The University of North Carolina’s N.C. Children’s Specialty Clinic will now be known as the Krispy Kreme Challenge Children’s Specialty Clinic, named after a tasty treat that’s filled with fat and sugar and will make you obese and die.
The clinic, according to a release out of UNC, won’t be named after the Krispy Kreme Corporation, but after the “Krispy Kreme Challenge,” a grotesque feat of athleticism in which you run, binge on Krispy Kreme donuts and then run more to raise money for the clinic (Slogan: “2400 calories, 12 doughnuts, 5 miles, 1 hour”). You can view the “donut eating portion” of the run above. The event is sponsored in part by the Krispy Kreme Donut Corporation, which makes a product that is delicious and contributes to our national epidemic of fat, dying Americans. A place that’s designed to increase health will bear the trademark of a company that profits from destroying health. The thesis is named after its antithesis. The Batman Center for Joker Stuff. The Beddy Ford Clinic Brought to You By Cocaine.
And they really are not great for you! From a paper published in the Science of Aging Knowledge Environment in 2002 about diabetes in mice:
Eat a Krispy Kreme doughnut, and feel your blood sugar soar. In response, the pancreas produces insulin, which tells muscle, fat, and liver cells to soak up the sweets. Insulin sets off a chain reaction when it attaches to a cell surface receptor. The receptor adds a phosphate group to other proteins, which enables them to prod cells to absorb sugar and store it. As sugar concentration in the blood falls, liver cells take up insulin to shut off this response
Anyway, this shit is very tasty and also horrible for you in anything more than extreme moderation. If you’re a distance runner like those who compete in the Krispy Kreme Challenge race, you’re probably burning calories so prodigiously that you can afford a Krispy Kreme donut binge, and God what a life that must be. But for the rest of us Krispy Kreme represents the siren call of diabetes, obesity, clogged hearts, and death—we can only hope a death that takes place in the Krispy Kreme Challenge Children’s Specialty Clinic, which I’m sure is a very good hospital with some now very terrible branding.
I’ve contacted the Krispy Kreme Challenge Children’s Specialty Clinic, the Krispy Kreme Challenge group, and the Krispy Kreme Donut Company, to ask whether or not this is completely insane.
Update: A hospital spokesperson replied with the following statement:
Let me state up front, the $2 million gift commitment is in no way attached to Krispy Kreme the corporation. The clinic is the namesake of the Krispy Kreme Challenge, a once a year event (doughnuts optional) directed by a group of community-minded students in N.C. State University’s Park Scholars program—students known as N.C. State’s best and brightest. The race, and all the work that leads up to it (all done on a volunteer basis), is a shining example of these students’ leadership, service, and character.
Again, the Park Scholars are in no way affiliated with Krispy Kreme, and the corporation has absolutely no involvement in the race beyond permitting the Park Scholars to use its name in the race title. Even the race day doughnuts are paid for by the Park Scholars out of registration fees.
When it came to the naming, however, the organizers felt strongly about incorporating the name of the race as a means of publicly demonstrating their stewardship. They wanted to show the community that the money registrants have given to the event is being invested as promised. Being in communications, I wasn’t personally involved in the naming decision, but I understand the clinic renaming was vetted and approved through the appropriate channels.
I’ve seen the jabs on social media and in blog posts. And speaking on behalf of myself—not UNC Children’s—I think the criticism is overblown. The K2 Challenge is a once a year event directed by a group of accomplished, community-focused college students. These are kids essentially working a full-time job for free as they pursue their studies in order to give back to their community. As for the race itself, most people who run it do so as “casual runners” with no intention of eating a dozen doughnuts. But it’s the novelty, the notoriety, that draws the crowds and enables organizers to raise more money each year. To offer some perspective, the 2015 race was the most fiscally successful to date, resulting in a $200,000 donation to UNC Children’s, and organizers anticipate raising even more in 2016. And with absolutely no personal benefit to them. Every penny over and above the event’s modest operating costs is donated to UNC Children’s.
Some who are unfamiliar with the Park Scholars or the event itself may see “Krispy Kreme” in the name and make an erroneous assumption, thinking UNC Children’s “sold out” to a company that produces unhealthy food. We’re disappointed that a small minority of people have jumped to that conclusion. They couldn’t be more wrong. When we see the name, we think of the Park Scholars and their generosity of spirit. Regardless of the criticism, we are proud to honor them and grateful for their commitment to help sick children in their community.