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July 5, 2007 8:32 AM   Subscribe

The cult of Dunkin' Donuts. Why New Englanders are devoted to Dunkin' Donuts. It's not only because of this.
posted by Mayor Curley (146 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's why donuts are holey.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:36 AM on July 5, 2007


My parents met at a Dunkin Donuts in Boston. They've been married 40 years now.
posted by frecklefaerie at 8:38 AM on July 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Same reason Americans are devoted to Budweiser and Coors. Their coffee has been robbed of all true bean flavor, replaced with three scoops of sugar, cream, and chemicals. Most people who like Dunkin Donuts coffee don't like coffee. They just want a sweet hot beverage.

Disclaimer: I'm not just an anti-success hippie. I prefer Starbucks coffee for instance.
posted by Plutor at 8:38 AM on July 5, 2007


I prefer Starbucks coffee for instance.

Infidel. You will be converted by our righteous hands or perish.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:41 AM on July 5, 2007 [6 favorites]


Saw this in the Globe last week: Facing Tough Java rRvals, Dunkin' Sees Green in Iced Tea.
posted by ericb at 8:42 AM on July 5, 2007


I live and work in NE. What devotion to Dunkin' Donuts?

You and I both know what Dunkin’ Donuts means to Boston and New England. It’s a lynchpin of our identity. It’s a religion. It’s a cult. People in these parts freaking love Dunkin’ Donuts.

Wha? News to me.
posted by DU at 8:42 AM on July 5, 2007


So it isn't about taste or quality, but about branding and appearance?
posted by Challahtronix at 8:43 AM on July 5, 2007


I agree about the coffee Plutor. The devotion to D&D coffee baffles me, but I do like the doughnuts better than Krispy Kreme - though not as much as The Whole Donut.
posted by horsemuth at 8:44 AM on July 5, 2007


Dunkin' is definitely a religion up here in Maine. Portland now has a bunch of them, even on the pricey peninsula, curiously staffed by what appear to be recent eastern European immigrants. What really surprises me is the turnpike authority has been remodeling all of the gas station/restaurants on 95, adding Starbucks instead of Dunkin'. What are they, nuts?

I'm not much of a coffee drinker myself, so I don't really get the cult-like attraction, and in fact was a little disappointed when I walked into a DD in Falmouth to find that they had a sparse selection of donuts. Not a single bavarian creme. Shocked, I was.
posted by SteveInMaine at 8:49 AM on July 5, 2007


I was out in Boston this spring and there were hundreds of DD's in a square mile around my hotel.

We joked about what it must be like to give driving directions in the area...

"Go down the road until you pass three Dunkin' Donuts. Take a left at the next Dunkin' Donuts and then a right at the next Dunkin' Donuts. We're right next door to the Dunkin' Donuts."
posted by Hugh2d2 at 8:50 AM on July 5, 2007 [12 favorites]


Plutor: Their coffee has been robbed of all true bean flavor, replaced with three scoops of sugar, cream, and chemicals. Most people who like Dunkin Donuts coffee don't like coffee. They just want a sweet hot beverage.

Agreed. There's a Dunkin' Donuts right across the street from my office, and every once in a while when I'm feeling hungry/sleepy walking from my car to work, I stop at the DD and get a couple of donuts and a cup of coffee. I almost always regret getting the coffee. I swear to God they use sawdust to make it. I like the donuts, though...
posted by malthas at 8:51 AM on July 5, 2007


I've seldom felt such a sense of betrayal as when this place moved out of downtown to remotest North Mainistan - not only the new location was bad, but the new place didn't have room to eat in. So much for my beloved early morning ritual (they opened, bless their hearts, at 6:30) of running the dog into town, yakking with the guy at the counter (who drove in each morning from the bustling, far-off burg of Pilot and seemed perpetually amazed that I would bicycle all of 2 or 3 miles to come in to their grungy little shop), and settling in for (admittedly pretty horrible) coffee and perfect, fresh-out-of-hot-lard, crisp-soft-dough-and-fruit bliss while I worked problems or read papers or whatever.

So anyway despite the betrayal it's no longer possible to just enjoy a shiny sterile Dunkin' Donuts type of joint anymore.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:53 AM on July 5, 2007


Also, this trend of Rachael Ray advertising for Dunkin' Donuts is incredibly disturbing. She should be banned like indoor smoking in the UK.
posted by malthas at 8:53 AM on July 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


>You and I both know what Dunkin’ Donuts means to Boston and New England. It’s a lynchpin of our identity. It’s a religion. It’s a cult. People in these parts freaking love Dunkin’ Donuts.

Wha? News to me.

You live in New England? Those shops every 300 feet with the orange and pink signs are Dunkin' Donuts branches. Your neighbors are patronizing them. Unless you live in that town from The Village, in which case I can see why you'd dispute that assessment.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:54 AM on July 5, 2007


I hated Dunkin' Donuts til I heard Rachel Ray eats there every morning. *ducks*
posted by null terminated at 8:55 AM on July 5, 2007


After posting my last comment, I realized that it looks like I'm implying that Starbucks is superior, which I don't really believe. It was more a comment of the fact that the article never actually covers the taste issue and just discusses the history of Dunkin in New England and their marketing of Dunkin as the "blue collar" brand as opposed to Starbucks high-falutin' ways. They could've mentioned this which says that Dunkin Donuts was voted "best coffee" overall- compared with convenience stores, fast food places, and coffee house chains like Peet's and Starbucks.
posted by Challahtronix at 8:56 AM on July 5, 2007


Hugh2d2, that's not too far off.

Count me as one of the New Englanders who thinks DD coffee is crap.
posted by bondcliff at 8:56 AM on July 5, 2007


My sisters' BF is from RI and he hates that there are no DD out here in Las Vegas, but earlier this year they finally announced plans to expand. Something like 88 stores the first year.
posted by SirOmega at 8:57 AM on July 5, 2007


Also, Wolfdog, I swear that when I go back to school in the fall that I will actually go to that place. I've seen it from the road, but it always seemed inconvenient enough for me to miss. Thanks to your delicious description, I won't make that mistake again.
posted by malthas at 8:57 AM on July 5, 2007


Those shops every 300 feet with the orange and pink signs are Dunkin' Donuts branches.

I see 3 of them on my way to work....a 40 mile commute. More to the point, wouldn't a "cult" or "religion" or "obsession" be an occasional topic of conversation? I've never heard them mentioned outside of the casual "does someone want to go get some donuts?" type remark.

I have no doubt they are densely packed in Boston and other highly-urbanized areas. So are Starbucks and other coffee places. People Are Addicted To Coffee, Film At 11. Nothing to do with DD.
posted by DU at 8:58 AM on July 5, 2007


This is brilliant:

In the end, after all, “this is about perception. McDonalds is trying to compete against Starbucks — going wireless, putting fireplaces in — but Dunkin’ is realizing they can position themselves differently,” says Simon. He asked one Dunkin’ higher-up if there were plans in place to add Wi-Fi. “No, he said, because the last thing he wants is guys in trucks, getting their coffee, to walk in and have no place to sit because there’s a bunch of people in ties banging away on their laptops.”
posted by nevercalm at 8:59 AM on July 5, 2007


Rachel Ray - it makes sense. Sweet, doughy, and someone needs to punch a big hole through the middle of her.
posted by Wolfdog at 8:59 AM on July 5, 2007 [11 favorites]


Hugh2d2 - A must see SNL sketch with Adam Sandler, Phil Hartman and Glenn Close was "What's The Best Way" with a bunch of New England natives in a game show about giving directions (another popular past time around here). The best part...

Stanley Sperrow: Sorry Katie, I didn't finish the question. From Hartford to Sturbridge, how many Dunkin Donuts along the way?

(Tony buzzes in)

Stanley Sperrow: Tony.

Tony Vallencourt: Fourteen.

Stanley Sperrow: Correct! Bonus point for each drive-thru.

Tony Vallencourt: - Four

Stanley Sperrow: That's right!

Tony Vallencourt: Yeah, and the one in Caucus got this WICKED fat kid workin' there.


I'm willing to bet there are way more than 14 DD's between Sturbridge and Hartford now.

Personally can't stand coffee, but the wife loves it. I get dragged into both Starbucks and Drunken Donuts often. Both appear to be a waste of money to me.
posted by inthe80s at 9:01 AM on July 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Metafilter doesn't do coffee well.
posted by davey_darling at 9:01 AM on July 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I grew up in New England, and I never realized what total crap these donuts were until I tasted a Krispy Kreme. Yeah, and the DD coffee tastes horrible too ... and the fucking styrofoam cup? Just because its ubiquitous doesn't mean its any good.

sugar, cream, and chemicals...

