When Krispy Kreme opened its first outlet in Dublin, Ireland at the end of September, the 24/7, drive-thru outlet was besieged by queues, night and day. Footage shared widely online showed cars beeping their horns as they joined the drive-thru queue after 11pm on opening night. The city’s sugar rush made national and international news. Two weeks on, the queues show no sign of relenting but there might be a simple explanation for the frenzy.
The North Carolina-based doughnut chain opened its first Irish branch on 26 September amid giddy hysteria. Hundreds of people queued both day and night to get their hands on the sweet treats in the Dublin suburb of Blanchardstown. As noise levels increased, residents complained to the local council. The New York Post shared a video of the all-night queues with the headline: “24-hour drive-thru descends into absolute chaos.” One local told the Irish Independent, “Every night the queue for doughnuts is unbelievable – lights, noises, pollution and horns. All streets blocked and all cars honking at once. All night, every night.”
Let the sweet aroma of Krispy Kreme fill the Blanchardstown air#TheOGishere #NewStoreOpen pic.twitter.com/pljUyjzwJH
— Krispy Kreme Ireland (@KrispyKremeIRL) September 26, 2018
One customer, Amanda McDonough, told Lonely Planet that she believes it’s just a bit of fun and people care about the experience above anything else. “I think Irish people love the craic, the energy and buzz of it,” she said. When the hype became a talking point in the media, she believes people wanted to be part of the conversation. Even though Amanda explains she’s not a fan of doughnuts, she found herself queuing with her two sons, Tom and James, shortly after opening night. “I’m not a sweet person but I was dying to get up there to be involved. I think people just want to put it on their Instagram or Snapchat stories and chat about it.”
Phillip Byrne agrees: “When people see the fuss and hype on social media they think, ‘We’ll go up for the laugh and see what it’s all about’ and it builds from there. It’s a bit of harmless fun.” While Sharon Lynskey, a producer for national radio station TodayFM, believes that the lure is nostalgic. “I think a lot of Irish people know Krispy Kreme from holidays abroad and they’re mad to try it out for themselves.”
Krispy Kreme isn’t the first doughnut shop in Dublin. In fact, just last year headlines across various media outlets cried out that Dublin had “reached peak doughnut” with at least 20 new doughnut shops opening in recent years. Locals will tell you it’s almost impossible to walk for five minutes through the city centre without coming across a glazed treat.
Before the current craze kicked off, doughnuts in Ireland were of the humble jam variety that you could only find in supermarkets or old-school bakeries. The oldest dedicated doughnut seller, The Rolling Donut, operated from a tiny kiosk on Dublin’s O’Connell Street. It didn’t have much competition since its opening in 1978, apart from when Dunkin’ Donuts made a brief appearance in Dublin in the 1990s. Then, in 2015, the market exploded. Upscale doughnut shops, with fancy toppings and prices to match, started to appear across the city and doughnuts could be found everywhere, from local convenience stores to hipster cafes.
Despite the competition in the market, two weeks after Krispy Kreme’s grand opening, the throngs are still going strong. Dozens of cars are still queuing for the drive-thru, right up until closing time. “I had thought [the hype] would have died down by now but there was still a 40-minute queue in the drive-thru yesterday, which is mad,” said Sharon.
(2/3) We’re working with Fingal County Council, Blanchardstown Centre Management, local Garda Traffic Corp and Community Liaison with regard to finding a long term solution that works for everyone.
— Krispy Kreme Ireland (@KrispyKremeIRL) October 3, 2018
Krispy Kreme, however, has heeded complaints from its neighbours and reduced its opening hours to 6am and 11.30pm. It’s now working with the local council and gardai (police) to find a long-term solution that keeps everyone happy. “We anticipated a warm welcome for Krispy Kreme in Ireland and have long wanted to open a store here but the response has been way ahead of our most optimistic expectations,” a spokesperson said.
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