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.

 

dunkin donuts

ILLUSTRATION BY DGPH STUDIOS

OVER THE COURSE of six decades, Dunkin’ Donuts has grown from a single shop in Quincy to a multibillion-dollar behemoth. It’s expanded into 35 states and 31 countries, dramatically changed its menu, and even been unceremoniously sold to foreign conglomerates and faceless private equity firms. Through it all, though, Dunkin’ has somehow managed to retain a distinctly local feel. America may now run on Dunkin’, but it’s New England that can’t seem to live without it. So how did this chain — which by all rights should be just another fast-food joint — implant itself so deeply in our regional identity? On the 60th anniversary of the company’s founding, we asked New Englanders of all varieties to explain the enduring hold Dunkin’ Donuts has on us. Steve Siegel, former Dunkin’ franchisee: Look, there are more Dunkin’s per capita in Massachusetts than there are any other restaurant of its type anywhere. You see it everywhere, on television every day, on the radio every day. You’re born hearing it. Amanda Carey, Dunkin’ customer, Theater District: It’s very New England to me. It’s my homegrown coffee. I can look outside my window and see seven Dunkin’ Donuts. I’m not even kidding. Two of them in the same building. William Martin, novelist: Why do we love Dunkin’ Donuts? When my kids were little they knew that on Sunday afternoon my father would be coming to watch the Patriots, and Grandpa always brought their favorite doughnuts. Robert Kraft, owner, New England Patriots: My morning coffee ritual tends to change during the football season. When we win I like to go inside my local Dunkin’ Donuts for my “large with milk, no sugar.” When we lose, I go through the drive-through. Leonard Blanchette, Dunkin’ customer, Newton: I grew up Catholic, and my older sisters and I used to “go to Mass.” We’d go to Dunkin’ Donuts instead. I was nominated to run to the back of the church and grab the bulletin, to make it look like we went. My mother once asked who gave Mass, and my sister said, “Father Dunkin’.” Ernie Boch Jr., owner, Boch Automotive Enterprises: When we were kids, my family used to go to church, and then we’d buy the newspaper in front of the shop in Norwood. I’d sneak in and watch them make the doughnuts. Peggy Rose, owner, Peggy Rose Public Relations: I probably spend $1,000 a year there — coffee every day, the occasional bagel, doughnuts for the kids. Why am I doing this? I don’t care. I’m not giving it up. I’d rather give up cable. Johnny Lu, Dunkin’ customer, Back Bay: I come here every day. I don’t feel good without it. Eddie Napolillo, founder, “Let’s Bring Dunkin’ Donuts to Los Angeles” Facebook group: I grew up in Rhode Island. Working in construction, we would send a guy out for a Dunkin’ run. I don’t have that here in L.A. Tom Schwarz, former president, Dunkin’:  Dunkin’ Donuts is an icon today. But you don’t build customer loyalty overnight — it took 60 years to do it.

IN 1946, 30-YEAR-OLD Dorchester resident Bill Rosenberg borrowed $1,000 from his mother and started a company that ran cafeterias in factories and the Quincy shipyard. Rosenberg later experimented with new ways to deliver food to workers, including dreaming up a truck that has become a coffee-break fixture on job sites nationwide. Bob Rosenberg, former CEO, Dunkin’ (and Bill Rosenberg’s son): My father had pancake houses and vending machines and a delicatessen. He made a small investment in the Leaning Tower of Pizza. A lot of ideas appealed to him, so he tried lots of different things. Eddie Binder, former marketing VP, Dunkin’: He designed that canteen truck you see at construction sites, where the aluminum wings open up on each side. That way he could sell both hot and cold food. Ann Rosenberg, widow of Bill Rosenberg: We call them roach coaches. They didn’t exist before he designed them. Binder: The two bestselling products on the trucks were coffee and doughnuts. So in 1948 he opened up his first doughnut shop in Quincy. It was called Open Kettle. Will Kussell, former president, Dunkin’: In a world of 5-cent coffee he sold 10-cent coffee. He felt his coffee was better than anyone else’s. Jessica Keener, coauthor of Bill Rosenberg’s memoir, Time to Make the Donuts: The coffee wasn’t selling, so Bill said, “Offer it for free. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to pay for it.” They liked it. And they paid for it. Binder: He grew tired of the name Open Kettle, so he called a meeting of his executives. One of them was an architect, Bernard Healy. Lamont Healy, Bernard Healy’s son: They were having a brainstorming session, and my father said, “What do you do with a chicken? You pluck it. What do you do with a doughnut? You dunk it.” That’s where the name came from. Binder: So the store opened in 1950 as Dunkin’ Donuts…. I never asked why it was spelled “donut.” Healy: My father made the first sign in the cellar of our house — the “D” was about 10 feet high. If he’d spelled “doughnut” correctly, the writing would have been too small. “Dunkin’” isn’t spelled right, either. Rosenberg: Uncle Harry Winokur was my father’s partner. He and my dad did not get along. David Slater, Harry Winokur’s son-in-law: Winokur would say, “We’ve got six stores, we’ve got seven, that’s enough.” Bill would say, “I want 70.” After a while that became a problem with them. Ann Rosenberg: In our barn in New Hampshire, we had a picture of a couple of buzzards. The caption said, “Patience? Hell, I’m going to go out and kill something.” That was kind of Bill, you know? Bob Rosenberg: They finally broke up in 1955, and we bought Uncle Harry out for $350,000. He used that to start the Mister Donut chain. Slater: I became CEO of Mister Donut. It was an absolute carbon copy of Dunkin’ Donuts; the doughnut variety was 100 percent the same. But the Red Sox and Yankees don’t compete any harder than our two chains did. You couldn’t even dunk a doughnut at Mister Donut — you dipped them. Schwarz: Mister Donut, we sort of put out of business. We ultimately acquired them.

