This Southern delight's origins reach back to 1933, when a man named Ishmael Armstrong bought the Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop in Paducah, Ky., from Joe LeBeau, a Frenchman from New Orleans. The purchase included the shop's secret doughnut recipe, which Armstrong -- and later his nephew, Vernon Rudolph, who grew the business into the one we know today -- kept to themselves. More than 70 years later, that recipe is still under wraps, locked in a safe at company headquarters in Winston-Salem, N.C., where only a handful of employees have access to it [sources: Arai, Shay and Robinson, FoxNews].
It isn't too hard to figure the recipe out, especially if you take a peek at the ingredients listed on the dry doughnut mix (also not difficult -- just ask the company). What makes the doughnuts so popular isn't strictly their ingredients, but the ability to purchase the fresh finished product. In the 1950s the company first created the process that allows the light doughnuts to roll off the assembly line, nice and warm, into your waiting hands. It took a while to perfect, but this process (also a secret) is more critical to the chain's success than the recipe itself [source: WREG].