Good thing we are here to tell you all about it. What started as a humble coffee shop in Massachusetts, is now a global powerhouse of yummy goodness. Now go grab something sweet and start reading.
Been There, Done That, Here’s the Book I Wrote
In 2001, William Rosenberg, the man who started it all, published his autobiography. The book is called “Time to Make the Donuts: The Founder of Dunkin Donuts Shares an American Journey”.
It tells Rosenberg’s story, as a man who rose from rags to riches and established an American staple in the process. Here is his story in a nutshell.
The Man Behind the Legend
William Rosenberg, a man you are about to know very well, was born in Massachusetts to Nathan and Phoebe Rosenberg — a couple of German immigrants who owned a grocery store.
During the Great Depression, the Rosenbergs lost their mom and the shop and little William had to quit school in the 8th grade to help his family financially.
A True Business Man
William turned out to have a knack for business. At fourteen years old, he was forced into adulthood and got a full-time job as a telegram delivery boy for Western Union.
Later, at seventeen years old, he started delivering for Simco's ice cream trucks and in four years became a national sales manager. He was in charge of dozens of trucks, production, and storage. This knowledge sure came in handy later in life.
William Rosenberg's Catering Service
Armed with knowledge and experience, William Rosenberg, an American staple in the making, got into the catering business in the late 1940s. He opened the business with money from bonds he purchased in WWII, and thank god that he did.
He remodeled an old taxi and started catering to factory workers around Massachusetts. That truck, by the way, was a prototype of the catering trucks still in use today.
Business Was Good
Rosenberg turned out to be quite the wiz. His past experience with manufacturing, storing, and shipping of refrigerated foods helped him turn his business into a full-on powerhouse.
His single food truck turned into an empire with 200 catering trucks, a vending operation, and 25 in-plant establishments. But he wasn't going to stop there.
The People Want Sugar and Caffeine
Rosenberg's business back then was selling full meals-on-wheels, but he realized that a huge chunk of his revenues (forty percent!) was solely made over selling coffee and donuts.
He then decided to hone in and focus his business on just those items and give the people the sweets they so desperately wanted. And it's a good thing that he did.
Introducing the Open Kettle
It was in 1948 when Rosenberg first opened his coffee & donuts business in Quincy, Massachusetts. But it was not named Dunkin' Donuts just yet.
At first, the place went by the less-catchy name of Open Kettle. The name was a work in progress and soon changed into something a lot more familiar.
What's in a Name?
Rosenberg decided to turn Open Kettle into Dunkin' Donuts in 1950. His thought-out vision was to "make and serve the freshest, most delicious coffee and donuts quickly and courteously in modern, well-merchandised stores." Now that's something we can get behind!
Judging by the global success his business is seeing, it's pretty safe to say that this vision came true.
Rosenberg was onto something important yet simple — if you give people a good product for a good price with good service, they will come back for seconds. And thirds.
He personally made sure his products were the best they could be and perfected his coffee recipe all on his own. He even made it a point to start each day with that signature brew! That's what we call "putting your mouth where your money is."
Dunk Your Donuts
Dunkin' Donuts was named that way not only for the sake of sounding catchy. Rosenberg wanted his diners to literally *dunk* their donuts in their coffee and mix fried carbs and caffeine in the best way possible.
In 1953, Rosenberg started creating Q-shaped donuts in order to create a perfect dipping experience. Those signature donuts were hand-made and sold by the chain until 2003. That year, the chain switched to machine-made donuts with an ordinary ring shape — not very personal, but perhaps more efficient.
What's Your Flavor?
As time went by, Rosenberg sought to push his business even further by setting himself apart from any other business that sold similar products.
Inspired by Howard Jonson's many ice cream flavors, Rosenberg started experimenting with different flavors for his donuts. He ended up with a shortlist of more than 50 new flavors. Well, maybe calling it a *short* list isn't super accurate. How about just a list? Or a de*list*cious?