Bob Pitts, a Dunkin' Donuts food specialist, has tried 19 alternatives to oil with trans fat, but the doughnuts were too heavy or the icing slid off.
posted by RMD at 9:01 AM on July 5, 2007


In the same vein as Hugh's comment, there's the end of this SNL sketch. (Transcript, no youtube.)

I have to say, I don't get the binary attitude. I go to a cafe to sit and have my fancy coffee and wireless and not do anything; I go to DD on my way to other places. I'll walk to a cafe, but I'm almost always in a car at a DD.

I have to admit, the presence of a TimHo is dangerous, although it's establishing itself as a sandwich-and-chocolate croissant place, a strange intermediate, rather than usurping either.
posted by cobaltnine at 9:03 AM on July 5, 2007


Also, this trend of Rachael Ray advertising for Dunkin' Donuts is incredibly disturbing. She should be banned like indoor smoking in the UK.

If you start calling cigarettes quilicious the problem will take care of itself
posted by Esoquo at 9:07 AM on July 5, 2007


I go to DD on my way to other places. I'll walk to a cafe, but I'm almost always in a car at a DD.

I remember reading an article in the Globe a few years ago where a Dunkin' Donuts executive said that's part of their marketing-- DD isn't a "destination," it's a place you stop at on your way to wherever your destination is.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:09 AM on July 5, 2007


As a Rhode Islander, I always preferred Bess Eaton but I was pretty easily won over by Dunkin Donuts after Tim Hortons took them over. Now that's the only coffee I'll drink.
posted by blaneyphoto at 9:10 AM on July 5, 2007


The Duncan Donuts cult has got nothing on Tim Hortons which is the state religion of Canada eh.
posted by srboisvert at 9:11 AM on July 5, 2007


I like my coffee black, and if you ever taste D&D coffee that way, it's awful. It has this sour acidity to it, like its roasted to go along with lots of milk and sugar. Ugh.
posted by splatta at 9:12 AM on July 5, 2007


Well, I went to college in rural Vermont, in a town of about 500. The only thing there, other than the local pizza place, was a Dunkin' Donuts. Being a southerner, of course, I despised it, wanting nothing but a Krispy Kreme.
posted by absalom at 9:15 AM on July 5, 2007


The styrofoam cup iis the worst part.

Anything hot in that and I have an intense fear that bits of it are disintegrating off into my drink.
posted by Esoquo at 9:16 AM on July 5, 2007


Native Rhode Islander here, now in California.

I go years without eating a single Munchkin or having a single sip of coffee syrup, pining for clam cakes every time I go to the beach. I learn to accept that some things are just local, that you can't ever go home again. I move on, go to college, move to the other side of the world, try to build something with my life.

And what does one find for breakfast among the rice paddies, shopping malls, heaving markets, and majestic volcanic peaks of Bandung, Indonesia? Dunkin Donuts. One block from work. And they make a durian-flavored one. AND they're halal.
posted by mdonley at 9:18 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


DU, for a lot of us, it's hard to avoid. I moved to a suburb of less than 20,000, and we have 5 DD inside the city limits. Next door is a town of less than 15,000 - another 5 DD. The other direction is a town of about 26,000 - 5 more DD. They're inside the supermarkets - the carts even have cupholders built into the handle. If I check the DD website's store finder, there are 31 shops in a 10 mile radius from my house. They just built a brand new DD less than half a mile from me, and the next one is less than a half mile farther. When the new unit opened, business at the older shop went UP, because people figured it wasn't as busy now. Hell, there are 2 in New Haven Union Station, and I've heard folks on the train coming IN to NH already talking about getting a cup.

It's also not just the coffee. For a lot of folks I know, a road trip HAS to start with a stop at the DD for egg sandwiches. If you ask 'you want coffee', people assume you're going to DD unless you specify. Tim Horton's has begun opening shops in our area, and it was front page news in the local paper - 'Can they compete with DD?' and the like.

I'm not going to argue whether it's better, but for a lot of folks it's ubiquitous, and familiar. You walk in, order the same thing wherever, and you know what you're going to get.

Your area may be an exception to the rule, but in general, yes. For much of New England, DD has become something more than just another fast food place.
posted by pupdog at 9:26 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


DD is completely superior to KK. KK basically gives you a gooey doughy slimy mass of sugar and fried dough. Once it has cooled it is inedible unless you are willing to nuke it back up to a tongue burning temperature. Even then you are looking for a wet one to whipe the crap off your hands and mouth for hours. You can buy dozen DD, fill your thermos with hot coffee and drive non-stop coast to coast ; only slowing occasionally to throw bottles of your whiz out the window.
posted by humanfont at 9:27 AM on July 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


There are only 5 within 10 miles of my house. But I live in small town NH, so let's try work, which is bigger. 32. Nice.

It's always great to find out about some additional stupidity you were completely unaware of before.
posted by DU at 9:31 AM on July 5, 2007


You can buy dozen DD, fill your thermos with hot coffee and drive non-stop coast to coast ; only slowing occasionally to throw bottles of your whiz out the window.

coast-to-coast? massholes do this for their commute to work on route 1!
posted by the painkiller at 9:37 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


also, nthing that DD coffee is teh suck. it really does taste like something found at the bottom of a uranium-mine tailing pond.

also also, i wish that pic Mayor Curley linked to was big enough to use as wallpaper.
posted by the painkiller at 9:41 AM on July 5, 2007


I remember a few years ago when the first Krispy Creme to open in Boston (at Wellington Circle, next to KISS-108 and across from Kappy's) was greeted with great fanfare. Another then opened in the Prudential Center. Both ended up closing a short time later. The only one left in Massachusetts is in Dedham.
posted by ericb at 9:42 AM on July 5, 2007


Paf. Bad coffee, bad donuts.

Try a real donut shop.

And much of southern ontario is covered with Tim Hortons', just like people describe the new England/Dunkin relationship. I believe the area around Niagara/St.Catherines actuall yhas the most donut stores per capita in North America (and by extension, the world).
posted by GuyZero at 9:42 AM on July 5, 2007


The KK glazed is kind of the platonic ideal of the perfect donut. But you can't eat glazed donuts all the time, and if you're going for variety, DD is the way to go.
posted by empath at 9:42 AM on July 5, 2007


It's always great to find out about some additional stupidity you were completely unaware of before.

Wow, that seems a bit elitist to me. For a lot of working class folks, DD is a a fairly cheap and easy way to grab breakfast on the go. Many (if not most) are independently and locally owned, and support their local communities. I'm not involved with them in any way, and prefer other coffee myself, but I'm not sure why a successful business that people like is automatically 'stupidity'.
posted by pupdog at 9:42 AM on July 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


Someone needs to do a socio-economic analysis of this vs. Tim Horton's in Eastern(?) Canada.
posted by mkultra at 9:43 AM on July 5, 2007


I understand that tensions may run high here, and different people will obviously prefer different things, but I think it's pretty reasonable to say that those who dislike Dunkin' Donuts should be dissolved in a pool of lye.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:47 AM on July 5, 2007 [8 favorites]


empath: I think you nailed it.
posted by absalom at 9:48 AM on July 5, 2007


I think DD donuts are just plain nasty. Too cakey and too packaged-tasting. Blech. Entemann's glazed + 10 seconds in microwave is bliss (assuming Krispy Kreme is not available and/or small-town family-owned bakery).
posted by ao4047 at 9:50 AM on July 5, 2007


pupdog - I took DU's comment to mean his own stupidity.. i.e. the fact that there are 5 within 10 miles of his house, and 32 within 10 miles of his work, and yet he never noticed that D&D was popular in the region.
posted by horsemuth at 9:53 AM on July 5, 2007


For me, the biggest draw of Dunkin' Donuts is just that it's a built-in part of my youth. Late night, high school, cruising down Elm Street in Manchester, New Hampshire:

"You guys wanna get tacos or something?"
"Everything's closed."
"Oh, hey, Dunkie's is still open."
"Dunkie's is gay."
"You're gay."
"Alarming if true."
"Dude, Dave just started working there."
"Oh, SHIT. FREE DONUTS"
"Let's go!"
"FREE DONUTS"
(a few minutes pass, after which the lads pull in to the Dunkin Donuts parking lot)
"HELLO DAVE"
"Oh, guys, I just started working here, I'm not giving you free donuts."
"HELLO DAVE WE LOVE YOU WE WOULD LIKE FREE DONUTS"
"Guys, I'm not giving you-"
"HELLO DAVE DONUTS
DONUTS DAVE
DONUTS NOW"

Surely, I can't be the only New Englander with this experience?
posted by Greg Nog at 9:54 AM on July 5, 2007 [16 favorites]


Ah, let's remember Joe Biden's quip: "You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent."*

Apu Nahasapeemapetilon: "Ah, Meester Simpson, vould you like a Dunkin Donut to go vith your coffee?"
posted by ericb at 9:55 AM on July 5, 2007


Try a real donut shop.

