It looked like closing time at the county fair or the week before Christmas at the mall: cars just sitting there, bumper to bumper, waiting their turn to inch along.
Dozens of vehicles lined up and down the aisles of the parking lot, honking as if every single driver in front of them was staring at their cellphone while stopped at a green light. It sounded like the traffic jam of the century.
But, in fact, it was the Krispy Kreme drive-through at 1:30 a.m. in Dublin — the first to open in the country.
The Dublin location opened Sept. 26 to wide acclaim, especially for its 24-hour drive-through. At least 300 people were queued at the door at 7 a.m. that morning, the Irish Times reported. But the lines did not go away. Throughout the night and the week, customers seemed unable to get enough of the doughnuts.
Neighbors complained to local government and Krispy Kreme executives that the noise from the doughnut drive-through had kept them awake for days, they told the Irish Times.
After just one week, Krispy Kreme had to shut down Dublin’s 24-hour drive-through.
“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,” Krispy Kreme Ireland said in an Oct. 3 statement on Facebook, announcing the overnight shutdown.
The doughnut chaos has perplexed much of Ireland.
After all, Irish people “had actually seen doughnuts in Ireland before all hell broke loose about #KrispyKreme’s arrival,” one Irish woman, Mim Donovan, confirmed on Twitter. “This is not like the first time that we have seen doughnuts,” confirmed another Irish person, Carl Kinsella, writing for Joe, an online Irish men’s lifestyle magazine.
But there is apparently something incomparable about a Krispy Kreme in Dublin. One local councilman described what he witnessed as a “phenomenon.”
“I was at the opening and I have to say, I wasn’t prepared for the phenomenon that it is,” Ted Leddy told the Independent. “I mean there are other 24/7 stores in the [shopping] center, but I’m not sure what it is with doughnuts.”
Krispy Kreme has been around in the United States since 1937 and has more than 300 locations nationwide. It’s been called a “cult” favorite in the past, inspiring “pilgrims” to “pile into the car and drive for hours just to have a couple of ‘Hot Nows,’ ” as Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Marlene Parrish wrote in 2001. Some people loved them so much they named their dog after them, as Parrish discovered.
“Anybody who thinks Krispy Kremes are just another doughnut hasn’t tasted them right off the line,” a Krispy Kreme superfan told Parrish.
In more recent years, people in Billings, Mont., and Chesapeake, Va., for example, camped outside new Krispy Kreme locations, awaiting that warm, sticky, super-fried glazed doughnut first thing in the morning.
But Ireland’s reception appeared to be in a league of its own.
“For some reason, introducing any stimulant like this one into Irish society is like introducing a packet of Mentos into a recently shaken up bottle of Diet Coke,” Kinsella wrote in Joe. “We shake violently. We rupture. We convulse, as a people. It’s a mess. And it’s not how the rest of the world operates. There are 316 Krispy Kremes in the U.S. It’s been around for 81 years. It has over 1,000 locations globally. Ireland had ONE store, for ONE week, and we all freaked out so bad that they had to change its entire business model. Immediately.”
Krispy Kreme was responsive. The management tried to erect signs for drivers, “asking them to be quiet,” and tried to work with the shopping center management to “control traffic congestion in the store vicinity,” the shop said on Facebook Oct. 2. But none of it seemed to be enough.
The drive-through will now remain open until 11:30 p.m. and will open at 6 a.m., and the traffic mitigation plans will continue, the Irish Times reported.
As of Friday morning, the Irish Times reported a wait time of 30 minutes for the doughnuts, with metal barriers set up to control the queue like those found at a theme park.
“Once you’re in, you’re in,” one customer told the newspaper as he waited. “There’s no going back.”