattering of magazine articles. The largest number clippings come from the Winston-Salem Journalof Winston-Salem, NC, where Krispy Kreme is based. All articles have been copied onto acid-free paper.

Some clippings have been separated from the rest. One folder, "Davey Allison," contains clippings concerning the sudden death of this popular NASCAR driver and Krispy Kreme spokesman, in 1993. The folder titled "Ralph Simpson and Associates, July-Sept 1995" contains articles and news briefs on Krispy Kreme and its competitors collected by a Winston-Salem public relations firm. Two other folders with clippings from the Simpson PR firm concern Krispy Kreme's donation into the Smithsonian in July 1997. The contents of these two folders are not on acid-free paper. "School Computers" documents the efforts of the Krispy Kreme Corporation to help distribute computers to schools across North Carolina. The "TV Monitoring Report, July 1997" folder does not contain any clippings, but includes a listing of news stories that appeared on television about the Krispy Kreme donation to the Smithsonian. Series 6: Photographs, ca. late 1930s through the mid 1990s, consists of black-and-white and color photographs and some negatives and transparencies. This series is divided into the following subseries:

Subseries 6.1: Corporate Staff, Associates, and Store Managers, ca. 1940s-early 1990s, is broken down into the following two categories: "Corporate Staff" and "Associates and Store Managers." Corporate Staff contains photographs of the officers of the corporation as well as members of the staff at the headquarters in Winston-Salem. Most are portrait shots with some group photos, e.g., the Board of Directors. There are also photographs of a 1974 retirement party for Mike Harding (Chairman of the Board and CEO) and Louise Joyner (editor of the Krispy Kreme News) and of a wedding cake made in 1990 for the wedding of headquarters accountant Cathy Rogers. The cake and the wedding were featured in the winter 1991 issue of Krispy Kreme News. [Also of interest are two photocopies of photographs -- of a house and a family -- located in Series 1: History of Krispy Kreme, Folder: "Vernon Rudolph."] The Associates and Store Managers photographs consist mostly of group portraits taken at their respective annual meetings: Associate Operators' Meeting and Store Managers' Conference. Also included are scenes of store manager training, which was mandatory for all new Krispy Kreme managers. Subseries 6.2: Corporate Headquarters, date from the late 1940s through the late 1980s. This subseries contains photographs of the General Offices, Equipment Department, Laboratory, Mix Department, and Warehouse. [Other photographs pertaining to these areas can be found in Series 6: Photographs, Subseries H: "Tour Given to Smithsonian Staff."] The General Offices photographs include exterior and interior views of the headquarters on Ivy Avenue. The Equipment Department photographs show various pieces of doughnut equipment as well as the designing, manufacturing, and assembling of said equipment by Krispy Kreme. [For more technical information on the different equipment, please refer to Series 3: Operational Records, Subseries B: "Equipment and Engineering."] The Quality Control Laboratory photographs consist of views that show the interior of the laboratory and of the chemists at work. There are also some images of test results of the doughnut mixes for quality and consistency. In addition, there are pictures of lab results of tests on glaze made with and without stabilizers. The Mix Department photographs contain views of the different stages of department operations. They also show the equipment used to prepare the dry doughnut mixes, which later are sent to the Krispy Kreme stores. The Warehouse photographs show bags of Krispy Kreme prepared mixes stacked in a large warehouse at the headquarters and waiting to be shipped. Subseries 6.3: Retail Shops and Plants, ca. 1937-1994, contains photographs of specific Krispy Kreme stores. They show the exterior and interior views of the shops including storefront, signage, retail, and production areas, as well as employees and customers. The bulk of the photos range from the 1950s through the 1970s. They are arranged by state, by city within the state, and then by street name within the city. Subseries 6.4: General Photographs, ca. 1940s-mid 1990s, concern unspecified Krispy Kreme shops and plants. They include views of store exteriors (storefront and signage) and interiors (production and retail areas and signage). The production area