Over the holidays, most of us stuffed ourselves silly with cake, cookies, candy and pie, so the last thing on our minds right now is a doughnut.
Dunkin’ Donuts knows that. It’s kicking doughnuts to the curb for a rebranding. But unlike our New Year’s resolution to spend more time at the gym, the name change will linger longer than the month of January.
Doughnuts dropped below 10 percent of the company’s sales years ago. Dunkin’ has evolved into a coffee and tea company that also sells breakfast sandwiches with doughnuts as a lingering sideline.
Over the last couple of years, the Canton, Mass., chain has been distancing itself from the deep-fried confections that have been the company’s namesake since its founding nearly 70 years ago. In 2019, a Box O’ Joe is far more popular than a box of doughnuts. The coveted black raspberry jelly doughnut has been missing in action for years, displaced by the French Vanilla Macchiato.
A press release touting the company’s new packaging — it’s just “Dunkin’” now — and menu offerings sounds like it was ripped off from Planet Fitness: “The New Year is all about new possibilities and opportunities, and enthusiasm enough to maybe finally keep those resolutions.”
If your resolution is to not eat a doughnut, you’ve come to the right place. Take your eyes off that Boston Kreme and say hello to the New Power Breakfast Sandwich, a veggie egg white omelet with spinach, peppers and onions, turkey sausage and American cheese on multigrain bread topped with seeds and rolled oats.
“At 370 calories, the Power Breakfast Sandwich has 20 grams of whole grains, 24 grams of protein, and has no artificial flavors or dyes and no high fructose corn syrup.”
And none of that yummy yellow custard that lurks inside a chocolate-iced Boston Kreme. You can wash your healthy choice sandwich down with a New Energy Cold Brew, which includes a shot of espresso.
Dunkin’ hasn’t entirely left doughnuts behind. For the new year, it’s bringing back the Caramel Chocoholic Donut: “A classic chocolate donut frosted with caramel icing, sprinkled with semi-sweet chocolate curls and finished with a drizzle of caramel icing.” The company spared us the nutritional breakdown because you don’t want to know.
When my middle son and his wife came to visit us from Denver over the holidays, they made a point of making a pilgrimage one morning to Dunkin’, taking a brief walk to the one at Elliot Hospital. (It was a little closer than the Dunks at the Mobil station.) They wanted to take in a New England experience, declining my offer of Keurig machine coffee for something more exotic.
Dunkin’ aims to increase its global reach as a purveyor of beverages, but it already has a pretty good start: 11,300 locations worldwide, including 8,500 restaurants in 41 states and more than 3,200 international restaurants in 36 countries. During a visit to New England years ago, we kept the kids busy in the back seat by playing the “Spot the Dunkin’ Donuts” game, better known as the “Spot the Starbucks” game out West.
Dunkin’ has more in common now with Starbucks than it does with Krispy Kreme, targeting millennials who don’t mind waiting in a line 10 cars deep for their Iced Latte fix. That image feels like a thousand years away from my first memories of Dunkin,’ courtesy of the former Granite Square shop in Manchester. Patrons sat on bar stools and dipped their Honey Dips in black coffee, maybe ordered some soup. About four years ago, the longtime local franchise company founded by Carl Andrade built a new shop closer to Interstate 93 and added a drive-thru. (And that old Dunkin’ became a smoke and vape store.)
These days, Dunkin’ franchise owners make the doughnuts at central bake shops and deliver them to local stores. Decades before we declared carbs an enemy of the people, each Dunkin’ made their doughnuts on site, and a radio jingle reminded us. “Dunkin’ Donuts, Dunkin’ Donuts. Fresh every four hours!” (If you have that song playing in your head right now, I hope you are enjoying your senior years.)
Dunkin’ played a recurring role in my first job, delivering newspapers for the Manchester Union Leader on the West Side in a neighborhood known as The Flats. On Sunday mornings, our distributor — the guy who depended on us to deliver the papers on time — would drive around his routes, checking for stragglers like me. The good news: He always had a box of Dunkin’ Donuts with him.
While I was thankful, he never once wavered from his favorite or maybe he just didn’t have time to waste picking doughnuts. Every time he opened that box, all I saw was a bunch of would-be jelly doughnuts stuffed with fluffy light chocolate cream.
Leaving me longing for black raspberry.