Up until a few years ago, the Mexican border city of Juarez was considered one of the most dangerous in the world due to the violent drug trafficking cartels operating in the area. Today, Juarez is a much safer place, but there’s still some trafficking going on, involving something just as addictive as illegal drugs – Krispy Kreme doughnuts.
Let’s face it, the whole of the United States is obsessed with glazed Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and things are apparently not much different south of the border. The American company first started operating in Mexico in 2004, setting up shop in virtually every major city, Juarez included. People absolutely loved them, so when Krispy Kreme decided to shut down its operations in Juarez due to the violent drug war that was taking place in the city, they had to come up with alternative ways of getting their hands on their favorite sweet treats. When boarding a plane out of Mexico City, it’s not uncommon to see people holding boxes of Krispy Kreme boxes for family and friends in places that don’t have their own shops. But what if you don’t have anyone to bring you such gifts, or if you need a constant supply of delicious glazed doughnuts? You turn to the local doughnut black market, of course.
Yes, there is such a thing as a Krispy Kreme black market in Juarez, and it’s apparently booming. Local entrepreneurs with U.S. visas drive to El Paso, Texas and buy dozens of boxes of doughnuts, which they later sell to doughnut junkies back home at a slightly higher price. Whereas most Krispy Kreme fans saw the closing of the local shop as a tragedy, these people saw it as an opportunity to fill a void, and supplement their income while making many people happy.
The Los Angeles Times recently wrote an article on the “Krispy Kreme Familia”, the main American doughnut supplier in Juarez. Sonia Garcia told the newspaper that one of her sons drives to El Paso several times a week, buying around 40 boxes of doughnuts, for a$5 each. Back in Juarez, Sonia and her other son sell them at two different locations, for $8 a box, a 60% markup, that people don’t seem to have a problem with. The Krispy Krem Familia has a popular Facebook page where they let customers know when they restock and what type of doughnuts they have available. They also do home deliveries if the order is large enough.
Sonia runs her business out of the trunk of her sedan, which is decorated with a trademark “Krispy Kreme Donas” banner to make it more visible. People sometimes stand in line to get their hands on a few delicious treats, and the Mexican entrepreneur lets them choose their donuts from her stock. The Krispy Kreme Familia doughnut “shop” is open every weekday from 5 in the evening, until stock runs out, which usually doesn’t take very long.
Some of Sonia’s regular customers are so addicted to Kripy Kreme doughnuts that they don’t even realize it. “I don’t come here that often,” local Juanita Gabriela Gaytan told the LA Times. “Well, maybe two or three times a week.”
It’s not that Mexico doesn’t have it’s own delicious desserts. There’s the popular churros, the fritter-like buñuelo and the sopapilla pastry, but when it comes to doughnuts, they just can’t nail the texture and the flavor of American products. Sonia Garcia says that Mexican imitations are always hard and dry compared to original Krispy Kreme. “I don’t know why, but these are just softer and better,” she added.
Selling A few dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts every day doesn’t sound like a very profitable business, but Garcia says that it has helper put her son through engineering school, which she would have otherwise struggled with.
While trying to find some new information on the Krispy Kreme Familia, I learned that they are not the first, nor the only Krispy Kreme dealers in Juarez. A 2014 article on Mexican online newspaper Norte Digital talks about Mauricio Chavez and Vanessa Gavaldon, the owners of a similar unofficial business. They started selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts in Juarez, after seeing one of their friends regularly traveling to El Paso to buy them for himself.
Two years ago, their Facebook page already had over 8,000 fans and they sold around 70 boxes of doughnuts per day. ‘We were the first to bring the doughnuts from El Paso to Juarez, but there are already others who sell them. Our advantage is that we bring them fresh daily, while others sell them for up to four days,” Vanessa said at the time.
Both Sonia Garcia and Vanessa Gavaldon say that Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts are the most popular. I guess that makes sense.