Common Ground: Hard work and hot doughnuts

“They’re hot!” I screamed, and pulled into the parking lot of the Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop on Plank Road.

At the sight of the red and orange light flashing “hot,” I bounced in my seat, a lot like I did as a young girl during my family’s occasional outings to the shop for those “melt-in-your-mouth” glazed doughnuts.

“Mommy, I’ve never seen you get this excited,” my 9-year-old son says in the parking lot.

“It’s Krispy Kreme,” I tell him. “I can’t help it.”

I grew up in north Baton Rouge near the Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop, probably one of the few spots in town to buy a hot chocolate, eat a pastry and sit down, long before Starbucks and CC’s Coffee House made their mark.

The old doughnut shop was a favorite place for school children and their parents. Bring in your report card and you got free doughnuts for making As, or do a doughnut fundraiser and earn money for your school and win a prize.

It’s no surprise that the nostalgia of Krispy Kreme has kept customers coming back for 75 years, ever since the company’s inception in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Competition is stiff these days. Yogurt and pastry shops and coffee shops are offering low-fat desserts and skinny lattes and drinks.

Dieting trends are even blamed for decreased doughnut sales in years past.

When Krispy Kreme donut sales plummeted during the recession, company officials blamed it on popular low-carbohydrate dieting trends that frowned on high-carb foods, including doughnuts.

In the past four years, Krispy Kreme has made a stock market comeback, and doughnut sales have risen considerably in the past four years, according to Market Watch.

I’m sure my family and our neighbors have helped turn that trend around, too. As we pulled into the doughnut shop parking lot, I pulled three report cards from my van and handed them to my children.

We stood in line behind a middle-aged man who asked the cashier for the day’s special. “None, unless you buy it through a school fundraiser,” the woman told him.

He shook his head and placed his order for a dozen doughnuts, stepped to the side and waited for the woman to pull hot doughnuts from an assembly line.

My children walked to the counter and placed their report cards in the cashier’s hand.

“Since you’ve all done so well, I’m going to give you six doughnuts a piece,” she told them.

The man waiting beside us interjected, “Maybe I need to go back to school.”

Not long after the doughnut shop visit, my children brought home Krispy Kreme doughnut sales forms and headed out to their aunts, uncles and grandparents’ homes during the Thanksgiving break.

The competition got so stiff that my 7-year-old daughter and my 9-year-old son launched a sales competition on our block to see who could sell the most doughnuts. My daughter outsold my son, largely because she started working on her sales to neighbors about a half hour earlier than her brother.

Regardless, they’ve learned that there is more to he pastry than meets the eye. Hot doughnuts can lead to hard work, earning rewards and a taste of entrepreneurship.

Chante Dionne Warren is a freelance writer. She can be reached at