Krispy Kreme's Hot Sign Still Lit After 77 Years

New CEO plans to expand the brand, but carefully

— -- Friday marks a momentous occasion for the Krispy Kreme brand: its 77th birthday, and to celebrate, the iconic doughnut chain is implementing one of its new CEO’s strategies for success: going social.

In past years, Krispy Kreme has taken advantage of its birthday and occasions like “Talk Like a Pirate Day” to wrangle customers into its stores and get them engaging with the brand online in innovative, fun ways. And the company’s new president and CEO, Tony Thompson, plans to continue that trend.

“We’re going to continue to build on that and identify those fun occasions for people to experience Krispy Kreme and to share,” he told ABC News. “Just to really socially activate and get consumers excited about the brand and come in and just celebrate with us.”

Tomorrow to honor its 77th year, Krispy Kreme stores will be promoting a dozen original glazed doughnuts for 77 cents, after purchase of any dozen. The chain recognized a good thing after running the promotion for the past two years to much success.

“We had been doing some consumer research, and it said fans love donuts – we just have to give them a reason to,” public relations and media manager Lafeea Watson said. “So our gift to them was the 75 cent deal, and it went spectacularly with lines around the corner at the shops.”

Thompson, who joined Krispy Kreme from Papa John’s just one month ago, plans to ride that wave.

“We have some work that’s begun on what we call a ‘customer engagement platform’ that will include loyalty rewards,” he said. “We should be in some test areas by the end of this calendar year and then hopefully roll out in 2015.”

Beyond social engagement, Thompson is taking a look at the menu to identify areas for expansion. So far, he’s pinpointed more savory offerings, plus gluten-free doughnuts and specialty drinks.

“10 a.m. to 2 p.m. is an opportunity for us. Can we come up with a savory type of product that still is, in a consumer’s mind, Krispy Kreme?” Thompson said. “We don’t want to stray away from what would be viewed as anything outside the brand.”

The company also plans to release a K-cup version of their house blend drip coffee this fall.

One thing Thompson would never mess with, though, is the beloved original glazed doughnut, which is a huge reason doughnuts still make up 80 percent of the company’s sales.

“The fact that Krispy Kreme has stayed so centered and focused on their original glazed doughnut and who we are, I think that that alone has really helped the brand,” he said. “The product is so unique and special and craveable.”

And when the hot sign is lit, indicating doughnuts are fresh out of the fryer, fans still line up around the block.

“To have an original glazed is exciting and good. But to get one hot off the line is a whole different level,” Thompson enthused. “First thing people tell me when they find out I work for Krispy Kreme is, ‘Oh my goodness, I love hot donuts off the lines.’ It’s almost 100 percent of people that say that.”