Rosenberg's Quincy Dunkin' Donuts restaurant was becoming very popular very fast. So popular, in fact, that by 1955 he started allowing franchises.
The concept of franchising, however, was somewhat problematic as some states were aiming to outlaw it completely. Still, Rosenberg didn't let it stop him from expanding his business.
The 100 Store Mark
The year was 1963, and thanks to franchising the business, it took less than a decade for Dunkin' Donuts to open its 100th store.
The franchise business model has served Rosenberg well and the chain was quickly serving coffee and donuts all across the US.
Happy with his empire, Rosenberg retired in 1963, leaving the business to his son, who was in his 20s at the time.
Five years later, Rosenberg got into the horse breeding business with a New Hampshire farm he purchased. He passed away in 2002 at 86 years old.
In the 1970s, Dunkin' Donuts' success did not go unnoticed, and other businesses wanted in on the coffee and baked goods market.
Rosenberg's son turned out to have his father's business sense — the chain held its own in the competition and even ended up buying its biggest competitors — Mister Donut and Dawn Donuts. The chain later bought more businesses and was even considering overseas branches!
The 1994 Buyout
In 1994, Allied Domecq PLC purchased Dunkin’ Donuts and merged with it. It later purchased ice cream giant Baskin Robbins, turning into a Megatron of sweets.
In 1994, the joint forces birthed Dunkin’ Brands, Inc. It means there were now combined stores serving both Dunkin’ Donuts sweets and Baskin Robbins ice cream popping around the U.S.
First Store Overseas
Dunkin' Donuts first became global in the 1970s, upon opening its very first overseas branch in Japan, giving the Japanese a taste of the American craze.
The branch ran for nearly 30 years and closed down in the late 1990s due to declining sales. By that time, however, the chain had been doing well in other locations and even hit the 1,000 stores milestone!
Dunkin' Donuts' exponential growth was unbelievable. It took the company only 16 years to go from 100 stores to a staggering 1,000!
The 1,000th US store opened its doors in 1979. The lion's share of the stores was still located in and around northeast America due to the company’s first location in Massachusetts. But the achievements don't stop here.
The Biggest One Yet
With all of its US branches, you'd expect to find the biggest store in America. But surprisingly, the largest location was opened in Bangkok, Thailand in 1980.
The place can seat more than 100 people interested in inserting some carbs into their stomachs and caffeine into their bloodstream.
Taking Over the World
By 1995, Dunkin' Donuts had so many domestic and global branches, so many workers, and so many clients, it might as well have its own UN representative.
The 1,000th overseas branch of the chain opened in Thailand in 1995. The brand was extremely popular with the Thai clients, who had already been enjoying the biggest Dunkin' Donuts branch in the world.
I Doughnut Know******
Dunkin' Donuts made an impact not only on culture but on language as well. Not many people know this, but the word donut used to be spelled as "doughnut". The obvious etymology of the word is rooted in the word "dough".
The first recorded case of using the word "doughnut" was in 1809 when a writer called Washington Irving used it. It didn't take much for the word to be shortened into "donut", but Rosenberg's business pushed it even further into mainstream use.
Meet the Munchkins
In 1972, the Dunkin' Donuts menu was introduced with sweet new friends: Munchkins — tiny round donuts you could fit in your mouth with a single bite.
The myth around the creation of the munchkins is that they were originated as a clever way to handle leftover dough from donut making. But nobody cares about the myth as long as they taste good. The chain didn't settle for the munchkins and kept looking out for other food trends and made sure to add other items to the menu.
Non-Fried Food? How Revolutionary!
While Dunkin Donuts made a name for itself with donuts and coffee, they were always paying attention and trying to adapt to their customers' needs.
In 1978, for example, the chain introduced freshly-baked muffins into its menu as a non-fried alternative to their donuts. Not salad pre-se, but still a healthier option.
Dunkin' Donuts celebrated 1979's Easter with a special edition of egg-shaped pastries that were almost too adorable to eat. They even came in a special carton 12-pack!
