Dunkin’ Donuts: A thorough look at the corporate giant

23 Apr

Dunkin’ Donuts is everywhere.  Like it or not, that much is undeniably true.  We here at Breakfast Adventures are often thwarted by it — it invades our Google searches for “donuts in Chicago” and taunts us every few blocks when we venture into the city.  Nevertheless, we felt it was our Breakfast Duty to thoroughly examine this corporate giant for the benefit of Pastry Eaters everywhere.

Over the past few months, we have been slowly compiling an entry on this Donut Juggernaut.  Dutifully, we have sampled a donut or two each Saturday, recording our observations and waiting until we had enough data to present a comprehensive report.  The entry below consists of these Taste Trials.

Here’s what we found:


Donut #1: Chocolate Frosted

Coffee Girl: This donut did not impress.  The cake was stale, even on a Saturday morning at 7:45 a.m., when you’d think the donuts would be moving fast.  The chocolate frosting tasted like there were extra ingredients added, either to make the donut last longer or cost less to make or both — in any event, luscious chocolate taste is apparently not of paramount importance here.

Donut Boy: Just kinda dry and blah.  If you’ve had real, hand-made donuts, this is sort of like a cartoon version of the real thing.  Except there’s nothing really that amusing about its tinny, hollow chocolate flavor.  Bready and dull.

Donut #2: Glazed

Coffee Girl: The plain glazed yeast donut scored more points with us than did the chocolate frosted.  The dough tasted fresh and pleasantly squishy, and the glaze added a sweet crackle that made this donut a highly satisfactory partner to Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, which we’ve always liked.

Donut Boy: For my taste, the glaze is pretty thin.  Gentle sweet taste, but nothing to phone home about.  Interior is mediocre.  I would say if you’re in a hurry and you need a glazed donut, look to 7-11 or Krispy Kreme for just-as-quick, much tastier options.

Donut #3: Strawberry Frosted

Coffee Girl: The strawberry frosting is a pretty color, and it’s pleasantly sweet if you’re really hungry.  If you’re less ravenous and more picky, the frosting is a bit cloying.  The yeast donut tastes like stale bread.  But if you were hurriedly driving around town, starving, and you looked down and discovered a Dunkin’ Donuts strawberry frosted donut in your hand, you wouldn’t necessarily throw it out the window.

Donut Boy: I could tell when I picked up this donut that it was past its prime.  It felt dry and hollow.  And it was.  I was disappointed in the waxy strawberry frosting and bewildered by what I detected to be strong hints of banana flavor.  The dough was D-list; far too much chewing involved.  After two bites I decided to stop with my dignity intact.

Donut #4: Chocolate Glazed

Coffee Girl: Nice glaze.  For maximum enjoyment of this donut, we recommend eating just the glazed exterior, leaving behind as much of the cake interior as possible.  We’d like to say that this donut starts off with a bang and ends with a whimper, but, alas, it just whimpers.

Donut Boy: A little better than eating a piece of bread, due to a somewhat bashful chocolate flavor that never really develops into anything.  Actually, a piece of bread with Nutella spread on it would probably be fresher.  This donut does not put up a good case for its own existence.

Donut #5: Strawberry Jelly

Coffee Girl: The donut had a nice squish, but the jelly was gross.  Sorry, we’ll be more specific: the filling was so gelatinous as to suggest hair gel instead of something edible

Donut Boy: Dry, bready dough (are you noticing a pattern here?) contains truly gross frosting.  Ew.

Donut #6: Bavarian Kreme

Donut Boy: If you’re going to have to eat the underwhelming dough in Dunkin Donuts’ donuts, the powdered sugar and cream inside this donut will definitely help you get it down.  I enjoyed those elements very much (who doesn’t like a good coating of powdered sugar?), but come on — at the end of the day, it’s just a lazy attempt to dress up an otherwise totally lame pastry.  My esteemed colleague didn’t even feel a need to comment, and I don’t blame her.

Donut #6: Maple Frosted

Coffee Girl: This donut is one of my favorite Dunkin Donuts.  I’m a huge fan of maple frosting, and DD’s version is excellent.  One still sacrifices quality for convenience as far as the underlying donut is concerned, but the delicious icing almost overwhelms the cardboard underneath.

