Batting for Krispy Kreme: Celebrity Franchisees
By Melanie Shanley

(FORTUNE Magazine) – To Hank Aaron, there are two types of doughnuts. One is the metal weight with the rubber covering that he slid over the handle of his bat in the on-deck circle. The other is Krispy Kreme. "I used to stop by the store many years ago and stuff my face with their products," says Aaron, who grew up in Mobile, Ala. Somehow Aaron's waistline never reached Ruthian proportions, but he did wind up surpassing the Babe as baseball's all-time home-run leader.

Hammering Hank still owns that record today (sorry, Barry). He also owns a Krispy Kreme franchise. "I asked them if they had anything I could do in the way of franchises," he says. "So now I have a shop in the West End of Atlanta, and I am planning on opening two more." He checks in on his store a couple of times a week before heading over to Turner Field, home of his Braves, for a workout.

Aaron joins Dick Clark of American Bandstand fame and Jimmy Buffett of margarita fame as Krispy Kreme celebrity franchisees. Even though he grew up in Mount Vernon, N.Y., Clark was an early adopter. He traveled through the South in the '50s with the Caravan of Stars music tour, and, he says, "the whole bus would unload whenever we saw a Krispy Kreme." So when the doughnuts went national, Clark, the host of New Year's Rockin' Eve, pleaded with the head office to give him a Times Square franchise in New York. That didn't happen, but CEO Scott Livengood did ask if he would be interested in being an overseas franchisee. In December 2002, Clark, along with two partners, got the rights to develop 25 Krispy Kreme franchises in Britain. The first one will open in the fall.

Like Aaron, Buffett grew up in Mobile ("those doughnuts are in my genes," he says) and knew former Krispy Kreme CEO Mack McAleer in grade school. Last year he opened a franchise in Palm Beach, and he hopes to open another in Jamaica soon. How about a doughnut with that jerk chicken and margarita? --Melanie Shanley