A woman’s brief investigation into Krispy Kreme’s dumpsters prompted a renewed conversation about food waste.
McKenzie Wheeler (@mckenziewheeler11) said her dad asked her to “investigate” why Krispy Kreme’s dumpsters have been empty recently. So, Wheeler filmed herself going through the drive-thru and broaching the topic with one of the employees.
“You guys used to throw out the donuts and [my dad] would come and take them,” Wheeler said. “But he said that you guys haven’t been throwing them out lately and is wondering when he can get them.”
The worker, off-camera, told Wheeler that Krispy Kreme “[doesn’t] throw out any donuts.” The worker also said she didn’t know whether the chain used to toss them in the dumpster.
“We’ll relay the message back to him,” Wheeler replied.
Krispy Kreme has come under fire for food waste in the past. In 2016, a photo showing multiple dumpsters filled with donuts went viral. At the time, the company issued a statement saying they were “proud” that its pastries were “made fresh daily.” Last year, though, an alleged former employee shared pictures of several large trash bags filled with discarded donuts to reddit. “Average shifts worth of food waste at Krispy Kreme. Every. Day,” they wrote.
And the bakery is hardly alone in this. The National Restaurant Association estimated that somewhere between 22 to 33 billion pounds of food is wasted each year in the United States. In recent years, workers have taken to social media to showcase just how much food they throw out at the end of the day. Some workers said they risk getting fired if they take things home.
In the comment section of Wheeler’s video, many fast food employees said that their own stores waste a lot of food, too.
“I worked at Tim Hortons and they throw so much stuff out,” one worker said.
“My bf worked at dunkin, he said they’d give away free stuff at the end of the day, but if a homeless person asked they would get fired for giving it,” another shared.
Someone who said they previously worked at Krispy Kreme claimed that their location did dump donuts, but “only… if they aren’t ‘perfect donuts,’” suggesting this particular store might simply “have a good baker in the back.”
“I’ve seen some grocery stores around Krispy Kreme locations that sell day old dozen donuts from them,” another viewer observed.
Dumpster diving is technically legal at a federal level, though local laws can vary. There are other reasons companies may want to deter dumpster divers, too, including the questionable belief that preventing people from taking something from the trash might turn them into paying customers.
Whether that’s the case at Krispy Kreme is unclear. But a number of viewers didn’t buy the employee’s claim that Krispy Kreme simply doesn’t throw away donuts.
“I feel like they’re lying to you,” one user wrote.
“my dad agrees,” Wheeler replied.
The Daily Dot has reached out to Wheeler via TikTok comment and to Krispy Kreme by email.