Paducah, home of the... DOUGHNUT? And the Krispy Kreme variety on top of that!
The WestKentuckyStar.com reports University of North Carolina Library Archives says "Vernon Rudolph opened his first doughnut shop in 1933 in the town of Paducah, Kentucky, with a recipe his uncle had purchased from a chef in New Orleans. Within a few years, he had moved his business to several other Southern cities, and was focused on selling his doughnuts wholesale to local grocery stores. He still had not found the perfect location to establish his business. It wasn't until the summer of 1937 that Rudolph set off for Winston-Salem, NC, with little more than twenty dollars in his pocket, two friends, and the intention of opening a new doughnut shop."
However, Duke U's paper, The Chronicle, has a bit of a different story written in 2003 about Paducah's role in Krispy Kreme: "According to the Krispy Kreme website, Vernon Rudolph bought a doughnut shop in Paducah from a French chef named Joe LeBeau and inherited a secret yeast-raised doughnut recipe that would become the magic formula still in use today.
But in the 1980s, the company sent one of its in-house lawyers to Paducah to find out a bit more about LeBeau and the company's roots and could find no traces of the French chef. Then in 1997, Carver received a call from a Paducah-based historian who wanted to know more about the company. Two years later, Carver went down to Paducah, where he and the historian were initially confounded.
"There was no doughnut shop in 1933," he says. "There was no Joe Lebeau." "There was a Joseph G. LeBoeuf," he says, drawing out and emphasizing the 'was', "and we traced him to Louisville, Ky."
LeBoeuf worked as a cook on a barge on the Ohio River and was famous for three things--his flapjacks, his coconut cakes, and his light and fluffy doughnuts. Uncle Ishmael probably admired the recipe, Carver says, and LeBoeuf would have been flattered to share it--no secret transactions involved. Unfortunately, Joe LeBoeuf had passed away just 10 months before Carver Rudolph made it over to Paducah so there is still a bit of mystery regarding the exact origin of the recipe. As Carver explains, LeBoeuf was only making a few dozen doughnuts a day whereas his dad had to produce about 400, so, "I'm sure he doctored it right away... the proportions just don't work the same."
Know what? Those Carolina educators don't know a bear claw from a French cruller, so we @ The Uncommonwealth as just gonna have to go with the affirmative on the doughnut being born in Paducah. Just 'coz we can. Wink.
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