Hearing the news that Krispy Kreme doughnuts will now be available in 160 McDonald's restaurants in Kentucky, I decided to do a deep dive into one of its Kentucky stores.

Krispy Kreme -- a Brand as Old as It Is Popular

In 1991, I was visiting a good friend in Louisville. During the visit, he took me to Krispy Kreme Doughnuts on Bardstown Road just off the Watterson Expressway. It looked just as old then as it does now.

Google Street View
Google Street View

But finding out how old that Krispy Kreme is has become quite a daunting task. I have searched every way I know how and can't find it.

However, while I was looking I did learn that the Krispy Kreme company is based in North Carolina and that the first store was located in Winston-Salem; it opened in 1937.

Certainly, Krispy Kreme is a beloved empire of goodness, and North Carolina has every right to be proud of one of its biggest native corporations. But nowhere in that video was there any mention of Kentucky. And that's where I will step in.

It's Based in North Carolina, But Does Krispy Kreme Have Kentucky Origins?

While the first Krispy Kreme stored opened in 1937, its roots go back a bit farther into the EARLY 1930s. A barge cook named Joe LeBoeuf, a native Louisianian, was transferred to Paducah, and he brought three of this best dishes with him. One of them was a light, fluffy doughnut. Unconfirmed reports (by many people, however) indicate a grocer named Ishmael Armstrong purchased the recipe from LeBoeuf. In fact, one account says the man's name was Joe LeBeau, but no one by the name shows up in any records.

Was the Original Krispy Kreme Sold or Was It a Gift?

Armstrong had a nephew named Vernon Rudolph. It was Vernon who sort of drifted into running what would eventually become the lucrative Krispy Kreme business and then, of course, empire after they moved to North Carolina. Carver Rudolph, Vernon's son, did extensive research about his family's history with the iconic doughnut and, according to the North Carolina Collection, was quoted as saying this:

LeBoeuf worked as a cook on a barge on the Ohio river and was famous for three things–his flapjacks, his coconut cakes, and his light and fluffy doughnuts. Uncle Ishmael probably admired the recipe…and LeBoeuf would have been flattered to share it…no secret transactions involved.

It's that last part that jumps out. The younger Rudolph found LeBoeuf's family--his widow and daughters--in 2000 and spoke to them about this supposed transaction. They confirmed Carver's belief:

They agreed that Joe, who continued to make his doughnuts at home long after he had moved on from the barge cook trade, would never have charged any money for his closely held recipe.

Today, there's nothing quite like a Krispy Kreme FRESH OFF THE BAKING RACK.

Yep, I'm a purist. If they've sitting out for even a little while, I don't want them. But when that red light is on? Look out.

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