Free doughnuts draw huge and hungry crowd

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- When people stand in long lines for hours on end, it tends to be for something like a major concert or a blockbuster movie.

But in Jacksonville's Arlington neighborhood early Tuesday morning, it was a baked good that had hundreds of folks in a mouth watering frenzy.

Krispy Kreme marked the grand opening of its fourth location in the city at 7612 Merrill Road. The popular franchise is known for its wide variety of hot doughnuts and treats.

The baked goods are in such high demand that hundreds of people often line up hours or days before a new store even opens.

"We've been stalking the building ever since they said they were going to come. We live just down the road," said Tovia Smith of Jacksonville.

Smith was the first person in line at the new Arlington location. Her husband was right behind her in the number two spot.

They secured their prime locations by arriving at 11 p.m. Monday.

"It's our birthday month. She wanted to do something different, something we had not done before. At first I thought she was not serious," said Kerry Smith.

The couple was joined by approximately 200 other doughnut fanatics, including a dedicated mother and daughter duo, who has experience at these long, overnight waits.

Laura Riggs of Jacksonville said, "We love Krispy Kreme. She wanted to spend the night at the opening on Cassat Avenue, and she enjoyed it so much. She begged me to do it again."

Riggs' daughter, Jenna, said, "My favorite doughnut is the original glazed because they're so hot and squishy."

Krispy Kreme guaranteed a dozen free doughnuts a month for a year to the first 100 people in line.

Latrelle Goodyin of Jacksonville came with hopes of taking her dozen to impress her teacher at school. "I'm taking them to class and giving them to my teacher to say I hung out at Krispy Kreme representing Virginia College."

But for the first customer, Smith, the deal was free doughnuts every week for year.

She told First Coast News she and her husband will eat their fair share, but plan on giving away as many as possible to the homeless and other people in need.

"The first thing we are going to do today is get our box and find some homeless person and give it to them," she said.

It's a sweet gesture that's capping off two birthdays they'll never forget.

"Someday we can say we did it together," Smith said.

Tuesday's grand opening also drew controversy. Environmental and consumer advocates rallied outside the store to alert customers about a cooking ingredient called palm oil.

They claimed Krispy Kreme obtains the oil by using child and slave labor and destroying rain forests.

The company told First Coast News its efforts are underway to use palm oil from sustainable sources for its U.S. locations.

Locations are set to open on 103rd St. and University St. by the end of the year.


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