I laugh most heartily at your suggestion of what constitutes reality.

As for coffee, and DD in particular, I think a lot has to do with the particular chain's manager. There are three within a mile of where I sit right now, two which never fail to leave me utterly disappointed. But the third? Oh, the sweet, lovely third. That place is run by a master. The coffee isn't too acidic, and most importantly, the cream is fresh.

You don't go to DD for the best coffee, just like you don't go to Burger King for the best burger. You go because it's cheap, plentiful, and mostly reliable. It's a known quantity.

Starbucks is vile, wretched crap. Yes, even compared to DD. Know why? Not because of the coffee. Their coffee is worlds better than DD. The reason Starbucks is complete shite is because they insist on leaving their cream in thermoses instead of pouring it for you from a container in a fridge. When cream gets warm, or even slightly old, that's what kills coffee. DD has enormous product turnover: the probably go through a dozen containers of cream a day.

Note also that if you take your coffee black, this doesn't apply to you.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:57 AM on July 5, 2007


srboisvert and others commenting on Tim's - yeah, I'm thinking they're a bit like the Dunkin' Donuts on some level - a familiar brand, not the best coffee in the world (but oh, for those Tim Hortons iced caps... mmm...and Tidbits!). Somewhere I found a great article in the Globe talking about how Canadians have fetishized things like Tims (and I'm guess it's the same with DD and the Eastern US) as symbols even though there's a danger in doing it. I'll post it if I ever find it again...
posted by rmm at 9:57 AM on July 5, 2007


The regional popularity of a brand has NOTHING to do with its quality, lets get that out of the way. As with Old Style in Chicago and Tastykakes in Philly, it's just whatever slop you grew up on.

That said, DD starting sucking for me when they cut out the counter guy serving coffee in those crockery mugs at your barstool. Where do cops even go now?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:58 AM on July 5, 2007


Dunkin' Donuts:Donuts::McDonald's:Hamburgers.
posted by MarshallPoe at 10:02 AM on July 5, 2007


pupdog - I took DU's comment to mean his own stupidity.. i.e. the fact that there are 5 within 10 miles of his house, and 32 within 10 miles of his work, and yet he never noticed that D&D was popular in the region.

Yeah, I could see that. Oops.

Maybe it's low blood sugar, perhaps I should have a Boston Kreme...

posted by pupdog at 10:02 AM on July 5, 2007


I just want to be the only person on here to say I like Dunkin Donuts coffee. When I used to live in New England I even bought bags of it to take home.
posted by escabeche at 10:04 AM on July 5, 2007


I was on a business trip to Boston several years ago with a couple of colleagues, and we marveled at the abundance of Dunkin' Donuts stores. One of us could by lying down in the back seat and randomly call out "Double-D" and we'd be passing a store most of the time.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:05 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ask yourself this:

Why do we cheer for a baseball team that hadn't won a World Series in 84 years?

If you can answer that, you can answer the question of why we still go to Dunkin Donuts.
posted by briank at 10:06 AM on July 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


My brother's wife is from Boston and loves DD as described in the article, especially the coffee (and all you trolls putting it down are a bunch of effete snobs); she was overjoyed to move east again after a stint out west away from DD, but swears the coffee is not the same outside Boston. Since my family is from GA, she married into a Krispy Kreme family, but the mixed marriage seems to be working out okay.
posted by TedW at 10:08 AM on July 5, 2007


God, I miss living in New England sometimes.
posted by dame at 10:08 AM on July 5, 2007


I laugh most heartily at your suggestion of what constitutes reality.

I must admit I have never seen on online donut order form before. I wonder if I could get them shipped to Canada.
posted by GuyZero at 10:12 AM on July 5, 2007


Donuts and religion came to a head in my family when the church we attended had a DD next door. After my mom walked up to the alter with the rest of the choir, my dad and I would sneak out for donuts. We kept an eye on the clock so we'd be back before the service ended to smile at mom as the choir processed out of the church. She always wondered why we sat in the back, and once busted, it was front and center for us.
posted by hoppytoad at 10:14 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Disclaimer: I'm not just an anti-success hippie. I prefer Starbucks coffee for instance.

Why do supposedly well-educated Americans have a thing about Starbucks? It's ghastly lowest common denominator crap. It's the worst of all the major coffee chains. It's like calling John Grisham literature. It's coffee for people who don't like coffee. Please, for your own sake, buy some decent Italian espresso and make yourself a proper coffee. See what you think. Then, if you still want a pint of overpriced sweet beige milk go ahead.

I have warmer feelings towards Dunkin Doughnuts. I spent three hours trapped in one during a monsoon in Legapsi the Philippines eating Doughnut holes and drinking coffee. It was warm and dry and I couldn't ask for much more.
posted by rhymer at 10:15 AM on July 5, 2007


@du: it's hard to tell if you're being intentionally obstinate or what. I grew up in (and still live in) MA. Dunkin' Donuts is everywhere. To deny this fact seems ... well ... contrary to reality.

Long before Starbucks even existed, there were places in MA with 5 or 6 DDs in a 1 mile radius. I have lived in places that are easily within 5 miles of 20-30 DDs. I fairly recently lived near a major road with I think 3 DDs in a half mile on that one road. I currently live less then a quarter of a mile from a DD that sits across the street from a supermarket that has a DD in it, just in case.

I have also, in my life, known hordes of people for whom DD is a daily ritual. I'm not personally one of them (though I occasionally go on the weekend), but seriously, when a DD came to my town when I was a child, the resulting traffic on the main road it was situated on more than quadrupled. The whole area became impossible to drive through in the morning because of how many people wanted to get their coffee fix at DDs. People in MA are crazy about their Dunkin' Donuts.

You say you "see" 3 of them on a 40 mile commute to work. How many do you pass within a quarter mile of? I'd guess far, far more. A quick search on google maps says there are 8,672 DDs in or near Massachusetts. How many of those do you think you drive by every day?
posted by tocts at 10:17 AM on July 5, 2007


My first job after college was at Dunkin' Donuts. I lasted an hour and a half. At that point, a wise old man came in and ordered soup. After watching me work for a few minutes he called me over and simply said, "Young man, learn to say 'no'." I thanked him, walked out and never looked back. I still remember him with gratitude. I've never been inside a Dunkin' Donuts since then, and hopefully never will.
posted by trip and a half at 10:24 AM on July 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


Plutor, thank you for the term "anti-success hippie".
And the DD thing is all about smell. You can smell that DD coffee smell from a distance of, like, infinity.
posted by Mister_A at 10:29 AM on July 5, 2007


The last time I went to Dunkin Donuts I told the woman behind the counter that I wanted my coffee "black." She asked, "How much cream and sugar?" I told her, "Just black." And again she asked, this time with annoyance, "So HOW MUCH CREAM AND SUGAR?!"

Now I get my java at the Irving Station.
posted by suki at 10:31 AM on July 5, 2007


I just want to be the only person on here to say I like Dunkin Donuts coffee.

Well, I'm afraid you didn't get what you want. Maybe next time.
posted by agregoli at 10:35 AM on July 5, 2007


Too bad there aren't any here in California. (No actual DD locations anywhere near the Silicon Valley, anyway. And yes, I've looked. Even called the corporate offices.)

It's nice that many of them are open 24/7. We lack many 24/7 things out here.
posted by drstein at 10:39 AM on July 5, 2007


Tim Hortons iced caps... mmm...and Tidbits!

Timbits. Not Tidbits. Saying tidbits is like flying the Canadian flag upside down.
posted by srboisvert at 10:45 AM on July 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


So many people like Starbucks - and for that matter, DD, because it's above what the -average- American drinks or used to drink.

A story, by me.

