Dunkin’ Donuts Needs to Chill

The latest shake-up? Dropping “Donuts” from its name.

Photo by Mike Mozart on Flickr/Creative Commons

Dunkin’ Donuts, we need to talk.

For whatever reason, the beloved coffee chain has been taking some steps that are red flags of a serious identity crisis, and this week things got especially extreme. It’s been announced that Dunks is, as part of an experiment in California, dropping the word “Donuts” from its brand name. It will, reportedly, be known simply as “Dunkin’.”

Why?

“While we remain the number one retailer of donuts in the country,” the brand says in a statement to Nation’s Restaurant News, “as part of our efforts to reinforce that Dunkin’ Donuts is a beverage-led brand and coffee leader, we will be testing signage in a few locations that refer to the brand simply as “Dunkin.'”  A spokesman adds: “We have been referring to ourselves simply as Dunkin’ in our advertising for more than a decade, ever since we introduced our ‘America Runs on Dunkin’ campaign.”

I mean, why stop there? Why keep the “dunk” if just about no one is actually “dunking” anything in anything anymore?

Alright, look, it’s fine that one of the world’s largest chains is trying something new to stay viable in an era of lots of choices for gourmet and gourmet-adjacent cups of joe (there are, after all, so many fancy coffee shops in Boston that they can barely hire enough baristas to staff them all). And it’s true that people call it all kinds of things: Dunks, Dunkies, et cetera.

But we’re getting whiplash over here.

First it was announced that Dunks is dumping the Coffee Coolatta, and that the popular iced drink will be replaced by the similar sounding Frozen Dunkin’ Coffee. And, by the way, who are all these people drinking Dunkin’ Energy Punch? What are your taste buds made out of?

Then we were introduced to the horrifyingly named “fruited iced teas,” whose use of “fruit” as a verb is as disturbing as it is ominous.

Then we learned its menu is being pared down, and items like sandwiches and whole wheat bagels trashed, at 1,000 Massachusetts and Rhode Island locations.

In a divided nation, Dunks coffee is on a real short list of true unifiers, a Massachusetts export enjoyed by an increasing number of people from all walks of life all around the country. As we speak, there are plastic DD logos crammed into the cupholders of untold thousands of Lexus and Camry drivers alike. This is who we are. If we stay on this path of de-Donut-ification, a path the brand has shown it’s more than willing to take, who knows where it leads.

So Dunkin’ Donuts, please: chill.