Speaking Truth to Powah: Why L.A. Shouldn’t Get Too Excited About Dunkin’ Donuts

People of Los Angeles! At the risk of having my honorary Boston citizenship revoked (I lived there from 1994-2003), I have a warning for you all. Each and every one of you. Some of you. A handful of you. The few of you who might be super excited about the long awaited arrival of our very first Dunkin Donuts. You might want to curb your enthusiasm, just a tad. Don’t get me wrong, I’m kind of excited to have Dunkin Donuts in Los Angeles, and in 2003 when I first moved here from Boston I would have actually killed for it. But it’s not 2003 anymore. And unless you are from the east coast, and know exactly what it is you’re getting excited for, you’re going to want to lower your expectations before heading over to the DD opening in Santa Monica on Tuesday.

So why exactly are people getting excited and why should you not be one of those people? I ask and answer all those questions, after the jump.

So… let’s start with the most obvious. Why does everyone from the east coast get so excited about Dunkin Donuts? Is it actually great? Oh, it’s a great reminder of home… provided the Northeast is your home. But I wouldn’t say it’s actually great.

Is it kind of like how people from California feel about In N Out? Yeeeeah… no. In N Out is actually great, and actually better than pretty much every other fast food hamburger anywhere.

So… is it like when everybody from the south got excited for Chick Fil A? Closer, but still not quite. All I’m saying is, if you didn’t grow up on Dunkin, you probably shouldn’t get too excited about Dunkin.

So you’re saying that they aren’t going to be putting all of the donut shops in L.A. out of business? I seriously doubt it. In fact, it’s not even the donuts that people get really excited about.

Wait, it’s not the donuts? Nope.

But it’s called Dunkin DONUTS. Isn’t it a donut shop? I suppose. Look, don’t get me wrong, the donuts are just fine. And some are actually better than fine. For example, I have had many an intimate moment with french crullers from Dunkin Donuts. But most of the donuts aren’t any better than what you’d get at the mom and pop donut shops that are in every neighborhood in Los Angeles.

So is it the munchkins? I’ve been hearing a lot about those. That’s right! Forgot about the munchkins. Honestly, they are pretty much just your standard, run of the mill donut holes. Though, they will probably go over really well in L.A.

Why is that? Well, the beauty of the munchkin is that they’re small, and come in gingerbread house size boxes perfect for your office’s kitchen. So you trick yourself into thinking that you’ll just eat one- two at the most. But Munchkins come in six different flavors, some yeast, some cake. The variety is great, but next thing you know you’ve eaten the donut hole equivalent of more full sized donuts than any normal person would ever consider eating in a single day.

That sounds terrible. Does it though? I think Munchkins are the one thing Los Angeles might end up loving about Dunkin Donuts. First, they have an adorable name.  And second, it’s the kind of food self-trickery that so many people in this town love. Don’t believe me? Google “Fonuts”.

Ok, so it’s not the donuts… except maybe the cruller. The FRENCH cruller.

Sorry. The FRENCH cruller. And the munchkins are just an exercise in denial. So… what is it about Dunkin Donuts that people love? Honestly, it’s the coffee.

Photo courtesy of Blondandbrownie

The coffee? Yup.

Great. Just what we need… another coffee chain. So what are we talking? Single origin? Quality sourced beans? Roasted and brewed with tender love and care? You’re shitting me, right?

Didn’t think so. Fine- so what makes Dunkin Donuts coffee so good? ”So good” might be a bit of an overstatement. I mean… it was good in 2003. But you have to understand that back then you essentially had two choices for chain coffee in LA: Starbucks or Coffee Bean. And both are pretty over-roasted, especially their iced coffee. In comparison, Dunkin is like drinking candy. Especially their iced coffee, which is so popular it gets drank year round. Over creamed, over sugared, candy.