photographs show the various stages of the production of doughnuts, pies, and honeybuns. There are also photographs of customers, employees, and of students participating in the Krispy Kreme fundraising plan. The employee photographs consist of general in-store action and posed shots as well as views of employees receiving service awards for years of service. The fundraising photographs show students picking up boxes of doughnuts from Krispy Kreme shops or selling those boxes in an effort to raise money. This subseries also contains photographs of the trucks used by the Krispy Kreme stores throughout the years to deliver their products to groceries and other food stores. [A a set of press clippings that detail the use of Kripsy Kreme trucks in delivering school computers to North Carolina schools. These can be found in SERIES 5: Press Clippings, in the folder titled "School Computers, May-June 1993."] Subseries 6.5: Trade Shows, range in date from the 1950s through 1970s. This subseries includes photographs of Krispy Kreme displays at trade shows in the United States (Atlanta and St. Louis) and in Greece, Indonesia, Japan, and Pakistan. Subseries 6.6: Products and Packaging, ca. late 1940s-early 1990s, shows samples of various grocery store displays as well as photographs of doughnuts, fried pies, and honeybuns -- with and without packaging. There is also a folder that contains shots of Krispy Kreme coffee cups. Subseries 6.7: Advertising and Promotions, dates from 1965-1990s. The bulk of the photographs centers around shots of Davey Allison's race car. Allison was a Krispy Kreme spokesman for their Race to Daytona Sweepstakes in 1991. The other photographs consist of views of various advertising posters used in shops and grocery stores. There are also photographs that show Krispy Kreme advertising displays in airports. Subseries 6.8: Photo Albums, consist of six albums, all falling within the date range of the 1950s through the mid 1980s. The first album, "Exterior and Interior shots of Unspecified Retail Shops," contains photographs that date from the late 1970s-mid 1980s; these consist of exterior and interior views of various stores. The second album, entitled "Krispy Kreme Album," dates from 1962. A Christmas gift to Vernon Rudolph from the Corporate staff and associates, it contains photographs of the individual staff members and associates as well as group shots of the associates at annual meetings. There are also photographs of various shop storefronts. This album also includes exterior and interior views of the corporate headquarters. "Krispy Kreme Doughnut Co.," ca. 1950s-1960s, is the third album. It served as a pictorial marketing tool used to attract new associates and franchisees. It shows exterior views of the corporate headquarters, various storefronts, and views of a typical Krispy Kreme trade show display. There are also photographs showing retail doughnut production as well as images of packaging and final products. In addition, there is a price list of equipment and mixes. The "Plant and Production" album dates from the 1960s. It consists of photographs showing the different stages of doughnut production and the preceding steps involving the equipment and mix departments and laboratory. There are also exterior views of various retail shops and of the headquarters in Winston-Salem. The "Production Equipment Album," ca. 1960s-early 1970s, is similar to the "Krispy Kreme Doughnut Co." album with regards to the subject of the photographs. Additionally, there are photographs of the officers of the Corporation as well as images of advertising posters used in grocery stores. The sixth album, entitled "Social Gatherings Album," dates from 1951-1971. It contains photographs of female corporate staff members at various social gatherings, such as bridal and baby showers, picnics, birthdays, and Christmas parties. Subseries 6.9: Tour Given to Smithsonian Staff, contains photographs that were taken on May 28, 1997. The photos, taken by Smithsonian photographer Rich Strauss, depict a tour of the Corporation headquarters in Winston-Salem, NC. One highlight of interest is a view of the safe where the secret Krispy Kreme recipe is kept (located in the "Quality Control Laboratory" section of this subseries). The photographs are arranged according to the order of the tour. Series 7: AUDIOvisual Materials, remains unprocessed as of the date of this finding aid. This series consists of training films, videotapes, TV and radio commercials, and slide presentations. A rough inventory of these materials is provided in the container list.


