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 |

Edna Demery: I was in the kitchen watching the baker, and I just thought of taking the center of the doughnut and throwing it in the fryolator. Then I would eat it — it wasn’t a whole doughnut, you know? We started making them for the employees, and then one day I put the plain ones in a little basket for samples. Finally we started selling them.

Demery: We didn’t sell too many, but then Edna put coconut on some of them, chocolate on some of them, some were cream-filled and jelly-filled — we had a whole showcase.

Rosenberg: We went down to visit Bob. He put mounds and mounds of these doughnut holes on gold trays. There was a tremendous demand. Eight, ten percent of his sales were now in these doughnut holes. The idea was terrific.

Kamerschen: It occurred to me that there was an opportunity to appeal to kids.

Rosenberg: We assigned Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, this startup advertising agency in Boston, to find a name. They came back and said, “Let’s call them Penny Poppers.” We didn’t want to get tied into a penny price, so they said, “With The Wizard of Oz on television every spring, we should call them Munchkins.” We found out that the name was already trademarked.

Larry Hantman, former general counsel, Dunkin’: We acquired the rights to the name on the cheap. I don’t remember exactly what we paid for it, but it was a good deal.

Rosenberg: We licensed the name for one dollar a year.

Boch: When I was I kid, I never knew how the hell doughnuts got the holes in them. When they first came out with Munchkins, we saw the baker with the punch, and we went, Ah, that’s how they do it.

Kamerschen: I remember watching families come in the day Munchkins launched. Kids got their Munchkins, and then the parents bought doughnuts and coffee. Franchisees started to see their sales grow. That was key in beginning to restore their confidence in the management team.

Rosenberg: The first ruling on the lawsuit found against us, but that was unanimously overturned on appeal.
 
McCarthy: After the suit, the company and the franchisees worked very closely together. It was like night and day.

Rosenberg: It was nothing but an upward movement after that.

  • 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