Today Dunkin' Donuts is launching its version of the fading fad-tastic cronut, simply named the Croissant Donut (creativity, naming and trend-necromancy fail). At $2.49 each -- the usual single donut price is around a buck -- the extra dough lands your croissant donut in a fancy box. Fancy packaging is great and all, but is there any chance this cro-Dunk-nut will last past the initial novelty? The Double-D has a track record of offering either epically amazing or super-meh products, so it's a timely toss-up.
Here are five of the best and worst things Dunkin' Donuts has ever made. Maybe if they bring back the "Time to make the donuts!" ads, customers might slink back into Dunkin' from the artisan doughnut shops.
5. Worst: Dunkin's Pumpkin Crème Brûlée Latte
Pumpkin-spice foods are hot; pumpkin-spice coffee drinks are hotter. In a gargantuan effort to smack Starbucks square in the chops, Dunkin' Donuts took Buckies' (in)famous PSL and then did what Dunkins does best: added an extra pound of sweet to it -- and out came the pumpkin crème brûlée latte. Dunkin's coffees and coffee beverages are notably some of the sugary-est out there, but this creation was so mouth-dryingly, tooth-decayingly, pancreas-explodingly glycemic that it made the PSL seems like 3 a.m. truck stop joe minus the fixings.
Look, Dunkin' Donuts, we all get that you guys wanna take down Buckies, and a little market-share competition is good for you and the customers alike, but there are better ways to go there without lowering the innovation and upping the sugar.
4. Best: The regular 'ol Strawberry Frosted with Sprinkles
That whole thing about less being more was never so true with chain-store donuts than with Dunkin' Donuts' steady, no-frills favorites like the shelf-staple raised donut, glazed with pinky-PINK strawberry icing and hit with just a pinch of multi-colored sprinkles. This donut is not fancy or particularly exciting but does seem to make its way into everyone's dozen all the same, because it's safe, sane and pretty. It tastes like mornings and smells like the perfume of dolls and angels. Yes -- this donut actually has that "new doll" smell.
3. Worst: Angus Steak & Egg Breakfast Sandwich
Alongside the Dunk-croiss-nuts launch comes the news that Dunkins is bringing back the Angus Steak & Egg Breakfast Sandwich to slap onto its permanent menu. I recall the tagline when it came out the first time, "Eat like a boss!", which is still truth about his a.m. sammie, if either you or your boss is an asshole. This breakfast sandwich is asshole food, because an under-toasted onion bagel, tasteless egg patty, rubbery processed cheese and a bone-dry, peppery, chopped-meat-product slab is the kind of thing you buy when your day starts off rotten and has zero chance of getting any better by lunchtime.
And of course the Angus-beef-look-at-me! trend was dead and buried like a decade ago, so what's next?
For more best and worst from Dunkin Donuts, read on.
2. Best: Cookie Dough and Brownie Batter Donuts
I was automatically inclined to dislike both of these donuts on general principle, but every once in a while Dunkins will surprise me with badass donuts that really should be terrible, as is the case with these two donuts introduced last year. Both were heart-shaped: the cookie-dough donut was stuffed with buttercream and topped with way too many chocolate chips (awesome!), while the brownie batter was filled with what appeared to be pretty effin' close to actual brownie batter. The heart-shaped sprinkles warmed my crusty heart.
Dunkins attempt to square off with boutique donuts was weak, but at least these showed an awareness of the artisan doughnut trend, so we should be expecting fruity cereal-topped donuts at Dunkins too -- like two years from now.
1. Worst: Dunkin' Donuts Sausage Pancake Bites
The old adage about not eating something from a restaurant that isn't the restaurant's specialty has a prime-time example in Dunkin' Donuts' sausage pancake bites, for three big reasons. One: Nobody goes to Dunkin' Donuts for anything like pancakes when there are perfectly good IHOPs around. Even McDonald's produces passably good hotcakes. Two: In the sphere of sad-car-cupholder-food, these greasy nuggets can be easily and cheaply purchased at a grocery store and nuked and stuffed in a paper towel for morning commute sustenance. And three: they were just bad.
These came in a three-pack, as an inexpensive add-on for people already ordering coffee, but the pancake batter part was mealy and dry and the sausage insides tasted and smelled like microwaved cat food.
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Dunkins needs to stick to what it does best: basic coffee and basic donuts. And for the love of little donut holes, stop trying to play-act at being either Starbucks or artisan.