The eggs could be purchased until the 1980s and the chain keeps making holiday special treats to this day.
The Dunkin’ Bagels
Trendy American breakfasts in the 90s had to include a bagel or two and Dunkin’ Donuts were quick to join the party.
The chain added savory bagels to its worldwide menu and became America's biggest bagel vendor in a single year! And bagels weren't even the only thing flying off the Dunkin' shelves...
Another Epic Milestone
In 1999, 50 years after it was first introduced to the world, Dunkin' Donuts could add another badge to their boy scout sash — selling their 8 billionth cup of coffee.
According to The Motley Fool finance company, Dunkin' Donuts now sells an average of over 1.5 billion cups a year.
Cooling Off With Coolatta
When Starbucks released the Frappuccino, it gave Dunkin' Donuts a real run for their money. They had to come up with an alternative and they had to be quick.
In 1997, the chain launched the Coolatta — a new kind of slushy coffee to keep people cool and caffeinated even when the sun has other plans.
The array of breakfast foods served by Dunkin' Donuts became bigger in 1997 when the chain started offering a variety of warm breakfast sandwiches.
Those had different fillings such as eggs, meat, and cheese. They later even added English muffins and croissants!
As if the chain wasn't selling enough sugary items already, in 2000 it introduced two new hot beverages — hot chocolate, and a coffee/chocolate mix that answers to the name of Dunkaccino.
Incredible as those drinks may sound, they become even more decadent when you learn they are served with whipped cream on top.
In 2008, following the global health trend and the growing awareness of people about their nutrition, Dunkin' Donuts launched its DDSMART menu.
The new menu had more information about the nutritional values of the different items and the amounts of fat and sugar they contained. It also had a new addition in the form of flatbread meals made with egg white and filled with healthier products like vegetables or turkey sausage.
There is a fine line between reinventing a classic and outright insulting it. Dunkin' Donuts made sure not to cross that line in 2010 with their new bagel twists.
Alongside regular ring bagels, Dunkin' Donuts started selling bagel twists more reminiscent of the infinity sign. They became available in various flavors, such as pretzel salt, cheddar cheese, and blueberry. Yum!
Welcome, Cold Brew!
In 2016, the Dunkin' menu was introduced with yet another new beverage — the Dunkin' cold brew.
Those who think that it's the same regular coffee with too much ice are in for a surprise. The process there is completely different and involves steeping the coffee overnight. That's what gives it its smooth flavor.
Here's the Tea
When your coffee is so famous it can be easy to have your tea sidelined. That's exactly what happened to Dunkin’ Donuts' tea. While it has been serving tea for a long time, it was never the star of the show.
In 2016, however, the chain started including more tea options and added full-leaf and herbal teas to the menu. The new drinks came with fun new names like Bold Breakfast Black, Chamomile Fields, and Hibiscus Kiss.
The Royal Donut
In 2018, Dunkin' Donuts launched a new kind of donut in honor of the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
The donut they produced was a limited edition and available only for a single week in May. It is a heart-shaped donut filled with jelly. The icing was chocolate with strawberry drizzle. Is anyone else getting hungry?
Above and Beyond
In the summer of 2019, Dunkin' took another step in adjusting to the healthy food trend. The chain partnered with Beyond Meat and created a meat-free breakfast sandwich.
The new sandwich was initially introduced in Manhattan, which made the business the first restaurant brand in the U.S. that serves Beyond Sausage.
In 1961, the world got to meet Dunkie for the first time. It was the new Dunkin' Donuts mascot, and in spite of small oddities, it was super cute.
Dunkie looked a little like the Pilsbury man after a quick visit in the oven. He wore the company hat, a fancy bowtie, and a weird pair of pants made out of a coffee cup. But we're not here to discuss fashion so don't let it distract you.
But Dunkie Wasn't Forever
The hot pink and orange logo we know today was gradually stylized until Dunkie had to be let off. He must be enjoying his retirement somewhere in Florida.
