#1 on the Franchise 500:
Even without the ‘Donuts’, Dunkin’ Takes the Cake
Entrepreneur magazine, January-February 2020
The brand once known as Dunkin’ Donuts turns 70 this year. The first 68 are inextricable from the word Donuts. They were a beloved treat for founder Bill Rosenberg, a working-class eighth-grade dropout in Depression-era Boston. By the time he died in 2002, he’d built his brand into 5,000 stores in 38 countries.
But the most recent 20 years of history have been an evolution toward something bigger. The brand evolved into the largest coffee-and-baked-goods chain in the world, as well as one of the fastest-growing in the U.S. Of its 13,000 stores, about 9,500 are in the U.S., and it plans to double that number over the next 20 years. It might even pull it off, with rising same-store sales now driving $1.3 billion in hot and cold drinks.
Today the company also sells bagels and sandwiches and low-calorie wraps, and customers can purchase creamy, nitrogen-infused cold brew from tap handles. The foam cups it used for decades are actively being phased out in favor of a double-walled paper cup that won’t be too hot to the touch. Using the company’s DD Perks app, customers can even order on their phones before leaving the house. So given all this, the brand didn’t want to be limited by its doughnut-focused name. In September 2018, it announced that it was changing its name to simply Dunkin’ — a change as big as when Kentucky Fried Chicken eliminated Kentucky, Fried, and Chicken from its name.
Dunkin’ Donuts, minus the Donuts. It was once unthinkable. But the weirdest thing has happened: Doughnut sales grew.
—Maggie Ginsberg is an award-winning freelance writer in Madison, Wisconsin