BILL ROSENBERG WAS EAGER to grow his young company. In 1955 he signed an agreement with a Worcester businessman to open the first Dunkin’ franchise. Dozens more would soon follow, but the relationship between franchisees and the corporate office would sometimes get tense in the decades to come. To guarantee consistent quality from franchisees, Rosenberg developed rigorous standards; the specifications for coffee beans alone stretched to 94 pages. Ann Rosenberg: Bill didn’t drive past a Dunkin’ Donuts. He had to stop and try the food, and then he would write a report to headquarters. Kevin McCarthy, former Operations VP, Dunkin’: When he was around, he was in charge. Sometimes the franchisee would come out from the back room and there’d be this huge guy throwing all the doughnuts out. Robert Demery, former Dunkin’ franchisee: Before I became a franchisee I was a night baker at the store in Natick. One morning this guy comes storming in the door — it was Bill Rosenberg. He didn’t like the doughnuts, and he dumped them out. Scared the hell out of everybody. “Don’t let the customers pay for our mistakes,” he said. That stayed with me a long time. Ann Rosenberg: But Bill tore most of his hair out because of the coffee. Corby Kummer, Boston food critic, author of The Joy of Coffee: When I was growing up in Connecticut in the late ’60s, Dunkin was an improvement over most home coffee. The fact that they threw it out after 18 minutes and didn’t let it sit on the burner was, in itself, a giant leap. Jim Coen, president of a Dunkin’ franchisees’ association: People always ask, “How does Dunkin’ brew the same coffee everywhere?” It’s a science, and they’ve perfected it — to make sure it’s brewed at the right temperature and in the exact right method. No human hands touch the water; it goes directly into the filtration system. Schwarz: The beans are delivered to the stores dated. They can’t use them 10 days beyond that date. George Zografos, franchisee: We’re made up of three different blends: Colombian, Brazilian, and a Guatemalan mix. It’s always been the same. Bob Rosenberg: We had to convince dairies to make fresh cream just for us — very few, if any, restaurants or supermarket customers used cream with such a high butterfat content. That’s all I want to say. I’m not anxious to educate our competitors about this part of the “special sauce.” Schwarz: It’s 18 percent butterfat content. The cream really does make a difference. Nigel Travis, CEO, Dunkin’: We’ve had the same coffee recipe since 1950.