  • Creation: 1932-2009


Language of Materials

Collection is in English. Some materials in Korean.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Biographical / Historical

The Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation started with a recipe, a Pontiac, a pack of cigarettes, and a dream. Add in hard work and a commitment to quality and consistency and what emerges is a company that is at the top of its field and beloved by its customers. It is an organization that has been innovative over the years, but has also remained true to its belief in making top quality products and ensuring excellent customer service. All of this has made Krispy Kreme doughnuts and its company a Southern icon.

The story of Krispy Kreme is the story of one man: Vernon Rudolph. Vernon Rudolph opened his first Krispy Kreme shop in the 1930s and from there built a corporation which he led until his death in the early 1970s. There is another part of the story and that is the continuation of the dream by Joseph McAleer. It was after some years under corporate food giant, Beatrice Foods, that McAleer, beginning in 1982, steered Krispy Kreme back to its traditional emphasis on excellent doughnuts as well as on a family atmosphere within the entire corporation.

The story begins on June 30, 1915 in Marshall County, Kentucky with the birth of Vernon Carver Rudolph. He was the eldest son of Rethie Nimmo Rudolph (mother) and Plumie Harrison Rudolph (father) and had a strict, but loving, upbringing. Vernon Rudolph did well in school, both academically and athletically. He also found time to work in his father's general store as well as helping his neighbors with odd jobs.

After graduating from high school, Rudolph then began his life's work when he went to work for his uncle, Ishmael Armstrong. It seems Armstrong bought a doughnut shop -- along with the assets, name, and recipe -- from a Frenchman from New Orleans, Joe LeBeau. So in 1933, Rudolph began selling the yeast-based doughnuts door to door for the Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop in Paducah, Kentucky. Not only did Rudolph sell doughnuts, he took part in producing them, thereby giving him an all-around experience in the doughnut business.

The economic depression that rocked the country also affected the shop. Armstrong decided to move from Paducah to the much bigger Nashville, Tennessee, hoping that business would be better there. Vernon Rudolph went with him to the new location, hoping for the same. But after trying, Armstrong, in 1935, decided to sell the shop and return to Kentucky. Rudolph wanted to buy it, but unfortunately did not have the money. However, his father -- whose general store had closed and who was working for the doughnut shop as a salesman -- stepped in. He borrowed the money and soon after Krispy Kreme was operating under new ownership. It was also at this time that one of Rudolph's younger brothers, Lewis, joined the family business.

The shop was doing well, enough so that in 1936 Rudolph's father opened another shop in Charleston, West Virginia. Awhile later, a third shop opened in Atlanta, Georgia. While this growth was occurring, Vernon Rudolph still wanted to own his own Krispy Kreme store. In the summer of 1937, he left Nashville with two friends in their new 1936 Pontiac and $200. Carrying start-up doughnut equipment the three young men set out towards an unknown destination, but with a known dream.

Louise Skillman Joyner, Krispy Kreme News editor, recounts how Rudolph and his friends settled on Winston-Salem, North Carolina as the location for their shop.

After some disappointments in looking for a suitable location, Vernon Rudolph, standing on a street corner in Peoria, [Illinois], one evening, wondered what the next move should be. Rents were quite high in that section of the country and the trio was running out of money. He took a pack of Camel cigarettes from his pocket and noticed that they were manufactured in Winston-Salem, N.C. "Why not Winston-Salem?" he thought, "A town with a company producing a nationally advertised product has to be a good bet." So off across the mountains to North Carolina they went.

With only $25 left, they arrived in Winston-Salem. Using that money to rent a space on Main Street and then getting the ingredients and some equipment on credit (which they paid back promptly), the three men began making yeast doughnuts. That day was July 13, 1937. Vernon Rudolph believed in producing only doughnuts of high quality and those were the only ones that were ever sold. That belief (as well as the mouth-watering doughnuts) endeared them to the people of Winston-Salem. What also caught their eye (and their taste buds) was the doughnut production that occurred in the store's front window and the free samples given away in the evenings.

