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America has a sweet celebration: Krispy Kreme doughnuts

July 17, 1997 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Travel through just about any Southern city, and it’s hard to miss the green, white and red Krispy Kreme sign promising ethereal doughnuts coated in a crunchy, sweet glaze.

As of Thursday, Krispy Kreme, a sweet staple of Southern culture, became an official part of American history: the latest inductee into the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

``Just the mention of Krispy Kreme doughnuts washes a flood of memories,″ said John Fleckner, the archivist who compiled the exhibit.

``Clearly the Krispy Kreme experience does have a special place for generations of customers, and the collections donated here today will help us understand their story.″

Scott Livengood, president of Krispy Kreme Doughnut Corp., was at the museum for the signover ceremony, complete with complimentary Original Glazed doughnuts.

Vernon Rudolph founded the operation in 1937 as a delivery-only business in Winston-Salem, N.C., using a recipe bought from Frenchman Joe LeBeau in Paducah, Ky. The chain has grown to 125 stores in 17 states, selling an estimated 1.3 billion doughnuts a year, almost 3 1/2 million a day.

But it’s more than the doughnuts, as addictive as potato chips, that won Krispy Kreme its place at the Smithsonian. More important than its culinary contribution is what Krispy Kreme represents to millions of people who grew up eating them.

``Krispy Kreme was founded in the South, and the stores grew up in the South,″ said Jack McAleer, the company’s executive vice president. ``Our history developed and grew in the Southeast, and so as you look at the documents, the newsletter, they tell the story.″

When the company learned of the Smithsonian’s interest early this year, McAleer said, former and current employees and store owners were contacted to cull any artifacts they might have stashed away.

The collective effort turned up a contraption called the Ring King Junior doughnut-making machine, still used in a few Krispy Kreme stores, uniforms of salesgirls and several dozen old photos and newsletters. Missing, however, is Krispy Kreme’s secret recipe uses, stashed in a vault in North Carolina.

The Smithsonian will display a handful of the materials for about a month before placing them for research into its Archives Center.

The artifacts weave a portrait of the South where women _ always called ``salesgirls″ _ wearing Krispy Kreme headbands and crisp, white, nurse-like uniforms serve smooth-glazed donuts and hot coffee.

Scores of black and white photographs catalog the progression of tastes over the decades in the cars parked outside the shops’ all-glass storefronts and the clothes customers wore as they waited in line to get their morning infusion of sugar.

A 1960s memo is on display proclaiming ``To All Female Employees″ _ salesgirls _ that they must wear low-heeled white shoes and full-length slips under their uniforms and must keep their hair and nails tidy.

Tacked on at the bottom, the memo asks if the ladies wouldn’t mind, would they please help keep the bathrooms clean.