IN 1963, AFTER MORE THAN A DECADE running Dunkin’, Bill Rosenberg turned over day-to-day management of the chain — which now featured 100 or so stores across New England — to his son Bob, who had just graduated from Harvard Business School. McCarthy: Bill had just an eighth-grade education. He knew he wasn’t the man to take the company to the next stage. Bob Rosenberg: I graduated on May 23, and on July 15 I became the CEO and president of Dunkin’. I was 25 years old. It was kind of a frightening prospect. Ann Rosenberg: When Bob first came in, Bill said something to him about the quality of the coffee in the office. Bobby said, “Well, I don’t drink coffee.” Bill said, “You damn well better drink it, or you’re gonna get it in an enema.” Bob Rosenberg: The first five years, it was a pretty good run. We went public in 1968. We were the third food-service company to go public, after McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken. We were the darling of Wall Street. And then I made some bad mistakes. DUNKIN’ BEGAN LOSING MONEY after aggressively expanding beyond its New England roots. The stock plummeted as the chain was forced to close roughly 100 stores. In 1972 a group of Philadelphia franchisees filed suit against the parent company, alleging that the financial terms of their contracts were unfair. There was talk of Dunkin’ being seized by its irate franchisees, or even going under. But the runaway success of a bite-size new product helped save the day. Kam Kamerschen, former marketing VP, Dunkin’: The franchisees felt the company was more interested in selling new locations than in building up the ones they already had. That created great mistrust and anger and led to the suit. McCarthy: If they prevailed, it would destroy the company. Kamerschen: There was a lot of fear. Think about it: The class-action suit was seeking four times the net worth of the company. Rosenberg: I was in a meeting in my office when we got word of the lawsuit. I excused myself and was sick. Kamerschen: For Bob the first couple of years, everything was wonderful. Then one day he wakes up and the stock price is $2.50. Rosenberg: You could buy a share of stock for the same price as a dozen doughnuts. I opened too many stores; I grew too fast. Schwarz, former president, Dunkin’: Rather than focusing in New England and the Mid-Atlantic, we went out West, we went into the Southeast. Texas was a disaster. Rosenberg: The board decided I should resign. I said, “Give me one more quarter. I think we can right the ship.” Kamerschen: We had to do something fast. Rosenberg: We had always sold doughnut holes, but only at Halloween. The franchisee in Hartford, Connecticut — Bob Demery — called me one day. He had been experimenting. Demery: It wasn’t me; it was my wife, Edna.

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.

DUNKIN’ HAD FINALLY LEFT years of acrimony behind and was eager to capitalize on its renewed success. The chain began airing national TV ads for the first time in the late 1970s. Sales increased by 15 percent in a single year. In 1982 viewers of Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson were introduced to Fred the Baker, a put-upon (yet outrageously dedicated) doughnut maker played by an actor named Michael Vale. Ron Berger, executive chairman, Euro RSCG Advertising: We had another actor in mind for Fred the Baker. But when Michael Vale said “It’s time to make the doughnuts” in the casting session, we just couldn’t stop laughing. We went with him, which turned out to be a home run. He was just brilliant. Nancy Vale, widow of Michael Vale: My husband gave him the name Fred because it just seemed to connote a nice, lovable guy. He was Fred, the guy next door. Rosenberg: I was flying back to Boston just after the commercial started airing. People were kibitzing, and one person said, “I’ve got to go back. It’s time to make the doughnuts.” Vale: It became like a mantra for people. I would tell my kids, “That’s why you’ve got to get up and go to school: Fred gets up and makes the doughnuts.” Dan Andelman, host, The Phantom Gourmet: I have a picture of me on Halloween when I was 11 years old dressed up as Fred the Baker. I had a mustache and flour all over my apron. Jack Shafer, former CEO, Dunkin’: I remember one time coming out of Rockefeller Plaza with Michael and there was Barbara Walters. People walked right past her to say hello to Fred. Binder: We did commercials with Senator Bob Dole, Mary Lou Retton, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Larry Bird. Vale: Michael played basketball with Larry Bird; he adored that. He was like a frustrated athlete himself. He never let me forget that he was a high school basketball champ, and he was all of 5-foot-8. Larry Bird, former Boston Celtic: Fred was short, but he knew how to dribble and shoot a basketball. It was an honor to shoot a commercial with a Boston icon. Binder: There was an autograph signing at a Special Olympics event, and Drew Bledsoe was at one table and Fred the Baker was next to him. Bledsoe’s line went back 50 or 100 people. Fred’s line went back for half a mile.