Krispy Kreme at this time was primarily a wholesale enterprise. Using trucks to deliver the products, Rudolph was able to sell doughnuts throughout the area. But soon the wonderful aroma that came from the shop caused passersby to ask for doughnuts right there on the spot. This led to the beginning of Krispy Kreme's retail operations.

In the midst of all this, Rudolph met and married an Atlanta woman, Ruth Ayers, in 1939. This family increased by one in 1943 when the Rudolphs adopted a baby girl, whom they named Patricia Ann. Sadly, Ruth Ayers Rudolph was killed in an automobile accident in Orangeburg, South Carolina in 1944.

The number of Krispy Kreme stores continued to grow in the years that followed. But instead of Rudolph owning all of them outright, he entered into partnerships or into associate (franchise) relationships. The arrangements gave the operators of these particular shops that use of the Krispy Kreme name, recipe, and later the ingredients. But more importantly, they had to agree to adhere to the Krispy Kreme philosophy of producing only the highest quality doughnuts. In those early years, the business was truly family-oriented. This atmosphere continued with these associate owners.

In 1946, Rudolph began thinking about consolidating all the Krispy Kreme resources together under a corporation. This umbrella, he believed, would enable Krispy Kreme to grow further and also give the shops a sense of uniformity. So on October 1, 1946 a corporation named the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Company was formed. Less than a year later, on June 3, 1947, a new corporation, the Krispy Kreme Corporation, was incorporated. The Company concerned itself with individual store operations, while the corporation took care of producing dry mixes used by the shops. Vernon Rudolph served as President and Chairman of the Board.

It was also in 1946 that Rudolph married again -- to Lorraine Flynt of Winston-Salem. Their family of three grew over the years to include Vernon Carver Jr., Sanford, Curtis, and Beverly.

The formation of the corporation was followed by the creation of three important departments within Krispy Kreme: the Mix Department, the Laboratory, and the Equipment Department. Each had an essential role in the overall success of the company. The Mix Department has grown since its creation in 1948. Its primary mission: to mix, in bulk, the key ingredients needed by the shops to make doughnuts -- both yeast- and cake-doughnuts -- but also newly added products -- fried pies and honeybuns. By providing these mixes, Krispy Kreme was able to ensure that all stores made the same excellent products.

The Laboratory was created in 1949. Vernon Rudolph's beliefs in top quality and uniformity were put in action. The Laboratory tested ingredients that were in the prepared mixes and experimented with others to see if perhaps a new ingredient would make a great product better.

Rudolph started the Equipment Department because Krispy Kreme's main supplier of yeast doughnut machines, the Doughnut Corporation of America, decided to enter the retail doughnut business itself. So with the help of consultants and staffed with engineers and machinists, the Equipment Department began manufacturing its own equipment in 1949.

The push towards automation that swept the nation also affected Krispy Kreme. One piece of equipment that illustrates this is the Ring King Junior. Designed for cake doughnut production and taking up only seven square feet, the Ring King Junior cut, fried, turned, and cooled about 30 to 75 dozen per hour. How different from the early days of Krispy Kreme when everything had to be done by hand -- measuring, cutting, frying. The Ring King not only saved space and time, but also ingredients used. And it gave a uniformity to the doughnuts produced -- something Vernon Rudolph liked very much.

Over the years, Krispy Kreme has followed a philosophy of excellent quality and customer service. It recognizes the importance of the customer -- because without him or her there would be no reason to be in business. Along with giving their customers the best, getting involved in the community is another way Krispy Kreme has endeared itself to them. They do this by primarily helping area schools raise money for equipment, uniforms, trips, etc. In order to accomplish its goals, the company needs hard-working and dependable people. Krispy Kreme recognizes the value of its employees. The family atmosphere of those early days has continued.

