November 18, 2023






            Dunkin’ Donuts, now known as simply Dunkin’, is a multinational quick service restaurant. Founded in 1950 by Bill Rosenberg (after opening as Open Kettle in 1948), the chain’s original claim to fame was its donuts and coffee; the two most popular items when he used to sell food to factories and construction sites. The chain continued to expand to include more items on its menu, particularly of the breakfast variety, and almost 13,000 restaurants. Beginning in 1981, Dunkin’ Donuts ran an ad campaign with an advertising mascot called Fred the Baker, portrayed by actor Michael Vale, whose catchphrase was “Time to make the donuts”. The campaign was incredibly popular, with the phrase’s debut commercial being named one of the five best commercials of the 1980s by the Television Bureau of Advertising. When the character was retired in 1997, by fan demand the company created an entire celebration around him including a parade in Boston and a “free donut” day. In 2019, the company began removing “Donuts” from its name to symbolize its new status as a “beverage-led” company, focusing on coffee, tea, and speedy to-go service.

            In 1988, the company attempted to expand into the breakfast market with Dunkin’ Donuts cereal. Produced by Ralston, the cereal featured three shapes representing their donuts: standard ring shapes, round balls for their Munchkins (donut holes), and figure eights. They came in two flavor varieties: glazed and chocolate. Of course, this wasn’t the first donut-inspired cereal on the market, as Ralston had released on in 1980 called Dinky Donuts and General Mills’ Powdered Donutz. Dunkin’s cereal was as short-lived as those two; lasting only a year despite the commercials and the box featuring Fred. Premiums included a send-away offer for a Dunkin’ Donuts-branded duffle bag, a flashlight, a card trick system branded by magician Harry Blackstone Jr., Nintendo trading cards with a chance to win a NES, and a back-to-school kit featuring a pencil case with pencils, erasers, a ruler and a sharpener. The cereal was also part of Ralson’s line-wide promotion offering a real Porsche.

Interactive ad for the cereal.

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