IN THE LATE 1980s Dunkin’ invested in the Chili’s restaurant chain. The move proved disastrous for Dunkin’s bottom line, sending the stock price into a spiral and leaving the company weakened. In 1989 a corporate raider launched a hostile takeover bid. Rosenberg fought to maintain control, but ultimately agreed to a friendly sale to the English conglomerate Allied-Lyons. The company, which later became Allied Domecq, settled on a tricky strategy that involved dramatically changing Dunkin’ while at the same time hewing to its New England identity. Tony Hales, former CEO, Allied Domecq: Dunkin’s heartland is in the Northeast, and we wanted the least amount of Britishness in it as possible. We also owned Baskin-Robbins, which was from California, but if you asked anyone in L.A. who owned the company, they’d have thought it was completely American. We were determined that Dunkin’ be the same. But the first objective we had when we bought it was to grow it. Steve Siegel, former franchisee: In the old days you didn’t have Dunkin’s on every corner. They were suburban. You couldn’t have shops in the cities because you couldn’t get those size stores. Leonard Blanchette, Dunkin’ customer, Newton: They actually used to have counter service. It was back in the day when guys could sit at the counter and smoke cigarettes and get away with it. Schwarz: The hostesses would know most of the customers by name and what they wanted. They wouldn’t even have to say their order. Zografos: We did only 20 percent of our business at the counter, yet the counter was 80 percent of the store’s space. So it was simple. We changed the layout and went to all paper products. Schwarz: Coffee probably drinks a little better in a porcelain mug, but there was such theft and breakage. Rosenberg: I was on radio talk shows getting calls from irate — I mean really irate — customers who didn’t want to give up their coffee cup. Boch: There was a store in Norwood where we used to go and look in the window and watch them make the doughnuts. It was unbelievable. The smell! And then, I don’t know, they stopped making them in the store. It was totally sad. Siegel: To open stores in much smaller spaces, we ended up building a plant in South Boston. It produces doughnuts for at least 40 stores. Dunkin’ now has a whole series of co-ops that produce doughnuts for a few hundred stores. Schwarz: Because you didn’t need a doughnut man at the building, you could distribute to kiosks, to smaller stores, bus terminals, train stations, hospitals. Siegel: We had one shop in Winthrop Square that was 64 square feet. We had one in the T tunnel in Filene’s Basement that was 120 square feet. I can still remember opening the store in Pi Alley on Washington Street around 1990 and just being overwhelmed — it became the first satellite store to do a million dollars in revenue. It was a revelation.

Shafer: Over a three- or four-year period we increased from 80 new store openings a year to more than 300. Travis: There’s a rule of thumb for how many stores can be in an area, but in New England we’ve probably exceeded it. Siegel: You know, we built four stores within 600 feet of one another in downtown Boston and it never affected sales. Kussell, former president, Dunkin’: Another part of our road map for growth was to expand our beverage portfolio. When I started at the company all we offered was regular and decaf. Binder: And decaf was a cup of boiling water and an orange packet of Sanka. Rosenberg: Up until a few years ago, iced coffee was sold only in Rhode Island. Most people had never heard of iced coffee. It’s now an international beverage. Binder: In Rhode Island, instead of putting chocolate syrup in your milk in the morning, you put in coffee syrup. I mean, you grow up on coffee. Shafer: Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts were really the core areas of coffee strength for Dunkin’. That’s true of coffee ice cream. I think the region is the country’s largest buyer of Kahlúa as well. Zografos: Unfortunately, along the way we lost the doughnut with the handle, the Dunkin’ Donut. McCarthy: It was a move I did not endorse. It was a signature doughnut when the chain was developed. The shape was on purpose — people could hold it on that little handle and dunk it into their coffee. But they’ve never been able to develop a machine that could produce a good handle. It’s one of those sad things. ALLIED’S GROWTH STRATEGY was working: Dunkin’ opened its 2,000th store in the U.S. in 1990, and its 3,000th just two years later. The chain’s overseas business was booming, too, as it opened its 1,000th international location, in Thailand, in 1995. But the doughnut itself was falling out of favor in an increasingly health-conscious society. Shaking things up, Dunkin’ launched two products within months of each other that ended up transforming the company: bagels, which were perceived as a form of health food (though even without cream cheese they have more calories than a Boston Kreme), and a new drink called the Coolatta. Shafer: In the mid-1990s the demand for bagels was outstripping supply. Chains like Einstein and Bruegger’s were running to fill the void. I made a financial commitment to Heinz bakery for them to supply us with a billion bagels. A billion, yeah. Schwarz: The first week, we became the country’s largest retailer of bagels. Phil Speiser, Dunkin’ customer, South End: Actually, those bagels are awesome. They’re coming fresh out of the oven; how can you go wrong? Kussell: At the same time, Starbucks had just made a small acquisition in Boston, the 24-store Coffee Connection chain. We just felt we needed to move fast. We went out to the West Coast and a lot of the small shops were serving these coffee slush drinks. They seemed to be very popular with women and kids. Glenn Bacheller, former chief marketing officer, Dunkin’: I moved from Dunkin’ to become president of Baskin-Robbins [Dunkin’s sister brand]. We had this incredible cappuccino flavoring; you put it together with ice cream and you had the Cappuccino Blast. Frappuccino was what Starbucks ended up calling it later, but we were out with it a year or two before them. Rosenberg: The Cappuccino Blast at Baskin became the Coolatta at Dunkin’. Almost overnight, that became nearly a $300 million piece of business. Shafer: One of my son’s friends came up to me and said, “Is there any way we can get our own Coolatta machine at school?” I thought, Jesus Christ, we have a winner here. Kussell: There were stories of franchisees running out of Coolatta concentrate and getting into their cars and driving to the distribution center to pick up more. Shafer: Instead of Social Security recipients sitting around a counter sipping coffee, which was my introduction to Dunkin’ Donuts, we now had 12-year-old kids clamoring for a new product.

