Steve Braunias reports from the happiest place in Auckland right now – Krispy Kreme.
It took over an hour to queue for a doughnut at Krispy Kreme on Monday.
The waiting time was twice that in the weekend, and an incredible 25,000 people have visited the US doughnut emporium since it opened its first New Zealand store in Manukau last Wednesday. "It never stops," said traffic controller Solo Salu, 27. He shook his head slowly from side to side at the wonder of it: such scenes, such excitement, all for the want of a doughnut.
"We're here from Napier," said Portia Yeo. She'd travelled to Auckland with her friend Suzie Penrose to see rock band Incubus. Both women were 30. Portia had an elaborate tattoo on her back, and the word HOPE. She said, "There's no way we'd come all this way and not check out Krispy Kreme. It's had so much hype. You've got to check it out, don't you?"
"I'm on a date with my mum," said Rachna Deo, 22, who stood with her mother Radhika, 40.
"I'm only here because she dragged me here," said Ben Palmer, 29, who lined up with his wife Chloe, 27. "There are a lot of things I'd rather be doing with my time." Chloe smiled at him, and squeezed his hand. Ben wore an interesting hat. He smiled back at her, lovingly.
"I don't mind the wait," said Syan Purcell, 17. She finished school last year. "I don't have much to do with my day." She was waiting with Keegan Hope, 18. Many punters could be seen leaving Krispy Kreme with bags of two or three trays of 12 doughnuts; Syan and Keegan ate in, and ordered two doughnuts each.
"I'm a Filipino, but here I am!", said Jan Cantiller, 32. He meant the scandal caused by a security guard at Krispy Kreme who refused entry to a Filipino woman on the apparently important grounds that she didn't have New Zealand residency. "Pretty racist, right," said Jan. But here he was, queuing in the sunshine on a beautiful day. "Well," he reasoned, "if you can't beat them, join them."
Natasha Viray was with her friend Jessica Wahid. Both women were 22. It was Natasha's second time, after going queuing in the drive-through for over an hour on Thursday night with her mum. Krispy Kreme is open from 6am to 11pm; the drive-through is open all night.
Natasha and Jessica were approached by Paige Tapara, 20, a Krispy Kreme employee who was offering a free vanilla doughnut to people as they waited in the queue. Jessica took a bite, and the look on her face made it seem as though she had met God. "I'm so happy," she sighed, scoffing the doughnut.
Two 18-year-olds, Brooke Gascoigne and Joanne Jaipradit, sat inside Krispy Kreme, each with a box of 12 doughnuts.
"Well," said Brooke, giving serious and considered thought to the question of what she thought of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, "I have to say that I think they are just totally awesome. Worth the diabetes I will probably get in later life."
Krispy Kreme's New Zealand retail manager, Antonio Rivera, 39, mopped his face. He was flat-out, rushed off his feet, enjoying every second. He said there were plans to introduce five more franchises over the next two years. Antonio is from Guatemala. He had the shiny look of an evangelist. He said, "We're here to make people happy. This is a treat. That's it."
The punters kept coming, pouring in through the door, couples, friends, mothers and daughters, in waves of excitement and good cheer. It felt like the happiest place in Auckland, possibly the world. It was a zone of sugar and icing, and everyone looked glazed with joy… I ordered two boxes of 12 doughnuts, ate seven, and thought they were pretty goddamned average.