3 Reasons Not To Trust Dunkin’ Donuts
Before today’s food rant, I need to pause and acknowledge something important. This past weekend, the food world lost a luminary. Marcella Hazan passed away. She was, and thanks to her books will continue to be, a tremendous influence on how I think about food in general, and Italian food in particular.
If you don’t have Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, I suggest you pick up a copy today.
Earlier this weekend I was chatting with Marcella’s daughter-in-law on Twitter. We were going back and forth about donuts, and the horror that Dunkin’ Donuts has unleashed on the American culinary landscape. Honestly, I really think their donuts were much better twenty years ago, when each location fried their own donuts on site.
Sometimes the sacrifices an enterprise makes for uniform consistency across the brand aren’t worth the payoff. Dunkin’ Donuts isn’t unique in this regard. They are unique in that their category is now almost bereft of any local competition. One really has to look hard to find a good, old-fashioned donut shop.
And perhaps because they’ve cornered the market, Dunkin’ Donuts has been able to get away with a lot.
1. Bagels with Butter Aren’t
There’s a bigger problem when people are getting their bagels from a donut shop. Just because both are round with a hole in the center doesn’t mean they can be made in the same place. One gets boiled and baked, the other gets proofed and deep fried. It’s different equipment, different techniques and an entirely different set of expertise.
That said, when you order a bagel with butter, you should get a bagel with butter.
The Boston Globe reports, “Craig Polewaczyk of Worcester was recently disappointed after taking a bite of a bagel ordered with butter. He complained that it didn’t taste like butter and was told he was right. Even though 1) he asked for butter and 2) his receipt said ‘butter,’ the bagel was schmeared with margarine. No apology or refund followed.”
You can read the full article here. But the reported did some digging and reached a Dunkin’ Donuts spokesperson who had the following to say:
For food safety reasons, we do not allow butter to be stored at room temperature, which is the temperature necessary for butter to be easily spread onto a bagel or pastry,
I say hogwash. Stewarts Shops in upstate New York solves this problem by slicing a generous hunk of butter from a large brick to fill their bagels and rolls. But barring that approach, whipped butter spreads just as easily as whipped cream cheese and whipped margarine.
But, by a show of hands can I see how many people are surprised? Especially considering that…
2) Dunkin’ Donuts’ “Fried Egg” Contains 13 Ingredients
Okay. That doesn’t even seem possible. An egg is an egg. The fried eggs I make at home use an egg, some butter, a bit of salt, and a grind of pepper. That’s four ingredients. What are the other nine? Well, here’s the list:
1) Egg whites
3) Egg yolks
4) Modified corn starch
5-7) “Natural Sauteed Flavor”
– Soybean oil
– Medium chain triglycerides
– Natural flavor
9-10) “Artificial Butter Flavor”
– Propylene glycol
– Artificial flavor
11) Xanthan gum
12) Citric acid
13) Coarse ground black pepper
I think that last one has to be a joke. Think about this for a moment. This isn’t an egg. It’s an assemblage of ingredients made from eggs, designed to look like a fried egg. It can’t be fried, though. If it were, it wouldn’t need the “Natural Sauteed Flavor.” And even if it were fried, it wasn’t fried in butter. Otherwise it wouldn’t contain “Artificial Butter Flavor.”
Plus there is more water in Dunkin’ Donuts “fried egg” than egg yolk? It makes my head hurt just thinking about it. But dammit, they want that egg to really sing, so they season it with coarsely ground black pepper.
But this isn’t the only mislabeling of a food product on the menu…
3. “Blueberry Cake Donuts” Contain No Trace of Blueberries Whatsoever
“But wait,” you say “I’ve had one of those before and it’s filled with blueberry specks.”
No, it’s not. Those things that you see that look like pieces of fruit have a surprising name. Dunkin’ Donuts calls them “Flavor Crystals”. Sometimes companies will replace expensive blueberries with some other cheap dried fruit, dyed and flavored to look like blueberries. Dunkin’ is actually guilty of that strategy too with their blueberry bagel, but in this blueberry donut they use no fruit at all.
Flavor crystals are made entirely from:
2) Corn syrup
3) Corn cereal
4) Modified food starch
5) Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil
6) Artificial flavor
7) Red 40
8) Green 3
9) Blue 1
Sounds delicious. But seriously, I have no idea how the donut maker is legally allowed to say they sell blueberry donuts when they don’t.
Butter isn’t butter. Eggs aren’t eggs. Blueberries aren’t blueberries. It’s like this classic American institution has transformed into an Orwellian nightmare. I grew up on Dunkin’ Donuts. They fueled my childhood. But now it’s just sadness and lies.
I’d rather eat no donut than sully the memories of my youth with one of the artificially flavored discs of sorrow and despair that line this chain’s shelves.
Dunkin’ Donuts has gone steeply downhill. I’d love for them to turn the brand around. But with throngs of people lined up dutifully every day, I see no incentive for change. The only hope is to expose the partial truths, the hidden ingredients, and the corners that are cut in the name of corporate profits.
It’s totally unacceptable, and I contend there is no reason for anyone to ever go.