SPURRED BY THE SUCCESS of the Coolatta — and coffee’s high profit margins — Dunkin’ set about completely reinventing itself: Instead of a doughnut shop, it would become a coffee shop that happened to sell doughnuts. That transformation forced a certain iconic baker into retirement in 1997. Bacheller: Coffee as a percentage of the business kept growing, year after year after year. Stan Frankenthaler, executive chef, Dunkin’: We launched espresso very quickly. Cappuccinos and lattes became really important at coffee shops, so we said, “Let’s get into it sooner rather than later.” Shafer: Sixty to seventy-five percent of sales are coffee-driven. It’s an easier and more profitable business to manage. Binder: For Dunkin’ Donuts, the money is in the coffee. It’s mostly water. The labor to make it is very small. The most expensive item is the cup. Shafer: We got serious about moving from doughnuts to coffee — Fred the Baker had served us well in the past, but he was a baker. Berger: We got the advertising assignment to figure out if Fred should be retired. You couldn’t have Fred say, “Time to make the coffee.” It just didn’t work. Kussell: It’s really hard to overstate how important he was to building the brand as unpretentious, hard-working, and fun. Retiring him was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make. Binder: Michael Vale and I finished a commercial shoot in New York City. We sat at a restaurant for dinner, and I talked to him about the whole thing. Obviously, he was very sad. He was Fred the Baker; Fred the Baker was him. Vale: It wasn’t a happy thing, I’ll tell you. We weren’t happy. But they gave him such a great sendoff. Binder: We had a parade and a huge event in Copley Square. Fred announced that it was no longer time for him to make the doughnuts, but he would bake one last time, and it would be free coffee and doughnuts all day in all the shops. IN 2006 A GROUP OF PRIVATE equity companies — including two from Boston, Bain Capital and Thomas H. Lee Partners — bought Dunkin’ for $2.43 billion (a seven-fold return on Allied’s initial $325 million investment). The owners may have been local again, but they made a few initial missteps that alienated some franchisees, including selling coffee beans in supermarkets, a move store owners felt cut into their profits (a new chief executive was eventually brought in, and he helped smooth things over). In the meantime, the chain launched a new advertising campaign to once again take Dunkin’ national at the same time it was facing a threat on its home turf. McCarthy: Franchisees were definitely concerned about Krispy Kreme coming to Massachusetts. A Krispy Kreme would open up and the place would be mobbed. Coen: One of the things that Dunkin’ Donuts used to have was these boxes that would stack the doughnuts up on their sides. Well, Krispy Kreme laid them flat in a box, which was much more aesthetically appealing. So what did Dunkin’ Donuts do? They went to a flat box.

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.

Kussell: Doughnuts are fun food, right? You eat it with your hands, it’s messy, it tastes good. It’s kind of like going to a candy store — you walk the store, you see all the different colors, you pick out the ones you want. Bryan Rafanelli, Rafanelli Events owner: I often stop on my way to the Cape at the now-defunct Sagamore Bridge rotary and get a red-, white-, and blue- sprinkled doughnut for the ride home. Larry Bird: I definitely ate the doughnuts. Doesn’t everybody? Boch: Dunkin’ Donuts is just one of those things that I don’t think you’d miss until it was gone. It’s so reliable; it’s always there. I hope we don’t take it for granted, because it’s hard to imagine a world without it.

  • 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