My mom is the average American coffee drinker. Loads her coffee up with milk and sugar, drinks Folgers Crystals, from microwaved water. This is what MOST PEOPLE used to drink.

What happened? What happened is that a lot of people like me gave their Folgers Crystals drinking family and friends a visit to Starbucks, or a Starbucks card, or whatever and now instead of using those freeze-dried bricks of ashy grounds, they have little home grinders or pop down to the local coffee place.

Compared to the Real Thing From Italy, yes, those coffees and sweetened coffee drinks are gross. But to people who've spent their lives drinking what used to pass for coffee in this country, Starbucks, DD, etc, are -really- good.

I can drink coffee with my mom now. I can visit with her and drive somewhere and ask her to get me something or volunteer to get her something and we both know it won't be totally gross, because there is -something- at those places that we can both drink.
posted by FritoKAL at 10:47 AM on July 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


several years ago, i remember listening to an interview on npr with a dunkin donuts executive (a quick google fails to find the actual interview) about the rise of krispy kreme. said executive was asked whether or not he was concerned with the inroads that KK seemed to be making into what the interviewer assumed was DD's core business: donut sales. the executive pretty much shrugged off the question and said he wasn't concerned about KK at all due to the fact that roughly 70% of any given DD franchisee's business was done entirely in drinks - coffee (iced or hot), coolattas, various other slushie drinks, etc. the donuts, bagels, sandwiches, etc. are pretty much just there as impulse purchases as far as DD was concerned.
posted by the painkiller at 10:52 AM on July 5, 2007


In our Boston office we have separate pots labeled for Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks, so divisive was the question of which brand to buy.
posted by nev at 10:54 AM on July 5, 2007


If you want quality donuts, there's the Fractured Prune which are far and away the best donuts. But at $1.85 a pop (here in DC at least) they're not going to get that blue collar crowd even though they're not really marketed as "upscale". You choose your toppings and the donut isn't made until you place your order.

and nothing beats washing one of those down with a hot cup o' Sanka. mmmmmmm.....
*ducks & runs*

posted by Challahtronix at 11:04 AM on July 5, 2007


No one gets it... The single reason Dunkin Donuts is the institution that it is...NO TIPPING!. Yes in your father's day Dunkies was proud that they did not allow tipping. So a nickel cup of coffee was really a nickel. This frugality has been passed down through the ages. Sure some renegade Dunkies have a tip cup, but other than the random useless penny that cup will never see any of my change.
posted by Gungho at 11:07 AM on July 5, 2007


I loved this article, mostly because I'm in KCMO and DD is just one of the many (many many MANY) things I miss about Boston.

I think we can dispense with all of the "crap coffee/crap donuts/effete this/stupid that" talk - as mentioned in a few places, it's not about the food, exactly. Dunkin' Donuts is THE place anyone in Massachusetts went to get coffee or a donut (or bagels, or whatever) for years. The place you got that Sunday morning, hangover coffee. The place you stopped on your way to your first office job in town to get your morning pickup. The place you stopped at on your way to the Cape for the weekend. I haven't had a DD coffee for longer than I care to remember, but I'm tasting it right now, because I can't even tell you how many memories are connected to Dunkin' Donuts.

Dunkin' Donuts is a brand because of it's longevity, it ubiquity, and because it's hometown thing. It is quintessential Massachusetts. We love it because we love where we grew up or where we live, and it's part of that.

And for the record? Medium, light, two sugahs.
posted by jennaratrix at 11:15 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I did a Google Maps search of Dunkin Donuts near my house.

Results 1 - 10 of about 4,819 for Dunkin Donuts.

Make sure you take a gander at the second page because you'll see just how many Dunkin Donuts we have that are practically right next to eachother.

There are too many variations of "You know you're a Rhode Islander when (something something something) Dunkin Donuts." to list.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:15 AM on July 5, 2007


I'm a Boston native, but Dunkin' Donuts is not part of my religion. I take my coffee black, and I'll tell you this about DD coffee: it's not great, but it's OK. It's always OK, because they don't let it sit on an overheated hotplate for hours, the way most fast-food restaurants do. I've stopped at a McDonalds drive-through for coffee that I then dumped on the ground, it was so bad. DD coffee is also not the scorched, tongue-shriveling crap they produce at Au Bon Pain, or Starchucks, or any of the other places that force you to add a bunch of adulterants just so you can get it down. I've bought fresh-brewed ABP 'coffee' while waiting for a flight out of Logan that I took back for a refund. Awful stuff. With DD, I know what to expect. It isn't the best but it's always good enough.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:15 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have no particular animosity toward DD, but as a native North Carolinian, I object most strenuously to the foul slanders being perpetuated upon our state's most valuable natural resource, Krispy Kreme. Every high school band and club sold them for fundraisers for one simple reason: they're the platonic ideal of delicious.
posted by Rangeboy at 11:25 AM on July 5, 2007


It is quintessential Massachusetts.

Just like a Fribble at Friendly's.
posted by ericb at 11:26 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


the donuts, bagels, sandwiches, etc. are pretty much just there as impulse purchases as far as DD was concerned.

Makes sense to me - after all, they just changed their small logo into a cup of coffee instead of a donut.
posted by agregoli at 11:29 AM on July 5, 2007


I love DunkinD. Dunkin Donuts coffee is always fresh. It's Columbian, and it does have that Columbian taste, which I find a bit sour. They have cream, 1/2 & 1/2, whole milk, light milk & skim milk, sugar, equal or sweet & lo. They put in the milk and/or sugar for you - as much or little as you request. They may even have soy milk.

No getting lukewarm coffee from a carafe and stale milk from another carafe, and half the time the carafes are empty, and there's 6 people milling around and everybody's late for work. DunkinD coffee isn't my favorite, but it's made at the strength I like, and it's always the same, and they make it easy (although I liked it better when the medium cups were paper instead of styro, which gives an off flavor).

The servers at my local DunkinD are usually recent immigrants, so communication is interesting, but they don't have attitudes, and wouldn't answer to barrista. And, best of all, you can ask for small, medium or large, not Venti, Massivo, Enormolitolo, or what-the-hell-ever they call it at Starbucks, where every single bean is at least slightly burnt. Starbucks does have way nicer chairs.
posted by theora55 at 11:33 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


the donuts, bagels, sandwiches, etc. are pretty much just there as impulse purchases

yes, impulse purchases that TASTE LIKE THE COFFEE.

amirite
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 11:41 AM on July 5, 2007


There is a strong element of class to the preference between DD and *$, I think.

I've always thought that there was a very neat of the suburia/ "city" boundary with the market division of Tim Hortons (the DD cognate) and Starbucks in Canada. If there's a Tim's nearby, you're in the suburbs; if it's a Starbucks, you're downtown.

There's too much bleed now for this to be as geographically true as it was (at least in Canada), but I thinks it's still a signifier of the urbanite (*$) and the bourgoisie (DD/TH).
posted by bonehead at 11:42 AM on July 5, 2007


There's only one in Montpelier VT, but even that's a lot for a city with no McDonalds, Starbucks, Burger Kings, Dominos or Walmarts.

Donut preference- DD Bavarian Creme. KK waay too messy.
But apparently, Duncan Donuts is not about donuts.
posted by MtDewd at 11:49 AM on July 5, 2007


Holy cow, Civil_Disobedient, I spent my teenage years a couple miles from there, and ended many a late night with sunrise coffee & eggs at Congdon's.

I had no idea they were available online. A bit of my youth just came home to me.
posted by Elsa at 11:49 AM on July 5, 2007


Most Bostonians like Dunkin Donuts because they're ignorant provincals who have never been exposed to the real thing. It's a testament to the power of marketing and age that an entire city of a million people really believe donuts are these hard, over-glazed, super sweet edible rocks when in fact they are the complete opposite. I periodically re-educate Boston friends by taking them to the 'Donut Diner' at 9th and 7th in Park Slope, Brooklyn and I extend this offer to all the poor sops trapped in the Boston metropolitan area.
posted by nixerman at 11:55 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Interesting thing about Connecticut and Starbucks: Starbucks has made headway primarily in the richer areas (admittedly many towns, but not the entire state as you people seem to think). You only see them in upscale sections of town and in the better malls. Everywhere else, of course, it's D&D all the way. Sort of highlights the classism that's such a problem in CT.