Vernon Rudolph believed in that philosophy and always strove to make Krispy Kreme the best in the doughnut business. His death on August 16, 1973, left a large void and the years immediately afterwards were tough. Then, in 1976, Krispy Kreme merged with corporate giant Beatrice Foods Company of Chicago. It was still headquartered in Winston-Salem and continued its operations, but as a subsidiary.

For Beatrice, showing a profit was extremely important. To help its Krispy Kreme division, Beatrice encouraged additions to the menu and substitutions of ingredients in the doughnut mixes. This did not appeal to long-time Krispy Kreme associates, but unfortunately there was not much that could be done at that time.

Beatrice's association with Krispy Kreme was not as profitable as it had hoped it would be. So in 1981, the food corporation decided to sell its subsidiary. One Krispy Kreme associate saw this as an opportunity to bring the doughnut company back to the basic traditions upon which it had built a successful enterprise. The associate, Joseph A. McAleer, Sr., had been with the company for almost thirty years when this situation arose. An Alabama native, he went to work for the company in 1951 after he saw an advertisement in the Mobile Press Register for qualified people to join a profitable organization -- the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation. After meeting with Vernon Rudolph, McAleer worked at the Pensacola, Florida store for $1 per hour in order to learn all aspects of a shop's operations. Rudolph had initially wanted McAleer to work for no pay, but with a family to care for, McAleer could not do this and so the $1 an hour agreement was arranged.

McAleer worked 120 hour weeks for over a year. This experience enabled him, in 1953, to start a shop of his own, in Pritchard, Alabama, a suburb of Mobile. His first effort there was not a success -- due to a poor location. He opened another shop in 1956 -- this time off of a busy street in Mobile -- and this time was successful. Over the next 17 years, McAleer opened up other Krispy Kreme shops in Alabama and Mississippi and all promised to provide the highest quality product and the best service. And continuing the family-oriented tradition, members of his immediate family worked in the different shops.

The death of Vernon Rudolph and Beatrice's purchase of Krispy Kreme seemed to send the doughnut company in a new direction -- one not everyone, including McAleer, liked. When Beatrice wanted to sell Krispy Kreme, McAleer talked with his fellow associates and those with ties to the company -- people, like him, who had a stake in Krispy Kreme's success -- and through his efforts was able to form a group of investors. In 1982, the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation had new owners.

These new owners, though, saw Krispy Kreme as a specialty-type of operation with a certain uniqueness and familial closeness and one which needed to concentrate on its basic foundation. That is, going to back to Vernon Rudolph's philosophy of top quality and top service as well as focusing on people, both customers and employees. They are beliefs and values that have proven successful and have helped Krispy Kreme grow from a small doughnut shop in Winston-Salem to a large corporation that still makes the same much-loved doughnut.


16.5 Cubic Feet (40 boxes, 2 oversized folders)


Correspondence, administrative records, operational records, company newsletters, news clippings, photographs, photograph albums, and audio-visual materials.

Custodial History

Donated July 17, 1997, by the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation. Additional items donated July 17, 1997, by V. Carver Rudolph and on August 6, 1997, by Steve Cochran.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated to the National Museum of American History, Archives Center on July 17, 1997, by the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation. Additional items were donated on July 17, 1997, by V. Carver Rudolph and on August 6, 1997, by Steve Cochran.

Related Materials

There is a folder of duplicate Krispy Kreme material in Archives Center collection #439, the Sally L. Steinberg Collection of Doughnut Ephemera. The Archives Center also contains collection #662, two scrapbooks from the Doughnut Corporation of America. Artifacts donated by the Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corporation to the National Museum of American History are located in the Division of Cultural History and the Division of the History of Technology.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Juliette Arai, October 1998.

Guide to the Krispy Kreme Corporation Records NMAH.AC.0594
Juliette Arai
October 1998
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in: English, Latin script.

Revision Statements

  • 2001; 2004: Revised by Wendy Shay and Franklin A. Robinson, Jr.

Repository Details

Part of the Allen Doe Research Center Repository