Four weeks from now, we will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 spaceship landing on the Moon, but Krispy Kreme is getting an early start on the celebrations. The doughnut chain is introducing Original Filled Doughnuts, which means that the brand’s Original Glazed doughnuts will for the first time be filled with “kreme.” Innovation!
And today only (Saturday, June 22), you can get one for free at participating locations.
Here’s why this free donut offer matters.
When President John F. Kennedy made his 1961 speech before Congress, stating the goal that astronauts from the United States would reach the Moon and return safely by the end of the 1960s, the mission’s success was far from a sure thing. We didn’t know, for instance, if people’s brains would work properly in space. We didn’t know if the Russians, who ruled the heavens at that time and weren’t afraid to troll the USA about it, would beat the Americans to this kind of filled-doughnut technology. We needed a computer that could change the world, one not that far from the size of a doughnut box that could set the direction for modern computing, but it would need to be filled with hand-stitched computer code like a quilt rather than “kreme.” Neither Charles Stark Draper (the scientist who wanted to fly to the Moon even though he looked more than a little familiar with Krispy Kreme’s neon “Hot Now” light) nor Krispy Kreme founder Vernon Rudolph knew how to get where we ultimately would need to go as a species.
In a world where a missing “hyphen“—or hydrogenated soybean oil—can produce catastrophic results, putting kreme in an Original Glazed, dare I say, might be the hardest work Krispy Kreme has ever done.
Just like the Apollo 11 mission itself, Krispy Kreme likely cycled through a lot of bad ideas to get to this good one. Should convicts make the Original Filled doughnuts, just in case Krispy Kreme couldn’t find anyone else to make them? Should the bakers lower the doughnuts into the fryer with a rope, a design decision that could have ruined the doughnuts’ perfect glaze? With the electronic beep of the fryer ringing in everyone’s ears, it’s no wonder that poll after poll has revealed that Americans weren’t sure if the whole thing was worth the expense.
In 1961, Krispy Kreme was a regional chain in the Southern U.S., operating in 12 states. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Krispy Kreme employees likely enjoyed their cigarettes, even if they had to give them up during a baking mission. Cape Crueller certainly didn’t have the capability to stay in contact with these celestial confections via a high-speed global data network. Krispy Kremes were sold as fundraisers, at intersections by cheerleading groups and fire companies. The company had always prided itself on being the king of consistency, but it didn’t have an Original Filled donut that could scare NASA. “Baking innovation” was a joke back then, just like “software engineering.”
Krispy Kreme comes by this promotion honestly: It served doughnuts in the VIP grandstand during the Apollo 11 launch, powering the spectators. So today’s the day to get one Original Filled doughnut for free at participating locations. Enjoy it with a glass of Tang. Chocolate or vanilla only, though. Alas, there’s no green cheese flavor.
Check out the full list of participating Krispy Kreme shops here.