Donut Boy: This frosting certainly is tasty, and it’s got a great aroma, too.  Certainly more chew in the dough than any human would ever want, but at this point in our Dunkin Donuts trials, that’s par for the course.

Donut #7: Blueberry Cake

Coffee Girl: This donut was not bad, for Dunkin’ Donuts — high praise indeed from a Professional Donuteer.  Nice glaze over tasty, moist dough.  Good with coffee, which will cut the dough’s heavy, artificial sweetness.

Donut Boy: Yes, I have to say this was my favorite Dunkin’ Donuts entry.  While the blueberry flavor was pleasing, my cohort is accurate in her description of its strong, chemically taste.  No, what I liked even more than the blueberry flavor was the decently fresh cake dough.  The glaze wasn’t bad either.

Donut #8: Butternut

Donut Boy: Do not be fooled by the picture.  This isn’t a sesame seed bagel.  It’s a surprisingly good cake donut entry from Dunkin Donuts.  Nice crunchy texture surrounds a somehow-not-totally-dry cake dough.  Almost too sweet but not quite.  I wanted to find something to dislike about this donut but I couldn’t.

Coffee Girl: An excellent effort by Dunkin’ Donuts, the Butternut Donut makes the most of DD’s pleasant-enough cake by setting it off against a lot of crunch.  It made us happy, and that is certainly not always the case at Dunkin’ Donuts.

Donut #9: Apple Fritter

Donut Boy: This is not an apple fritter.  It’s a haggard attempt by a lazy corporate giant to emulate a traditional pastry using the stock ingredients they make all their other donuts out of.  Apple fritters are, as a rule, somewhat different from a regular cake or yeast donut.  This is basically a puffy glazed donut with a crappy core of apple filling.  I could go on and on about what’s wrong — too much dough, not crunchy enough, too thick; not to mention the fact that an apple fritter itself is not actually a filled pastry — but all I really need to leave you with is the question: Why?

Coffee Girl: Well, we owed it to you Faithful Readers to try this specimen.  And now we have, and we won’t ever have to do it again.

Donut #10: Boston Kreme

Donut Boy: This donut proved difficult to fully wrap my tongue around.  While the flavor of the custard inside wasn’t bad, its consistency could easily be described as “runny.”  Also, it was so sweet that it overwhelmed all other aspects of the pastry.  I think the dough might have been decently not-dry, but I couldn’t really tell.  The chocolate frosting could have been okay, but again: not sure.  In the end, I felt like the custard was a smokescreen.

Donut #11: Chocolate Frosted Chocolate Cake

Coffee Girl: Although this donut seemed fresher than I’ve come to expect at this franchise, the cake was nevertheless on the tasteless, cardboard-y side. The frosting would register a “pleasant” on the chocolate scale.  Overall, this donut would earn about a 52 on a scale of 100, if we used a 100-point scale, which we don’t.

Donut Boy: This wasn’t terrible.  The chocolate frosting was fine, and the cake itself had a little crunch to it.  Ultimately, it proved (in Dunkin’ Donuts tradition) to be a tad too dry and bread-y, but there are far worse donuts you could get.


In closing, we feel the above picture serves as a prime example of exactly what is wrong with Dunkin’ Donuts.  Here you have two donuts tossed haphazardly into a sack with no concern over frostings getting smeared or powder rubbing off or pastries getting smooshed.  Maybe DD employees know their donuts are brick-y enough to withstand such brutish treatment.  Maybe they’re just in a hurry.  Either way, it gets to the heart of the problem with Dunkin’ Donuts: No love or respect for the pastries.

“But they’re so cheap!” you might argue.  Sure, but there are plenty of pastry shops with similarly priced goods.  As a rule, donuts are not going to break the bank.

“But they’re so convenient,” you insist.  Okay, but there are other just-as-popular places that offer much better pastries (see 7-11) in a quick, cheap manner.  Chances are your local grocery store has a great donut selection.

People are going to keep going to Dunkin’ Donuts.  It’s a fact.  The best thing to do is feel bad for these people, and to take a few seconds for yourself and look around.  Great donuts are everywhere; sometimes they just need to be found.

Happy Donuts, everyone!



3 Responses to “Dunkin’ Donuts: A thorough look at the corporate giant”

  1. andrew November 17, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

    this is stupid


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