I was really surprised when I moved down to DC and saw drive-thru Starbucks, Starbucks in Safeways, all manner of egalitarian Starbucks. I promptly found the two D&D's in the Dupont area. Their coffee isn't fantastic, but it's palatable, whereas drinking acrid Starbucks coffee feels like my stomach lining has been obliterated, the organ itself reduced to Swiss cheese.

And their donuts don't give you the impression that your insides are being coated with lard, unlike Krispy Kreme.
posted by landedjentry at 11:57 AM on July 5, 2007


Many (if not most) are independently and locally owned, and support their local communities.

I wonder where you get the first part of that conclusion. The Dunkin' in the small Maine town I live is owned by Haverhill, Massachusetts-based Scrivanos Group, which as of last count owns more than 125 Dunkin' Donuts shops.
posted by SteveInMaine at 11:57 AM on July 5, 2007


And, best of all, you can ask for small, medium or large, not Venti, Massivo, Enormolitolo, or what-the-hell-ever they call it at Starbucks

Dunkin Donuts television ad: "Delicious lattes from Dunkin Donuts. You order them in English, not Fratalian."

And who could ever forget Fred ("Time to make the dougnuts") the Baker - 1, 2, 3
posted by ericb at 11:57 AM on July 5, 2007


One of my first and most solid experiences with the frustrations of having moved to Boston from the South was trying to order black coffee at Dunkin Donuts. (It only took a couple trials to learn that when they asked if I wanted it "regular," they were going to put stuff in it, so I moved on to "black" from there.)

Me: "I'd like a black coffee, please." [Take a sip, spit-take.] "Um, there's sugar in my coffee."

DD chick: "Yeah, you said you wanted it black."

Me: (Sadly.) "I don't understand this city."

Finally learned to order "a cup of coffee with NOTHING ELSE IN IT," and that usually worked. I'm still not sure what the proper terminology is for a cup of unadulterated coffee.

Anyway, I think the article is onto something about the appeal of Dunkin Donuts to working class people. They've moved into NW Indiana now. My family there, all of whom are somehow affiliated with the steel mills, positively love the coffee -- they even give out bags of it as christmas gifts. (Blech.)
posted by mudpuppie at 11:58 AM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


If I never drink another cup of ass nasty Double Dizzle it will be too soon. In Philly Dunkin Donuts is the ghetto coffee shop, the only vendor brave enough to open branches on Lehigh Avenue, Kensington Avenue, Allegheny Avenue...basically every economically depressed and drug swamped major thoroughfare I find myself on all day, sometimes every day, for work. I'm such a hopeless caffeine addict that I go back for more, despite the fact that the shit practically makes me gag at this point.

Thankfully the powers of gentrification have brought a couple independent joints with fair trade products to the Fishtown neighborhood directly south of the neighborhoods where I work. I can stop on my way into the zone for one last decent cup of java before having to settle for Dunkin Donuts the rest of the day. This has practically saved me from suicide the past couple months.
posted by The Straightener at 12:01 PM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


mudpuppie -- and don't order a milkshake, if what you really want is a frappe! ; )
posted by ericb at 12:03 PM on July 5, 2007


I'm still not sure what the proper terminology is for a cup of unadulterated coffee.

Black, no sugah.
posted by jennaratrix at 12:09 PM on July 5, 2007


Friendly's now THAT brings back memories. Unfortunately, bad ones - I worked at a Friendly's. I'll never drink a Fribble again, which is a damn shame, because I loved them.

Not that I have to worry about that now - no Friendly's in KC, either. I kind of hate it here.
posted by jennaratrix at 12:11 PM on July 5, 2007


Heaven on a Muggy Worcester Morning
by Rollbiz:

-Large iced Dunkin' French Vanilla
-Regular sugar, just a touch of cream
-Sugar melted with a little hot coffee before the rest goes in (not that liquid sugar crap they try to pawn)
posted by rollbiz at 12:11 PM on July 5, 2007


the first American cities I ever visited was Boston, for an entire summer. imagine my surprise when I later began to travel around the US and realized that Dunkin Donuts wasn't exactly as omnipresent as, say, McDonald's or Burger King.
posted by matteo at 12:18 PM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have never had DD give me a 'black' coffee with sugar in it, but I only drink the stuff about six times a year.

There's a comment up there calling Bostonians "ignorant" because of their taste in donuts. That's amusing, coming from someone who overstates the city's population by almost a factor of two. Ignorant, indeed.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:21 PM on July 5, 2007


Thankfully the powers of gentrification have brought a couple independent joints with fair trade products to the Fishtown neighborhood directly south of the neighborhoods where I work. I can stop on my way into the zone for one last decent cup of java before having to settle for Dunkin Donuts the rest of the day. This has practically saved me from suicide the past couple months.

Dunkin' Donuts offers Fair Trade products as well. And it's a waste of effort to kill yourself-- you're in Philadelphia, so someone else will be happy to kill you without your having to lift a finger.
posted by Mayor Curley at 12:21 PM on July 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


DD - get an iced coffee and a bagel. Hot coffee only if you're freezing, donuts only if you like neon colored food.

KK - get one glazed donut - more than that will make you die. They make the worst coffee ever made and don't really sell much else.

Tim Hortons - get a medium coffee and maybe a donut if you're hungry. The bagels are like death.

Where I lived in central New Hampshire, we had about 5 Dunkin' Donuts within a couple of miles when I was in high school. To put this in perspective, we only had ONE Subway and didn't get a Wal-Mart until I was in high school. It was basically the only chain store we had more than one of. People actually did give directions to places using DDs as a reference point. Now, there are even MORE of them down there.

Tim's, Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks are all important in cold places because we have to endure cold, miserable winters. Without these cultish coffee shops, we would have nothing to keep us warm on a cold commute and nowhere to meet up with people in any given part of town.

I remember in Florida there was a DD right next to a bar, and one of my friends happened to know that exactly at 1:00am they would throw the day's donuts into the dumpster and start baking new ones. It was like watching zombies marching to feed as all the drunks wobbled over to grab the boxes of donuts out of the dumpster.
posted by SassHat at 12:29 PM on July 5, 2007


Many (if not most) are independently and locally owned, and support their local communities.

I wonder where you get the first part of that conclusion. The Dunkin' in the small Maine town I live is owned by Haverhill, Massachusetts-based Scrivanos Group, which as of last count owns more than 125 Dunkin' Donuts shops.


Well, DD doesn't hand out the data, the best I can find is that there are just over 7000 outlets, and over 5000 franchisees, and zero corporate (DD) owned stores. So yeah, I'll grant you there's folks out there owning several stores, but it's generally not large conglomerates, but independent business owners or small partnerships. Apparently DD requires multiple unit guarantees for some areas, so maybe not every store is individually owned, but the majority still seem to be owned by 'locals', as opposed to a global brand like Starbucks, which doesn't franchise at all.
posted by pupdog at 12:44 PM on July 5, 2007


Couple things:

I'm a mostly-lifelong Northeasterner, and yeah, people here are pretty serious about their Dunkin. Personally, I think it's just another sign of regional identity growing stronger in a backlash against nationwide/global branding. Anything with a hint or sliver of authenticity in its history or presentation is winning loyal emotional support in the marketplace. I would pair that, too with the fact that there seems to be a particular surge of regional identity and pride going on in New England right now. Part of it has to do with the Sox, but New Englanders are really feeling their oats these days in a lot of ways, really asserting a strong regional identity with a grittier, more working-class sensibility than what New England had twenty years ago, when it was a stodgy, conservative Preppyland in the eyes of many. Note that Hood Ice Cream just introduced a line of New England regional flavors like Maine Wild Berry and Vermont Maple Nut and Martha's Vineyard Raspberry. It also explains the revival and resurgence of once-defunct .Narragansett Ale. Regionalism is huge, and New England is bursting with it right now.

The first field trip I can remember taking, in kindergarten, was to Dunkin' Donuts. We left the church basement holding hands a walked a few blocks to the local store. This was definitely in the days when they had bakers in each store - our baker greeted us, took us around behind the counter (oh insider thrill!) and through into the kitchen. He showed us trays the size of sleds loaded with row on row of just baked donuts. He showed us how they iced donuts (by dipping in luscious vats of icing, upside down), and then he let us fill our own jelly donuts, using this nifty squirter machine. You thrust a solid, light donut onto the squirter to inject the jelly. Imagine the thrill of learning how such a mysterious thing was made.

