Krispy Kreme was founded by Vernon Rudolph when he purchased a donut shop in Paducah, Kentucky along with a secret recipe for yeast-raised donuts in 1933. The secret recipe orginally came from a French chef.
Rudolph originally delivered the donuts by bicycle.
The company then became a family business when it moved to Nashville and other family members joined to help meet the growing customer demand.
In 1937 Rudolph sold his interest in the business and opened a new doughnut shop in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This new company sold directly to supermarkets as well as to individuals.
The company was named Krispy Kreme.
Krispy Kreme began to expand in the 1950’s and by the 1960’s the company was known throughout the Southeast.
In 1976 Krispy Kreme was acquired by Beatrice Foods of Chicago and became a wholly-owned subsidiary.
Krispy Kreme has been accused of “channel stuffing” by franchisees, whose stores reportedly “received twice their regular shipments in the final weeks of a quarter so that headquarters could make its numbers”. The company was also dogged by questionable transactions and self-dealing accusations over the buybacks of franchisees, including those operated by company insiders.
A report released in August 2005 singled out then-CEO Livengood and then-COO John W. Tate to blame for the accounting scandals although it did not find that the executives committed intentional fraud.
In May 2016, JAB Beech, a German investment firm, announced it made an offer to purchase the company for $1.35 billion over the following two months that would make the company privately owned. The transaction closed on July 27, 2016, and the company went private.
Krispy Kreme today operates as a branded retailer and wholesaler of doughnuts, bevarages, treats, and packages sweets. The company owns and operates about 1400 stores in 20 countries.
The company maintains a corporate office in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.