New Dunkin' Outlet Won't Carry Donuts, In Name Only

Having learned from the ancients that “a doughnut without a hole is a Danish,” we are now faced with the metaphysical riddle of “what is Dunkin’ without Donuts”?

From professional wags to run-on-the-mill twitterers, everyone is weighing in on the news Nation’s Restaurant Newsbroke last week that Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin’ Donuts was dropping the Donuts moniker from an outlet that will be opening in Pasadena, Calif. 

“What's #Dunkin without ‘Donuts’? What are you ‘dunkin?’ @Peerform wants to know.

“Understand & admire @DunkinDonuts for their focused brand stewardship & possible name evolution — but nostalgic for Store#1,” rues @SteveoWoods with a picture of said establishment back in the days before sugar was bad for you.



“While we remain the number one retailer of donuts in the country, 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 company statement cited by NRN’s Dan Orlando reads. 

“The company does not consider this a departure from current branding,” Orlando points out. “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,” spokeswoman Michelle King says. 

The Washington Post  took to the streets of downtown D.C. to discover what the hoi polloi thought of the idea. Reactions were, as you might imagine, as varied as the selection of calorie-laden pastries behind the counter in any franchise which, by the way, aren’t going anywhere. They’re just not fueling the branding.

As Andrew deGrandpre’s story reminds us, times have certainly changed since the centerpiece of the chain’s advertising was Fred the Baker, “the mustachioed everyman who rose before daybreak, singularly focused on satisfying America’s breakfast craving for sugary baked goods.”

The roughly 11,300 Dunkin’ Donuts stores worldwide now are “locked in a nationwide popularity contest with Starbucks and independent coffeehouses, aggressively competing for the loyalty of an increasingly calorie-conscious customer base concerned with staying fit, not just caffeinated. Doughnuts — while delicious — connote neither,” deGrandpre writes.

Seventy-nine percent of those responding to an ad hoc Twitter poll asking “Should #DunkinDonuts change their name to just #Dunkin??” said “no” as of early this morning, with 7% each asserting it should “Stay as it is,” “I dunno” or “Don't care.” Then again, the sample size (14) was less than the calories count in a single bite out of a Strawberry Frosted donut.

Not that there’s necessarily anything wrong with that, occasionally, as Bruce Y. Lee, associate professor of international health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and executive director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, points outs in Forbes.

“While you probably don't want to have an all-doughnut diet, an occasional doughnut here and there is not the end of the world. In fact, many products marketed as health foods have more fat, salt, or sugar per serving than a doughnut,” he writes. “Examples of products with more sugar are various brands of granola, energy bars, and smoothies, as indicated on the website Eat This, Not That! Indeed, Eat This, Not That! also shows a number of coffee drinks that have more sugar than a can of Coke and thus a doughnut.”  

Plus, Lee tells us, healthier doughnuts — baked, not fried, for example — are not an oxymoron.

The Pasadena Dunkin’ location is the only outlet that will carry the truncated name for now. “We do not anticipate making a decision regarding our branding until the latter half of 2018 when we begin rolling out new store image,” says spokeswoman King in the statement.

In other Dunkin’ news, “last month, it was revealed that the chain was paring down its menu at some of its New England locations, including ones in Bristol County in Massachusetts and Providence, R.I.," Danny McDonald reports for the Boston Globe.

Meanwhile, the chain has a PR wildfire to put out after two New York City policemen claimed that a clerk in a Brooklyn franchise first ignored them and then said, “I don't serve cops,” a week ago Sunday.

“The incident prompted the detectives union to call for an NYPD boycott of the coffee chain — and an apology from the donut shop’s corporate parent,” report Shawn Cohen, Khristina Narizhnaya and Jaclyn Weiner in the New York Post.

Dunkin’ spokeswoman King said Saturday that “the store’s configuration ‘put both the crew members and two officers in a difficult situation because it was not clear where to order,’ adding there are two registers, but only one is routinely staffed,” according to a Post follow-up.

But cops weren’t buying the explanation. “Basically, Dunkin’ Donuts is saying that the two officers in the store were too stupid to know where to order — while every other customer came in and knew where to order,” said Sergeants’ Benevolent Association boss Ed Mullins. “It’s an insult to all members of law enforcement.”

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