The article makes much of Dunkin's defensive posture against Starbucks, but the vaunted DD 'psychographics' are less a factor, in my mind, than the fact that today's coffee buyers have been living with this brand for 50 years. I can remember, as a kid, it was a damn special Sunday when that pink box showed up on the breakfast table. When I was given the privilege of donut selection, there was much, much deliberation over the choice. Everyone had a favorite, and had to have at least one, but we also had to provide an assortment of filled vs. toroid, jelly vs. creme, iced vs. sugared. Composing a dozen was a fine art. There's a huge nostalgia factor at play - Dunkin is about a treat, about familiarity, about memories of childhood, about home and region. Starbucks can't ask for that identity; it's a grownup store, and, let me hasten to point out, a lot more expensive. A donut costs less than a buck. A dry, processed, boring Starbuckian pastry runs you $2.10-3.50.

I don't eat donuts much anymore (I made the mistake of reading the nutrition info on my favorite, chocolate creme, about ten years ago, and...I'm afraid that was all she wrote). But I do love Dunkin' for traveling purposes. They have bathrooms and they're located at practically every other highway exit in all New England. They do iced coffee really well. Even though I drink my coffee at home a lot darker and fuller-bodied, with milk only, a great occasional treat for me is to get DD Hazelnut with cream and sugar. It's a dessert. Hint: don't watch when they spoon four or five heaped coffee spoons' worth of sugar into your medium.

Coffee as fuel. Coffee as lifestyle. Which you choose is up to you, but very few people choose both.

Eh, I don't really think it's so cut and dried. I'm no big fan of Starbucks, but I do like to sit in cafes now and then and I also patronize the occasional Dunkin's. I don't really think I'm casting a vote about my identity by doing either - instead, I'm choosing between two disparate experiences, based on my priorities at the moment.

Aside: When I lived in Connecticut, we patronized a small local chain called Bess Eaton Donuts (get it?). The coffee at Bess Eaton was actually better donut-shop coffee than Dunkin's, though the donuts were pretty lousy. Their distinctive hallmark, however, was that they printed Bible verses on all the styrofoam cups. Eat donuts, be saved! They were bought out and eventually replaced by Tim Horton's, and the staff grumbled about having to wear the cartoonish Tim Horton's uniform. Wish I'd saved some of those cups. Whenever I had out of town visitors and we did a coffee run, I enjoyed watching them weird out my visiting friends and family.
posted by Miko at 12:55 PM on July 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


There's a deep human impulse, no doubt an inheritance of our evolutionary past, to divide everyone into two groups and take sides. As soon as the Guelphs beat the Ghibellines (sp?) in medieval Italy they divided into the White Guelphs and the Black Guelphs and kept right on fighting. People always have to have an enemy. In my case it's Dunkin over Starbucks, Coke over Pepsi, MySpace over Facebook, OSU over Michigan, Red Sox over Yankees, Mac over PC, Beatles over Elvis, Democrats over Republicans. Depending on where you grew up and how you make your living, it's going to be something different.

The pathetic thing is how all of the rivalries I've identified above (including the ones I feel genuine passion about, like OSU-Michigan) are tiny narcissism-of-small-differences affairs that only underline the lack of real choice and thought in the decisions that I make. I know I sound like a freshman who's just discovered Howard Zinn, but it really does seem like these easy dichotomies have the effect of preventing me from thinking about what a real meaningful choice might look like.
posted by sy at 1:03 PM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


And who could ever forget Fred ("Time to make the dougnuts") the Baker.

Thanks. That "Time to make the doughnuts!" meme has been so pervasive since it arrived that I always assumed everyone knew it - not realizing it's Northeasterners only who can remember that commercial. It's no "Where's the beef?" or "This is not your father's [Oldsmobile or whatever witticism you want to insert]", even though the level of saturation of the saying seemed to approach those other ad-inspired jokes.

I still say "Time to make the doughnuts!" occasionally when the alarm goes off in the morning, or a break starts to go too long, and only recently through hanging out with non-northeasterners have I learned that, as a colloquialism, it makes no sense to people from other places.
posted by Miko at 1:07 PM on July 5, 2007


Recently, on a weekday morning I ran into a neighbor who was standing in front of Starbucks holding a Grande. We said hi, and I asked what he was up to. He replied ... "Ahhh, I'm just waiting for my wife, motioning across the street. She goes to Dunkin Donuts."
posted by RMD at 1:11 PM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


FAST Company: It's Not About the Doughnuts -- "The Strategy: Time to Ditch the Donuts."

New York magazine: Average Joe -- "New York is suddenly brimming with Dunkin’ Donuts stores. And with a Starbucks on every corner, a coffee class war is brewing."
posted by ericb at 1:15 PM on July 5, 2007


Donuts! The worst of all pastries. Yep, worse than scones. Not that I even dignify coffeeshop bread things with the term "pastry." Treatment is everything and it is a fine line from pastry to bread thing. Me, I blame the market, of course.
posted by furiousthought at 1:17 PM on July 5, 2007


we patronized a small local chain called Bess Eaton Donuts

Like Dunkin Donuts, Bess Eaton started as a Rhode Island company with shops in R.I., Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Back in 2004: Dunkin' Donuts parent fights Bess Eaton offer
Allied Domecq PLC's Dunkin' Donuts, the world's largest coffee and baked goods restaurant chain, is fighting Wendy's International Inc.'s plan to buy bankrupt Bess Eaton Donut Flour Co. and expand its Tim Hortons restaurants.

Wendy's this month offered to buy Bess Eaton's 48 coffee and doughnut restaurants in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island for $35 million after Bess Eaton filed for bankruptcy. Bess Eaton has asked US Bankruptcy Judge Arthur N. Votolato to approve Wendy's offer as the bid to beat at auction.

'An open and fair bid and auction process' for the asset sale is needed 'with limited restrictions being placed on bid procedures, and leaving the resolution of which bid is best to the court and not' to Bess Eaton, Dunkin' Donuts said in an objection filed Monday in US Bankruptcy Court in Providence.

Dunkin' Donuts said in the filing it is studying Bess Eaton's assets to prepare its own offer, signaling a possible bidding war. A group of Dunkin' Donuts franchisees is also exploring a buyout.

The court fight comes as Dunkin' Donuts faces increased competition from Tim Hortons and others such as Starbucks Corp. and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. Dunkin' Donuts, owned by Bristol, England-based Allied Domecq, has more than 5,800 locations in the United States and 29 other countries.

Allied bought the Randolph company in 1989. Competitor Wendy's is expanding its Tim Hortons unit, which is the largest Canadian-based coffee and fresh baked goods restaurant. It operates 2,343 stores in Canada and 184 in the United States. The chain accounts for about 40 percent of Dublin, Ohio-based Wendy's profit."
Wendy's did end up acquiring Bess Eaton.
posted by ericb at 1:24 PM on July 5, 2007


Dunkin is about a treat, about familiarity, about memories of childhood, about home and region. Starbucks can't ask for that identity; it's a grownup store...

Very salient point!
posted by ericb at 1:25 PM on July 5, 2007


I'll never drink a Fribble again, which is a damn shame, because I loved them.

As a kid, a Fribble and a grilled cheese* sandwich at Friendly's was manna from heaven.

* - What kind of cheese do they use? As a kid, I thought no other sandwich came anywhere near that of the perfection of a Friendly's grilled cheese.
posted by ericb at 1:32 PM on July 5, 2007


What kind of cheese do they use? As a kid, I thought no other sandwich came anywhere near that of the perfection of a Friendly's grilled cheese.

Friendly's is really unique that way. As a kid, I was very excited to eat there. As an adult, it's almost the last chain I would ever patronize. But I do still crave a Fribble every once in a while.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:40 PM on July 5, 2007


I grew up in Massahooey, near many Dunkins (and several delightful Honey Dews).

Dunkin Donuts coffee was better than anything else at all that any reasonable person could get, back in the olden days when Starbucks was just Apollo's friend. Well, the rest of the world has caught up and, in many cases overtaken DuDo's. Their coffee, when well-made, is still pretty good. I enjoy it every time I am back east.

I live in Austin now and there is ONE weird Dunkin Donuts shop. It's far from me but I stop by when I am in the neighborhood. It's not quite right, though. It's almost like a counterfeit Dunkin Dontus. I think being so remote from the massive concentration of Dunkies makes them unable to do things the real Dunkin way, and the product suffers from it. It's always busy though, which is a good sign for expansion.

Also there is, just a few blocks from my house, a Donut shop that very clearly was a Dunkin Donuts stand alone shop, vintage 1985 (the Crockery mugs era StupidSexyFlanders mentions). I guess the company tried to make a go of things out here at some point...

