Dunkin’s Run: A Love Story

Since opening the doors of its original shop 60 years ago, Dunkin’ Donuts has grown into an international juggernaut. Here’s why Bostonians don’t hold that against it.

By Francis Storrs | Boston Magazine |

McCarthy: It turned out that Krispy Kreme really couldn’t compete up here. After one or two doughnuts, you’d almost go into sugar shock. The product was not good for the Northeast palate. And they didn’t have a cup of coffee that people would go in for.

Kussell: We changed the store design to really declare our coffee credentials — it’s more brown, it’s got coffee merchandising inside, we brought the coffee cup back into the logo. We then needed to communicate through our advertising that we were America’s coffee brand.

John Gilbert, former marketing VP, Dunkin’: The first spot in the America Runs on Dunkin’ campaign was directed by Ridley Scott’s son, Jake Scott. It’s a town common and all these people are singing, “Doing things is what I like to do.”

Kussell: We had great original music.

Mike Sheehan, Hill Holliday CEO: I don’t know if we’re allowed to say who the band was. [To a colleague: Are we allowed to say who did the music?] We’re not.

Gilbert: I don’t think the band ever wanted to be cited for their work. I don’t care, they can’t do much to me — They Might Be Giants did the music. That’s who it was.

Sarah Avrin, They Might Be Giants publicist: I’m not sure they’re interested in being part of this piece.

Gilbert: Every ad had its own song. Like the one in the Starbucks setting, making fun of the venti and grande and all the things that they call it.

Sheehan: Rarely do you have a competitor as easy to poke fun at as Starbucks. It’s like poking fun at Thurston Howell. If I see an employee with a Starbucks cup in their hand at Hill Holliday they’ll be fired on the spot. I don’t know if that’s legal, but it’s true.

IN 1950 THE FIRST DUNKIN’ DONUTS customer stepped into Bill Rosenberg’s Quincy shop and spent 10 cents on a cup of coffee. Sixty years later, a regular costs a bit more and Dunkin’ now sells $5.7 billion worth of food and drinks every year. And yet a couple of things have never changed: The coffee tastes the same, and Dunkin’ Donuts remains a beloved New England institution.  

Travis: Our aim is to make New England proud of everything we do. Last year we opened more stores than just about any other fast-food company. Today we’ve got more than 9,000 Dunkin’ Donuts. Looking forward, we see a very steady growth from New England. But don’t expect us to make a dart into California anytime soon.

Kummer: There’s just something about the experience of being at a Dunkin’ Donuts that resonates with New Englanders.

  • Scott

    We all grew up on the sunday morning runs for fresh donuts, but that certainly is not their biz today. Donuts are made in a factory and just plain horrible. Most folks are just addicted to the caffeine these days to combat the no sleep they’re getting, aren’t they?

  • Robin

    Loved the article and also enjoyed the on-air interview on WRKO. I lived in Boston as a student in the 60′s! DD is the best and I will go no where else to buy my coffee and/or donuts! Thanks for the great article Francis! Long live DD!

  • Mike