Drive-Thru Diary: McDonald's Adds Krispy Kreme Doughnuts To Its Menu

CALIFORNIA — Hello fellow fast food fanatics! Welcome to the first installment of Patch’s Drive-Thu Diary.

In this periodic column, I’ll take you on a journey of all that’s delicious, noteworthy and downright weird in the world of fast food, making sure to keep you abreast of all the latest developments in California’s quick-bite dining scene.

Whether for an occasional treat or regular sustenance, many of us turn to drive-thrus, fast-casual chains and convenience stores. In fact, one U.S. government study found that over 36 percent of adults consumed fast food on a given day.

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And fast food is as much a part of Golden State culture as sunshine and Hollywood. The state’s official tourism organization dubs California “the birthplace of fast food” — you can thank California for McDonalds, In-N-Out, Taco Bell, Del Taco, Jack in the Box and Panda Express.

I’m not your doctor, but it would be remiss of me not to mention that a balanced diet is important! So as I highlight the latest indulgences, remember to eat your veggies, too.

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But before I do that, a little about me: My name is Chris Lindahl, I live in Los Angeles, and I’m always thinking about my next meal.

Though I’ve been working in journalism for a decade, my roots are in fast food. In my Massachusetts hometown, you had two picks for a first job: a supermarket or Dunkin’ Donuts. I chose the latter, so I know just as much about the frenzy of trying to clear a long, Saturday morning drive-thru line as I do the frustration of being stuck in it.

Without further ado, here’s what’s happening in fast food:

McDonald’s, Krispy Kreme and local doughnut cultures

This week, a Southern-born sweetheart and SoCal native announced an unusual union: Krispy Kreme doughnuts will (eventually) be available at McDonald’s locations nationwide.

And those Original Glazed, Chocolate Iced with Sprinkles and Chocolate Iced Kreme-Filled doughnuts will be delivered fresh every day, the companies say.

Here’s the rollout plan: Krispy Kreme doughnuts will begin popping up at McDonald’s throughout the country during several phases and will be available nationwide by the end of 2026. We don’t have the when and where yet; McDonald’s says more details will be revealed soon.

The announcement comes after McDonald’s tested the arrangement at 160 restaurants in Kentucky — “where consumer excitement and demand exceeded expectation.” Unsurprising for those who remember the long lines of yesteryear that were a common sight when Krispy Kreme expanded into new markets.

Back to my Dunkin’ past: In middle school, I remember the hubbub when Krispy Kreme FINALLY arrived in New England. But 20 years after all that fanfare, there exists not a single Krispy Kreme in Massachusetts — firmly, unequivocally Dunkin’ territory.

And where the Bay State has Dunkin’ on every street corner, California has countless mom-and-pop doughnut shops. As PBS SoCal explains, many of these were opened by Cambodian immigrants in the 70s and 80s and have remained go-to spots for a sweet breakfast in many neighborhoods.

See Also: Community Helps Doughnut Shopkeeper Get Home To Sick Wife

It makes me wonder about how successful McDonald’s and Krispy Kreme will be in places with such ingrained doughnut cultures. Dunkin’ is fine and Krispy Kreme is good, but I think I speak for many Californians when I say neither can compare to the beautiful cases of fresh doughnuts — made with love — at places like Los Feliz’s Daily Donuts, San Clemente’s Surfin’ Donuts, Randy’s Donuts which opened a new location this week, or Rocklin Donuts & Cinnamon (named the best in the country by Yelp).

The ambition makes sense for McDonald’s, whose execs are making a point to go after Starbucks’ coffee dominance.

McCafé blended drinks, lattes and coffees are now a standby at McDonald’s in the U.S., McCafé K-Cups and ground coffee are available at grocery stores, and the company has standalone McCafé stores in countries across the world.

Stateside, the fast food giant is testing a different coffee-focused restaurant called CosMc’s, with an out-there concept described by the CEO thusly: “What would happen if a McDonald’s character from the 1980s that was part alien, part surfer, part robot — what would happen if this character were to open a restaurant in 2023?”

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And Krispy Kreme — which already delivers fresh doughnuts to stores including Ralphs, Stater Bros. and Walmart — says it expects to “more than double our points of access” by the time the McDonald’s partnership fully rolls out by 2026’s end.

The sheer breadth of this partnership will require a lot of investment by both companies. “Krispy Kreme has been scaling its supply chain, building a support team, adding technology and new equipment, and enhancing field training to support its Delivered Fresh Daily expansion,” the company said.

That speaks to their confidence in the marriage’s ability to cleave away customers of Starbucks and Dunkin’ and likely locally owned competitors, too.

Here’s hoping the ubiquity and convenience of a McDonald’s drive-thru Krispy Kreme doesn’t come at the expense of the mom-and-pop doughnut shop.

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