My social media pals have been sending me links to news stories (please note: I work in the news business, there’s no need to send me links to local news stories) carrying the bulletin that Dunkin’ Donuts is finally going to open 24 more stores, including some in Eastern Minneapolis, according to the news release, which should tell you all you need to know about Dunkin’ Donuts.
Next to a bus from Woodbury after 7:50 in the morning, there’s nothing I’ve wanted more in Minnesota during my 23 years here than a Dunkin’, which is more about coffee than it is about doughnuts.
For unexplained reasons, Minnesota has been toxic to the brand. Vietnam got a Dunkin’ before East Minneapolis did. Go figure.
Part of it may be an unwillingness to cater to a culture that has a distasteful habit of cutting doughnuts in half. People who do that probably don’t dunk their doughnuts in their coffee. Go figure that, too.
Another reason, perhaps, is that the company, obtained in a leveraged buyout by Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, requires about a quarter million dollars from potential franchisees per store just to talk. That keeps the riff-raff out.
Why someone would throw that kind of money after coffee and doughnuts is revealed in this morning’s news. For the latest quarter, same-store sales grew 1.1 percent at Dunkin’ Donuts U.S. locations. That’s less than the 3 percent increase of the previous quarter, but it comes at a time when the U.S. economy appears to be in the gestational stage of tanking.
There appear to be only two types of people in Minnesota on this subject: those who are excited about a favorite brand coming to the Twin Cities, and those who wonder what the big deal is.
To answer the latter group, we have to turn to the former. It’s about nostalgia. And like most things in our past, reality that is re-written by the fog of memory and time.
Dunkin’ occupied a significant part of our lives of the ’70s and ’80s. If you were a college kid, you stopped on the way to class, grabbed a “regular” coffee (warning: do not order regular coffee at Dunkin’ if you just want cream in it) and a cinnamon doughnut — or so I’ve heard.
They made doughnuts in stores back then, which propelled “time to make the doughnuts” into our consciousness.
What’s the last phrase your coffee shop contributed to the language?
Nobody goes to a Dunkin’ to make the doughnuts anymore. Dunkin’s doughnuts are reheated frozen pieces of goo from a central warehouse, lacking taste, texture, and freshness, I have to admit. Even worse: They don’t sell cinnamon doughnuts anymore. The jerks.
The coffee? I’ve described it herein — accurately — as “working person’s coffee.” It’s not for the latte crowd. It’s not even for the black coffee crowd unless you can appreciate a coffee that turns on you at about the time you should’ve realized you’ve had enough coffee. I consider that a public service and a net positive.
Minnesotans are already pointing to the Krispy Kreme fiasco, predicting doom for the brand locally, but they’re probably wrong. There are simply too many East Coast ex-pats here for Dunkin’ to fail. And we are a generation that is searching too hard for fragments not only of our ancestral homeland but our very lives. In that way, Dunkin’ is the Marty McFly of yeast and grounds.
Unless you understand the happiness derived from low expectations, you’re probably not going to like it, Minnesota.
But the rest of us? We long to return to the brand of our caffeinated youth, sip flavored water, eat a cardboard doughnut and proclaim to you that it’s heaven.
Even though we’ll be lying to you and ourselves, life will be wonderful again.
Related: Five Terms Angelenos Need To Know To Order Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee (OC Weekly)