December 27, 2008

Krafty Krispy Kreme

For the uninitiated, the popularity of Krispy Kreme donuts in Japan can be baffling. I'm sure they're much loved in America, but "popular" is too mild a word to describe the situation here. The first Krispy Kreme opened in Shinjuku in December 2006, and in a crafty move, the company has resisted a Starbucks-style domination. Playing the oldest rule in the book, they have added only three more stores in Tokyo since, and yes, people are still wanting more.
(Donuts are rotated up and down with these chain pulleys, keeping them warm.)
Two years later, I've yet to walk past a Krispy Kreme that didn't have a line of customers winding all around the store, quite easily extending outside. Such a feat it is to actually make it to the register, those who do tend to buy donuts by the dozen, sharing them with family or workplace colleagues. You can spot these people a mile away, gingerly carrying a large rectangular box and attracting glances of envy.

I can easily reel off these observations but having never tasted one for myself, I couldn't tell you whether the craze is warranted. Yet tonight I found myself in line at the Krispy Kreme in Yurakucho, tagging along with a friend and stubbornly refusing to buy anything when an employee handed me a glazed donut wrapped in paper, still very warm. It seems they hand them out to customers to placate them during the long wait. I still haven't tried it, but I'm told they are ideal after eight seconds in the microwave.

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