Box pile at the Krispy Kreme Challenge / Dan Bock

May 11, 2016; Vox

About six months ago, I wrote a newswire about the fact that the North Carolina Children’s Specialty Clinic, which is affiliated with the University of North Carolina’s Children’s Hospital, was renamed the Krispy Kreme Challenge Children’s Specialty Clinic. They insisted that it was not named for the junk food itself but for a bizarre charity race called the Krispy Kreme Challenge that raises money for the facility. The race requires participants to eat 12 Krispy Kreme donuts while running five miles in an hour. (“2400 calories, 12 doughnuts, 5 miles, 1 hour”)

That was provocation enough for public health advocates. “When we heard that University of North Carolina was including Krispy Kreme in the name of a children’s health clinic, we thought it was a joke. Hadn’t they heard that there’s a childhood obesity crisis?” asked Margo Wootan, director for nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). “The last thing we need is doctors and other healthcare providers undermining their own advice by plastering a doughnut brand on their medical offices.”

For its part, UNC was appalled at the pushback. “We’re disappointed that a small minority of people have jumped to that conclusion,” a clinic spokesperson said, referring to the unreasonable idea that the name implies anything to do with Krispy Kreme. “They couldn’t be more wrong.”

CSPI circulated a petition for a name change, which received 14,000 signatures. But perhaps just as powerful was the fact that one 58-year-old runner collapsed with a fatal heart attack during the most recent Krispy Kreme Challenge in Raleigh—at which point Darryl Carr, senior director of corporate communications for Krispy Kreme, denied any official role in the Krispy Kreme Race.

Anyway, gone from the clinic is the direct reference to Krispy Kreme, a corporation founded and based in North Carolina for nearly eighty years and which has just been sold.

“The new name honors the generosity of the Park Scholars, who have committed to raise a total of $2 million for UNC Children’s,” announced UNC communications representative Jennifer James. The Park Scholars is the group that actually organizes the annual Krispy Kreme race.

We wonder what this will mean, if anything, for the event itself.—Ruth McCambridge