The Power of Doughnuts
A few weeks ago, I participated in a personally unprecedented event: I waited in line for a doughnut. This was no ordinary doughnut, however; This was a Krispy Kreme doughnut.
In Japan, and it particular, Tokyo, things new and stylish become fast trends. Like all big cities across the globe, no one wants to be left embarrassed for not knowing “what’s hot”, especially in gastronomical terms. Ice cream chain, Cold Stone exploded with popularity in the US, and when it arrived on Roppongi soil in 2005, Tokyoites made sure to be part of the “in” crowd. Now, over a year later, Cold Stone has expanded to over 11 stores throughout Japan (two shops open on March 15th), and it still maintains its fashionableness and long lines.
Krispy Kreme is no different. Having opened its first store in Japan, in Tokyo, on December 15th, 2006, Tokyoites rushed out to be one of the first to experience these super sweet treats (You Tube video of lines). “There’s no way I’ll be a part of that insanity,” I told myself. I broke that oath.
These types of occurrences are not just commonplace trips to the store. In Japan, these are events. By my crude calculations, over 90 percent of the people in line were couples. The remaining ten percent were groups of friends ready to be hip. So a trip to Krispy Kreme had gone from everyday doughnut indulgence, to a date or an outing with friends. What else could justify waiting 45 minutes in line for a doughnut that costs between 150 to 170 yen, when Mr. Donuts is cheaper and seemingly on every corner without any lines to wait through?
For me it was a few factors that had me break my promise. The main reason: Boston Creme. Yes, Krispy Kreme has them and you can’t get them anywhere else in Japan. The ridiculousness of the situation also made it something worth sitting through. As previously mentioned, I wasn’t just in line for a doughnut; I was part of history and part of Tokyo’s latest trend. I might even go as far as to say that I was being hip. Well, maybe that’s going too far.
Believe it or not though, the experience was exciting. People were bustling with energy. They were talking and smiling with an aura almost unseen in Tokyo. Watching the doughnuts being made was fascinating to some, but definitely traumatic to me. Dough was a buoy, floating on a sea of oil, waiting to be doused with copious amounts of sugar frosting–an Atkin’s dieter’s nightmare. But my friend and I were steadfast, determined to get our doughnuts. While in line, worker’s passed out free honey glazed doughnuts to those waiting. They were hot and good but oh, so bad for you.
Once inside, I realized that my body could handle no more than two more of those diabetes specials, so I got my Boston Creme and a jelly-filled, with a coffee to provide balance. Though the prices are high and the wait is long, it was a fun overall experience. And the coffee was pretty good too. If you are ever in the Shinjuku area, with nothing to do, I recommend checking out Krispy Kreme. It’s something you can talk about later.