Oh, and Dunkin Donuts DONUTS are much better than anything but the very first fresh hot Krispy Kreme you ever ate. KK has nowhere to go but downhill for each customer.
posted by dirtdirt at 2:13 PM on July 5, 2007


Ah, what I wouldn't give for a box of Munchkins right now.
posted by tristeza at 2:18 PM on July 5, 2007


Ah, what I wouldn't give for a box of Munchkins right now.

How to 'win friends and influence people:' bring a box or two of Munchkins to your next staff meeting, study group, choir rehersal, book club, etc.
posted by ericb at 2:23 PM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Dunkin Donuts coffee was better than anything else at all that any reasonable person could get, back in the olden days

That is a very true and important point - it used to be the most superior coffee available. Even now, as someone said above, relative to fast-food or gas station coffee, it really doesn't suck.
posted by Miko at 2:34 PM on July 5, 2007


yes, oops, 'most superior' is redundant.
posted by Miko at 2:34 PM on July 5, 2007


jennaratrix, you have Lamar's in KCMO which has -- and I say this as a Canadian -- the best coffee and donuts in the world.
posted by scruss at 2:38 PM on July 5, 2007


CoffeeFilter.
posted by The Bellman at 2:44 PM on July 5, 2007


Lamar's is VERY good, someone brings their donuts in on Friday just about every week. But that kind of illustrates my point; Lamar's isn't a religion for me the way DD is for a lot of people, and it's not because of the donuts. It's the whole thing, and the quirkiness of New Englanders. I talk about that a lot since moving, because I've experienced some pretty major culture shock since getting here. I just don't see the same, I don't know, SOMETHING in the people here as I do back home. No love of the home team (Royals); and it's not just because they suck, because dog knows, the Sox were nothing to write home about for a lot of years, but Fenway always had a crowd. No love of local traditions bordering on zealotry (with the exception of gun ownership and fireworks, a subject close to my mind right now). I don't know what it is exactly; I guess it's just not "home."

Damn you, scruss, now I want a Lamar's donut...
posted by jennaratrix at 3:14 PM on July 5, 2007


I still say "Time to make the doughnuts!" occasionally when the alarm goes off in the morning, or a break starts to go too long, and only recently through hanging out with non-northeasterners have I learned that, as a colloquialism, it makes no sense to people from other places.

Hee, me too, and my husband thinks I'm insane. Glad to hear I'm not the only one who does that!
posted by jennaratrix at 3:15 PM on July 5, 2007


ericb, as to the cheese - just your standard yellow American cheese, if I recall, it may have been Land o' Lakes.
posted by jennaratrix at 3:18 PM on July 5, 2007


"Time to make the doughnuts!"

Michael Vale: The Inside Story of Fred the Baker. R.I.P.
posted by ericb at 3:23 PM on July 5, 2007


Starbucks pretends they serve real coffee and their customers pretend they're drinking it. Someone has to blink soon.
posted by rhymer at 3:31 PM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


You people ragging on DD have probably never had to drive through the midwest. Just try to get a good cup of coffee anywhere east of Ohio and west of the Rockies (Iowa City is one of the few exceptions I can think of). In Nebraska they used to talk about how the pioneers would use their socks to brew coffee. If the colored water they call coffee weren't bad enough, it's damned-near impossible to get real fucking cream. Your choices are ten different flavors of creamer, and milk. Fucking milk.

The east coast doesn't fetishize coffee as much as the west, which is why DD is perfectly acceptable to us. If you want the fancy cup of coffee, you do it right. Not fucking Starbucks. No, you go down to Pulchari's in the North End and get a pound of Columbian, brew it right (not on a hot plate), get some fresh light cream and/or sugar if you like.

But, you see, doing it right takes time. And when you're heading off to work, you don't have that time, so you just get a cup of good 'ol reliable and don't sweat it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:20 PM on July 5, 2007


Polcari's in the North End.

My 4-year-old begs to go to Friendly's whenever she sees one. For the grilled cheese.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:00 PM on July 5, 2007


My 4-year-old begs to go to Friendly's whenever she sees one. For the grilled cheese.

Your daughter is a true connoisseur with exquisite taste!
posted by ericb at 5:26 PM on July 5, 2007


My first experience drinking coffee was during a summer mall job. We'd bring the deposit to the bank in the morning, then stop off at Dunkin's for coffee. Being a wimp, I never tried it black, but instead had them pour about 1/4 cup of sugar and even more cream into each cup. Yummy. Now I am doomed to a life of coffee so overly sweetened that I can't even taste the coffee in the cup.

But I'm also surprised that this has become a "cult" in recent years. I was out of New England for a few years, and could never get accostumed to the taste of Krispy Kreme after a lifetime of DD, but I didn't think much of it. Until I started hearing from friends in Denver and L.A. who counted DD as one of the things they missed most about home.
posted by saffry at 5:39 PM on July 5, 2007


Dunkin's OK. The Croissandwiches are good. If I'm really in the mood for great doughnuts I go here. When I lived in Bridgeport, I preffered this place to Dunkin'.
posted by jonmc at 6:15 PM on July 5, 2007


How sad that I'm finding this thread as it winds down for the night...I have the perfect image for it.
posted by Biblio at 6:55 PM on July 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


jonmc, they really call them croissanwiches? That's what Burger King called their thing in the early 80s. Such a genius name it was bound to get recycled I guess.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:16 PM on July 5, 2007


Greg Nog, Same experience here -- in fact my friend got fired from the DD in the Watertown (Mass) Mall for giving us free sandwiches in the late 80s.
posted by jdl at 7:49 PM on July 5, 2007


Dunkin Donuts are the best chain donuts short of the elusive (in New England) Tim Horton's.

All coffee is wretched, deplorable excrement.
posted by Eideteker at 7:57 PM on July 5, 2007


Miko writes "I still say 'Time to make the doughnuts!' occasionally when the alarm goes off in the morning, or a break starts to go too long, and only recently through hanging out with non-northeasterners have I learned that, as a colloquialism, it makes no sense to people from other places."

I grew up in New Mexico, and I saw those commercials. I could still pull that one out and people around here would recognize it.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:09 PM on July 5, 2007


And, yes, there are Dunkin Donuts in Albuquerque, at least. They used to compete with Winchell's, which died out in Abq. some years back.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:12 PM on July 5, 2007


jonmc, they really call them croissanwiches? That's what Burger King called their thing in the early 80s. Such a genius name it was bound to get recycled I guess.

True -- 'Croissandwich' was/is a product of Burger King.

I think jonmc misspoke. He was most likely referring to DD's Bacon Egg Cheese Croissant, Sausage Egg Croissant, Supreme Omelet on a Croissant, etc.

"Yummy-in-the-tummy," especially when "three-sheets-to-the-wind!"
posted by ericb at 9:13 PM on July 5, 2007


oh, the shame, srboisvert - you caught me! It is of course Timbit - my excuse is I've been out of Canada for 2 years.

(loving reading about people's regional preferences, btw)
posted by rmm at 10:31 PM on July 5, 2007


jennaratrix --

The KC answers to things you miss about New England are:

+ Lamar's
+ Winstead's
+ The Chiefs

And for pity's sake, enjoy the barbecue while you're there. I miss it soooo much. :(
posted by deCadmus at 11:52 PM on July 5, 2007


I'm still mourning the loss of my beloved Winchell's donuts after moving out East fourteen years ago. Their cake donuts with the pink frosting with sprinkles on it... nothing I've found out here matches that fat and sugar combo. Either the cake isn't buttery enough, or thick enough, or it just tastes wrong somehow.
posted by papercake at 4:48 AM on July 6, 2007


Ah, a wonderful thread. Thanks, MC for the link. As a native of the greater Beantown area, I grew up before the modern era of Dunkin Donuts' hegemony. But it was certainly a ritual part of daily or weekly life (certainly for Catholics, post-Mass). But of course, so was Friendly's Ice Cream, and so much else. I returned later in life and spent a lot of time in Irish Catholic blue collar circles in the 80s. And the DD cult was certainly already in place then, a Route 9 ritual. Rumor had it the coffee was secretly good -- people even bought it freshly ground by the pound, then quite a novelty, and debated whether DD or A&P (my friends called it "Stop and Pee") had the better bagged coffee.

