What Do You Get When You Cross Dunkin’ Donuts With…

What do you get when you cross Dunkin’ Donuts with a Buffalo Bills cornerback ? … A donut shop that changes its name at halftime!

During halftime at a recent game with the Los Angeles Chargers, Buffalo Bills cornerback Vontae Davis announced his retirement. A week or so later, Dunkin’ Donuts announced that it is dropping the word Dunkin’ from its name. Just Kiddin’. It’s dropping Donuts. In either case, it is retiring its “DD” jersey and putting on a new one with just “D” on it.

I could understand such a change if it was Starbucks changing to Ten Bucks, which is what the average customer needs for a solo morning stop. I could understand such a change if it was Duncan Hines, the cake mix company, changing its name to Duncan. More room on the box for recipes. But as it is, Dunkin’ Donuts is contributing to the dumbing down of the English language. As English teacher Ariel Maloney asks, “What are you Dunkin’ if there’s no Donut?”

Company spokesperson J. Lee Rolle says that the name change is part of the company’s focus on beverages, which represent 60% of sales. (Is there a markup on beverages or what?) And so what’s actually changing? More hot drinks? More iced drinks? More frozen drinks? More “Brew at Home”? More bathroom space?

J.Lee Rolle isn’t tipping his hand – probably because he has a coffee pot in it –  but he says, “Just because we’re now going with our first name only, it doesn’t mean we’re abandoning donuts.” I hope not. I always feel the love when someone shows up where I’m volunteering or having a meeting carrying a big box of Dunkin’ Donuts.

Not everyone feels the love, though. As Jason Gay says, “Walking in to work in 2018 with a box of doughnuts is like strolling through the office with a lit cigarette and a bottle of Jagermeister. Coworkers literally run away from you.”

Not all coworkers run from a box of donuts. Jay, who thinks that sugar is already illegal in 32 states, is prone to exaggeration. However, there are health conscious coworkers hoping that the company will give in and add more words than just Dunkin’, say Dunkin’ Salad Bar.

Several customers are confident that Dunkin’ will not do away with donuts. They point to Kentucky Fried Chicken, which changed its name to KFC. People still go there for fried bird. Not that much changed. No confusing KFC with Keenwa For a Change.

Other customers are more suspicious, though. Frank Summers, 49, is still upset that Dunkin’ Donuts stopped serving crullers in 2003. (I, for one, did not realize this. But then I thought that crulling was a Winter Olympic Sport.) If Dunkin’ has such a thing as this in its history, no telling what you soon won’t find on the shelves. Apple fritters? Cake donuts? Glazed donuts? Bavarian Cream?

What is interesting is the kinds of donuts you’ve been able to get at Dunkin’ Donuts in countries other than the U.S. But not in the U.S.

In India you can get a Surprising Melody Donut that includes saffron-infused icing with sprinkled pistachios; in Japan you can get a Mochi Ring Doughnut made of a delicious, glutinous rice in flavors like chocolate and mango;  and in Bulgaria there’s the Mozart, a yeast doughnut filled with chocolate frosting and decorated with nougat icing and chocolate bonbons.

In Peru, not only is there a donut filled with manjar blanco, a custard that resembles dulce de leche, topped with chocolate icing, pecans, and caramel, but there’s also one called the Pistachio Rainbow Donut. It is smothered in pistachio icing and finished with rainbow sprinkles.  My sons and daughter have already banned my grandchildren from ever traveling in Peru.

Can you imagine how long it would have taken people standing in line to select their donut(s) if all these other choices had been available to us through the years? Also, how many more donuts Dunkin’ Donuts would have sold? I think that Dunkin’ Donuts should have changed its name to Dunkin’ 31 Flavors or Dunkin’ International House of Donuts.

Former Buffalo Bill cornerback Vontae Davis does have more in common with Dunkin’ Donuts than one might think. Dunkin’ Donuts may have, in essence, retired the Donut at halftime. Another play would have been to continue the game by giving America more choices.



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