At first, the logo was stylized as the name brand written in a circle (because that's the shape of a donut, duh) and the only color was hot pink. The bright orange was introduced to the logo in 1980. Since then, the logo changes have been very subtle.
Hold the Donuts
The donuts that made the chain so famous were pushed aside by the brand's drinks. In 2019, the word "donuts" was dropped from the company name as it decided to center its branding around its beverages.
Don't worry, they didn't stop selling donuts, but simply started focusing on the other products on its menu.
Anyone who watched TV in the 80s is probably familiar with Fred the baker. Actor Michael Vale portrayed him since the Dunkin' Donuts 1982 commercial campaign and made the character iconic.
His most memorable line was "time to make the donuts", which soon turned into a catchphrase. Fred was Dunkin' Donuts' mustached face until his 1997 retirement.
Coffee from Fred
In 1995, Bob Rosenberg (the aforementioned son) and Michael Vale (forever the beloved Fred) went back behind the counter.
It was a promotional move performed at the original Quincy branch when Bob was already CEO and Fred's face was synonymous with donuts.
Dunkin' Donuts breakfast cereal officially became a thing in 1988. They were launched in two flavors — glazed and chocolate.
The sweet commercial showed Fred making teensy little donuts with teensy little tools only for them to get taken from him by a little boy. The slogan, "crunchy little donuts with a great big taste!", was found both in the commercial and on the box, which was now available in supermarkets.
But the brand did the impossible and launched new Dunkin' coffee flavors (hazelnut and vanilla) to the mix. Now people could have Dunkin' coffee in the privacy of their own homes!
In 2007, Dunkin' Donuts teamed up with Procter & Gamble and made their coffee even more accessible (as if thousands of branches worldwide weren't enough).
They started selling their own line of coffees that you could get at almost every supermarket in America, allowing people to Dunk at home.
A New Slogan
In 2006, long after Fred the Baker was out of the picture, Dunkin' Donuts needed a new slogan. "Time to make the donuts" was a hard one to beat.
Still, their new campaign was launched with the slogan "America runs on Dunkin’" — short, sweet, and pretty accurate. And speaking of running, the chain even teamed up with a running shoe company for an epic themed campaign.
Combining Donuts With Workout Sessions
Donuts are rarely linked to physical activity, but Dunkin' Donuts tried to exclude themselves from such a narrative in 2018. They teamed up with Saucony, the Massachusetts shoe manufacturer, and produce the Saucony X Dunkin' Kinvara 9.
It was a donut themed running shoe designed in honor of the 122nd running of the Boston Marathon. The shoe looked strawberry-frosted, came packed in a donut box, and had rainbow sprinkles on its heel.
Sports Teams Affiliations
Other than its 2018 partnership with Saucony, Dunkin' Donuts make sure to support physical activity. The chain has even sponsored various sports teams such as the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Eagles.
The chain's partnerships are not limited only to baseball and football. Over the years it has supported and collaborated with hokey, soccer, and basketball teams.
The Dunkin’ App
In 2013, Dunkin' Donut stepped into the tech world by introducing a new app. The app allowed the users to access the chain's menu and pay at the store.
A year later, the app had a new DD Perks Rewards feature. the new feature awarded clients with five points for each dollar they spend in-store, as long as it's paid through the app or using a Dunkin’ Donuts card. The points, in turn, earned them perks such as free drinks.
Throwing It Back
With years of activity, the chain has its own legacy and history. In 2013, it shared an old picture on its Facebook page that made everyone shed a little nostalgic tear.
The image was taken about a decade prior and showed one of the branches and the workers in it. While today's employees of the chain wear brown aprons, the lovely picture showed that the retro uniform was a lot more colorful.
Happy 70th Birthday!
In 2010, it had been 70 years since Rosenberg first opened his catering business. That business has certainly made its mark in the world.
With decades of experience and nearly 13,000 branches worldwide, it is truly one of a kind.