As soon as I got on the elevator leading out of the metro station, I smelled it –that warm sweet smell of goodness. I knew a Dunkin’ Donuts, aka DD, must be close by. I quickly checked the clock and calculated that I had enough time before my meeting to stop for a doughnut (I mean, a donut).
Because it is physically impossible for me to walk past a Dunkin’ Donuts (or even enter within smelling distance of a Dunkin’ Donuts) without stopping for a donut. And I almost always get the same thing: a chocolate glazed donut.
Lo and behold, at the exit of the metro station I soon spotted the Dunkin’ Donuts. My finely tuned senses, honed over 200,000 years of human evolution, had served me well in leading me to me to this important food source.
There is something so soothing about Dunkin’ Donuts – its unpretentious pink and orange color scheme; the familiar selection of donuts, muffins, pastries, bagels, and of course donut holes on the rack behind the counter; and the predictable question every time you order a coffee, “How many milks and sugars?” Because these are measured in doses at DD, and it is expected that you drink your coffee so sweet and so milky that they should really ask you, “Do you want any coffee with your milk and sugar?” (Personally, I drink mine black.)
Forget fancy European-style cafés, or even the other omnipresent American coffee chain, Starbucks. Dunkin’ Donuts is your down-to-earth, working class coffeehouse, the place where construction workers go for breakfast and you can still buy a coffee with the loose change in your wallet. Dunkin’ Donuts is truly an American institution and something I grew up with in Connecticut.
That said, it is very much an east coast thing, being originally from Massachusetts. You won’t get far in the northeast without crossing a Dunkin’ Donuts (just think about how many times I’ve had to stop for that chocolate glazed donut!). When I first got back to the US in January, I was out in California, and there wasn’t a Dunkin’ Donuts in sight; there were donut shops, but they were all independently owned, and almost always by Chinese people (I was initially quite weirded out by the “Chinese Food and Donuts” signs… I’m not making this up).
But the westward expansion of Dunkin’ Donuts is imminent; apparently they opened the first California location last year and are set to roll out many more in 2014 and 2015. But patience is not one of my virtues. So when I moved out east to DC, I felt that part of my east coast homecoming was being able to go to Dunkin’ Donuts again. It just ain’t home without that chocolate glazed.