By Mr. Rick Scavetta (IMCOM) U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-PfalzNovember 17, 2015
LANDSTUHL, Germany - Pfc. Amanda Milo was surprised when boxes of freshly-made Krispy Kreme donuts arrived a flu vaccine clinic at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
Milo, 22, was even more surprised to learn they are now being produced at a U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz post in nearby Grünstadt, where the Exchange bakery is located. She hasn't had a Krispy Kreme donuts since she was back home in Salem, Oregon,
"It's the first time since I've been stationed here in Germany," Milo said. "It tastes so fresh."
The Army & Air Force Exchange Service, known to troops now simply as the Exchange, has an agreement with North Carolina-based Krispy Kreme to produce the donuts in Germany and sell them at the Express stores on post, said Don Henson, a food plants operation manager from the Exchange headquarters in Dallas.
"We're introducing Krispy Kreme to our service members and their family members here in Europe, providing them a taste of home and perhaps bringing back some of those wonderful childhood memories they may have had, of a wonderful treat -- especially if they are from the South and East of the United States," Henson said. "We like to think this will give everyone a nice smile on their face."
The new offering has really gotten folks excited. The garrison's social media posts were liked and shared thousands of times, with hundreds of comments, in the weeks prior to the launch.
Krispy Kreme sent Charles Wiedmann, senior director of international franchise operations and Ernestine McCoy, an operations trainer, to show the Exchange bakery workers how to make the donuts just as they are crafted in the States.
"We think this a great partnership with AAFES," Wiedmann said. "We're are very happy to bring a taste of home to our troops"
McCoy, of Jacksonville, Floridia, who has set up similar operations in places England and Dubai, said it meant more knowing these donuts were for the military as her grandson, Trayvon Jackson, is a Soldier serving in Korea.
Most breads and pastries Americans buy in Europe are baked at Grünstadt Depot, a garrison post near Mannheim. Situated a few miles north of Bad Dürkheim, just east of the Pfalz forest along Autobahn 6, the depot is also home to the Culligan bottled water plant. It's been a U.S. Army post since the early 1950's. In the past, workers there produced ice cream, packaged meat and photo prints. The bakery opened in the early 1980's. The garrison now oversees maintenance and repair for roughly 20 buildings, plus security and safety for depot employees.
Col. Geoffrey De Tingo, commander of the Exchange's Europe/Southwest Asia region and Sgt. Maj. Keith Craig, the command's senior enlisted advisor, were at the bakery Nov. 9, as the first donuts came of the line. Then, fighting heavy autobahn traffic, Craig rushed the first boxes to the Fisher House and the USO at Wilson Barracks in Landstuhl.
"It's our great pleasure to present the first Krispy Kreme donuts in Germany to our most deserving group, America's heroes currently recovering here," Craig said.
In the weeks prior, Craig heard from other enlisted leaders about the buzz about Soldiers and family members anticipating the donuts coming to shoppettes on post.
"It's amazing," said Craig, walking into the Fisher House. "I think of the smiles that will be on their faces."
Inside, Zach Salazar, a 28-year-old Marine from Lubbock, Texas, was awaiting his wife's release from the nearby Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. He smiled as Craig handed him a box of donuts.
It was like a flashback, Salazar said, to watching glazing coat donuts going through a conveyor back at his hometown Krispy Kreme. It had been more than three years since he ate one, he said.
"It feels good, I haven't had them in forever," Salazar said, biting into the sweet treat. "From what I can remember they taste exactly the same. They are delicious."