All peoples have their heimlich foods, I'm convinced, and the very fact that other people find these foods odd or inedible or just banal can be the signature rationale for the "if you have to ask you'll never know" insider mentality. Scrapple, for Pennsylvanians; Haggis, for Scots; nasty-assed yeast paste for British-Empire Nostalgics adrift from the land of Oz. Because if you can't go home again, and especially if you don't want to go home again, food-borne nostalgia is an easy way to pay the debt to the identity club, and claim something special for yourself in a world in which choices proliferate only to disguise the absolute similarity that creeps over us every day.

Why the fuck does coffee even have to be "good?" One man's "good coffee" is another's over-roasted crap. Taste is not objective. It's like arguing about music. You think Italian coffee is good? I actually like American roadside diner coffee, kept a while in the glass pot, made from generic preground beans (still mostly Arabica) and with a careful appeal to a standard American taste preference. It's got a slightly vinegary acidity to it that works well with a cigarette, a slice of pie, or yes, a trans-faturated fucking french cruller or maple frosted donut.

That is the food that built the world we live in. Now it's all we have of the world of the builders of our world in many ways. Physical labor was respected differently, and doing it well and productively was a source of identity and pride, as well as brute necessity. Our palates and customs and physical infrastructures developed around the nobility of work and self-denial, such that even our guilty pleasures -- the after-work donut -- did not exceed the middle-class aspirations of the post-war working-class (lest it be found pretentious).

Now we've found ("we" being a relative term referring to the present company of literate, computer-using, mostly professionally employed, youthful-spirited rational-choicers, and yes that deserves a "Metafilter=" somewhere) that the prosperity toward which so much of that work was directed, the affluence it promised later generations ("us") was flawed, a false goal, a naive dream. We are no happier now that we have the time to dwell on the differences between Ethipian and Jamaican beans, and pay $3 for a cup of hot water run through them. We feel guilty, sometimes, to be alive now. A donut, and a bad cup of coffee, or for that matter a damn fine clice of cherry pie at a three-calendar roadside diner, is uncanny, a madeleine. We think we touch the past, but for a moment. We don't want to go back -- that's exactly why we savor the time-travel, and the reinforcement that we *come* from something humble, hard-working, non-affluent, common, vernacular, etc. It's the American story, and advertisers know how to tell its many variants to receptive regional and class (and ethnic) communities. On the other hand, as in this case, at least it creates some cultural bonds of accountability between capital and working people, between companies and places. This is a legacy worth preserving, perhaps.

I also like a little corporate humility. The fact that struck me in the article was the downplaying of DD's use of "fair trade" coffee. Odd, dissonant fact, since you'd think "working-class" people would favor trade policies that treat labor more fairly. But doing it *anyway,* despite the fact that your customers either don't care or actively disdain your fair trade/labor practices, is interesting. I'd like to know more about how DD treats its own workers and suppliers' workers.

PS -- I once spent some time traveling around the west with a rodeo cowboy (he was a roadie and driver for my band). Motherf*cker would stop at three or four gas stations in a row at 3 in the morning when he wanted coffee just to find the one that had the oldest, nastiest, most congealed and burned pot of coffee on the hot plate. He *preferred* it that way, and he drank it black. Now Wyoming (where he was from) is not New England, but what was up with that?
posted by spitbull at 5:23 AM on July 6, 2007 [3 favorites]


We are no happier now that we have the time to dwell on the differences between Ethipian and Jamaican beans, and pay $3 for a cup of hot water run through them.

Actually, I am happier to have some decent coffee available. I can remember when Dunkin's was the best.

Well written, and some good points made, but quality isn't a completely arbitrary function of differences in personal taste. Diner coffee can be quite good, but it can also make your tongue recoil in shock if it's scorched, stale, or made in an oily pot. Expensive coffee can be bad, but only if it's been badly roasted, badly brewed, or they started with bad beans. Quality has to be considered in relation to criteria, and if there are no criteria at all one can argue that all taste experiences are equally valuable. But once you put some criteria into place (freshness, mildness, acidity, body, temperature, convenience), then it is quite possible to distinguish better from worse. The upshot is what someone said upthread and what spitbull just said: there was a time in the not so distant past when DD was the best coffee available outside an Italian neighborhood in a big city, and when people discovered it, they went ape for it. It tasted better. That's why the loyalty.

Even today, when there are some better coffees easily available, DD compares pretty well and it's highly consistent.
posted by Miko at 6:02 AM on July 6, 2007


spitbull: "Why the fuck does coffee even have to be "good?" One man's "good coffee" is another's over-roasted crap. Taste is not objective. It's like arguing about music."

So? I can say The Carpenters are crappy music, and I can say Dunkin Donuts makes a poor cup of coffee. And you can say otherwise. It doesn't make opinions invalid just because they're opinions.
posted by Plutor at 8:04 AM on July 6, 2007


De gustibus non distputandans est. I agree, the choice is nice to have for us rational free choicers with enlightened palates (or rather, for y'all, because I *hate* Starbucks coffee and my favorite cup is made by a little Lebanese deli down the street, Guatemalan Antigua and some Kenyan AA, a little tiny bit of cinnamon added, made with love, and sold for 75 cents for a small cup. Fresh ground all day long too. My other favorites around the U.S. include some classic examples of traditional diner coffee, watery and sharp (the DD model). I have favorite espressos too. For supermarket coffee, I am convinced the humble Latino brand Pilon beats the shit out of Lavazza and Medaglia d'Oro. I am as much a coffee snob as anyone here, but just have eccentric tastes.

It is possible to make a high quality version of American-style diner coffee. I don't know if DD is that -- I never go into one these days -- but I've had plenty of goof coffee by the side of the American road.

I think everyone is underestimating the change in our coffee drinking habits that has been driven by the widespread abandonment of smoking, as well. For those of us who still do, there is a coffee/cigarette synergy that is very elusive indeed.

But I'm not saying absolute quality is arbitrary; merely that there are different scales, and tastes are cultural and symbolic.
posted by spitbull at 10:38 AM on July 6, 2007


"goof" coffee, of course = "good" coffee.

Once I was in a supermarket in Texas. It was a big one -- an HEB -- that served a mixed clientele of working-class Mexicans and Central Americans and white professionals. I entered to coffee aisle to discover the magnificent sight of a large and obviously Mayan family, in fairly traditional clothes, and presided over by an imperious matriarch who towered over her tiny husband, standing before the display of coffees. They took in the dozens of brands and possible formats (whole beans, ground beans in bags, cans, instants, bags, 10 kinds of filters) in what seemed like quiet amazement. Here were people from the land of coffee, where most of the brown powder in front of them came from, and they had never seen the simulacrum of choice most Americans face in the coffee aisle.

To my amazement, the matriarch silently pointed to the top shelf, which was evidently a command to her husband, who stepped forward, and reached as high as he could to just grab a bright orange canister of . . . Sanka instant crystals.

Damn right.
posted by spitbull at 10:43 AM on July 6, 2007 [1 favorite]


To my amazement, the matriarch silently pointed to the top shelf, which was evidently a command to her husband, who stepped forward, and reached as high as he could to just grab a bright orange canister of . . . Sanka instant crystals.

This is changing. I traveled to a number of coffee farms in Guatemala in 2005, and visited a number of markets there, too. While there is still a stomach-churning assemblage of instant coffee on the shelves, there's also a growing number of local coffees available in increasingly sophisticated packaging, including some in nitrogen-flushed bags sealed with a one-way valve, just as you'd find at your local grocer here. (La Pastores -- a producer just outside of Antigua -- is predominant among these, in no small part 'cause the owner of the farm is also Guatemala's largest distributer of bottled water. He was also my host for much of the trip, and I think he's a great guy. :)
posted by deCadmus at 1:41 PM on July 6, 2007


Plutor: Most people who like Dunkin Donuts coffee don't like coffee. They just want a sweet hot beverage.

Just noticed this. And the reasons Americans like Starbucks, where they tend to buy lattes and frappucinos much more than black coffee and straight shots of espresso, is NOT because they want a "sweet, hot beverage?" The coffee hardly matters. Most Starbucks fans like milkshakes, and that's what Starbucks gives them.
posted by spitbull at 8:32 AM on July 8, 2007


Most Starbucks fans like milkshakes, and that's what Starbucks gives them.

When Starbucks moved into the Boston area it bought out a smaller coffee chain, George Howell's Coffee Connection. Their most popular drink was the Frappuccino -- the name and recipe to which Starbucks then gained owenrship.
posted by ericb at 8:57 AM on July 8, 2007


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