Living in San Fran I was constantly surrounded by excellent cafes and coffee roasters. I lived upstairs from a great café, across the street from another great café and a block away from the local coffee roasters. However, at the time there wasn’t a single Dunkin Donuts store in the state! Pretty sure there still isn’t one in SF because the cookie cutter corporate culture that surrounds DD (just like it does every franchise operation, I should add) is very, very un-San Fran. However (and I admit that this was a little mean on my part) I used to pull a prank on every recent New England transplant I came across:
“It’s great that they finally opened up a Dunkies around here, right?”
Oh how their eyes would light up! The smart phones would come out and the furious searching of Google maps and Yelp would begin. No other local brand has ever brought out the kind of devotion (some might say addiction) as I’ve seen with DD. The only brand/memory that comes close is In-N-Out with Los Angelinos (mention an animal style double-double and you’ll see the kind of blissed out, slightly glazed expression I’m talking about).
It was pretty exciting that a Dunkin Donuts opened up in Pittsburgh when I was living there, even if it was a very unusual Dunkies to say the least: it had a conference room that you could book by the hour! A fireplace! Bookshelves! Flat screen TV’s! It just felt…wrong somehow.
What is it about DD that makes it so special and unique? Some people say it’s because they subtle flavorings to the coffee. One of my friends who is mildly allergic to peanuts says it must be peanuts because he gets a mild reaction every time he drinks the coffee, something which never happens with any other brand. Whatever it may be, and no matter how mediocre the quality of the coffee, drinking Dunkies always warms me up on cold gray New England days. And that makes it special.