Oh, right. What’s this I hear about ordering “regular coffee”? Actually it’s “coffee regular”. Order that at DD, and you end up with a ton of a cream and sugar in your coffee. Now that I think about it, using coffee as an excuse to drink cream and sugar is pretty much the Massachusetts way.

So they must do lattes and other fancy frozen drinks? They’ve got some of that stuff, but it’s all out of machines.

You mean an espresso machine? Uh, no. A machine like the coffee machine at a hospital, machine. And the frozen drinks come out of something that wouldn’t look out of place at a Dairy Queen.

So their lattes are terrible? No… they’re actually kind of delicious. But it’s not anything you’d confuse with a real latte, pulled fresh by a barista.

And the frozen drinks? If you ever thought to yourself “I wish Frappuccinos came with Oreos in them.” Or “I wish they made a drink that was the same color as Mike from Monsters Inc. and tasted like a jolly rancher”, you will LOVE Dunkin Donuts’ “Coolattas”.

I’m so confused. Is the coffee good or isn’t it? Listen, if you like McDonald’s coffee or you think Starbucks and Coffee Bean are too bitter than you might like Dunkin Donuts. And it’s definitely better than the coffee at most chains, diners, and donut shops in L.A. But, in general, their coffee will seem pretty watered down if you’re used to seeing the words “cold” and “brew” before “ice” and “coffee”, or you’re getting your morning fix from a guy with a handlebar moustache at a place that doesn’t let you use sugar.

And the Coolattas?  I trade 10 of those for one Tim Horton’s Iced Capp. (Did you hear me Burger King!!!)

But in Massachusetts, most people go there for coffee? Yup. That, and breakfast.

Oh, there’s breakfast too? Besides the donuts? Yup. There are muffins, low fat muffins (again, see: “Fonuts”), and Egg and cheese on a bagel is pretty popular.

Oh, like breakfast sandwiches? Yup. Their breakfast sandwiches are pretty popular.

So they’re really good? Again with the “really good”.  It’s all relative.  It’s still a fast food egg disc on a barely passable bagel with bacon and a slice of individually wrapped American cheese- both of which get heated up in a microwave.  Egg Slut, this is not. Hell, it’s not even a New York deli, egg and cheese.  But it’s less greasy than the oil bombs they serve at McDonalds, so L.A. should probably like that too.  You know… if there wasn’t bread involved.

Photo courtesy of @bernardosays

So I guess I won’t be seeing you in line over at the new Dunkin Donuts on Tuesday.  Are you out of mind your mind, kid?  Of course I’ll be there.

But you didn’t really make it sound that great.  Oh, but it is.

Wait, what!?  It’s great if you’re from Massachusetts, or ever lived in Massachusetts or any state surrounding Massachusetts.

French cruller. Photo courtesy of @bernardosays

But I’m not from Massachusetts.  Then you probably won’t think it’s great.  I however, am not above using the opening of L.A.’s first Dunkin Donuts to eat a french cruller, a box of Munchkins, an iced coffee regular, and an egg and cheese on a bagel.   Now if we could just get Anna’s Taqueria to open here…

Wait, what’s Anna’s Taqueria?!  That, my friend, we’ll have to save for a different Q&A.

The first (of many) L.A. Dunkin Donuts will open in Santa Monica on Tuesday September 2nd at 5am.  The first 100 people in line will get a free swag bag, and the very first person will get free coffee for a year.  If you’re allergic to the word “wicked” or hate it when people don’t pronounced the letter R, you might want to stay away.  

Dunkin Donuts, 1132 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica.



  • Agreed on all counts. Dunkin’ Donuts is nothing to get excited about, especially in a donut town like LA.

    But the opening of an Anna’s Taqueria would indeed be a game changer. Hell, I’d settle for Boca Grande.

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    It’s like these people in new york getting excited for denny’s and dairy queen. sigh.

    • Head back to the late 1990s, and Krispy Kreme. Except that a fresh, hot Krispy Kreme donut is a beautiful thing.

      At least New Yorkers ignored the IHOP.

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