In 1950, Bill Rosenberg opened the very first Dunkin' Donuts in Quincy, Massachusetts. After he'd opened his fifth store, he was touted as a rising entrepreneur in such legendary publications as the Saturday Evening Post. The little doughnut-shop-that-could now has over 10,000 franchises in thirty countries, but it seems that its heart remains in Boston -- even if many of its Bostonian fans have long left the city upon a hill.
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On Tuesday, two Dunkin' locations opened in metro Denver, a spot that hasn't had a DD in decades, much to the bitter indignation of Denver loyalists. As one reader put it, "The donuts are fair-to-mediocre and the coffee overrated." But the news of the impending openings, even when they were just sparkles in the eyes of local franchisers, had been music to my ears. Boston is my home, and Dunkin' Donuts are omnipresent there, installed on street corners, at subway stations and in airports. I grew up drinking too much of DD coffee and eating too many jelly doughnuts. I overdosed on its hot chocolate, which I think is made with actual butter. And I was far from alone: All New England goes nuts for Dunkin' Donuts.
All this leaves Denver in an interesting place. Locals, and even some who have confused loyalty towards Dunkin' because they grew up with it but no longer think its product is that good, don't like that Dunkin' has invaded central Denver, grabbing attention (and dollars) from independents. I understand the feelings of this faction -- but I don't belong to it.
The other faction is comprised of diehards: People who have waited for this day, or people who didn't even realize how much they missed Dunkin Donuts until they knew they could have it again, along with nostalgists like me. Speaking for the nostalgists (stop reading here if you don't want to hear the words D***** D***** ever again), I can say that like anything you grow comfortable with, it never ceases to be comforting. Dunkin' Donuts will always be delicious to me, and it will always be the first place I go when I get to an airport that has one: Because it tastes like childhood, I will always be a patron.
And I am far from alone, as I discovered when I visited the location at 366 Broadway yesterday.
It was the strangest thing -- I got there, and I was that dweeb outside taking a picture of the sign to send to my friends from home -- when out come three guys, about my age, swimming in every kind of Boston sports merchandise there is. They were originally from Vermont and New Hampshire, and they had driven thirty miles to visit this Dunkin' Donuts. They asked if I wanted a picture with me in it, and I politely declined, because that would be too silly and obsessed -- if I had said yes, and I had seen me do that, I wouldn't like me, either.
Inside, the story was much of the same: I started talking with the girls in front of me who were carefully plotting their doughnut order. They were both from Lowell, an old mill town a stone's throw outside of Boston proper and, ike me, had been waiting for this. A woman farther down the long line overheard me talking about my hometown; her husband was also from there, and had sent her on a massive Dunkin' run. A couple originally from Boston handed their small child her very first chocolate glazed.
After several cheerful, sugar-induced conversations, I realized that this Dunkin' Donuts was chockful of transplants. The kind who, without fail, say things like, "Yeah, I came out here for college only expecting to be here for a few years and I never left." I've used that line before, too.
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So while this city may be divided over Dunkin' Donuts, with the bitter or simply bored on one side, the nostalgic transplants on the other, I think both need to wave the white flag here. The Broadway Dunkin' Donuts has become an East Coaster's place to take a walk down memory lane, even while creating new memories in their new home town. And that can never be "overrated."