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Nostalgia and the Dunkin’ Donuts Vagrant

Dunkin’ Donuts is the only place that people who are already cranked up would order an extra-large coffee with 15 sugars. Just look at that man’s eyes, they are popping like a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

That was a real thought I had this weekend because that was a real thing I saw this weekend.

Dunkin is weird like that. It always seems to attract strange people.

The best SNL sketch from the past couple of years is Casey Affleck playing a vagrant in this Dunkin Donuts parody. Because it is 200% accurate.

The thing about Dunkin is that it’s not good. Their donuts make me sleepy and the coffee hurts my stomach, the standard iced tea is full of cream and sugar, and I remember once hearing at my school that they deep fry their coffee beans. I doubt this is true and have never found anything to corroborate it, but would you be surprised if they came out tomorrow with that information in a press release?

They haven’t really mastered anything and yet they are constantly innovating. I remember once telling someone in Italy that they have breakfast sandwiches and lunch options, they looked at me confused and asked when they were going to start selling pizzas. At the time I thought they were clowning Dunkin for its overreach on the market, but in retrospect maybe they were just offended that they didn’t sell pizzas. Who knows?

Despite this, I always find myself heading back to Dunkin against my better judgement and stomach pains.

It’s because I grew up in Boston, Dunkin Ground Zero. Boston has so many Dunkins that you can stand in front of one, have one directly across the street and be able to see one around the corner. Don’t believe me?

In 2013, there were 1118 restaurants open in the state alone. That’s one every 9.5 square mile. There are only 204 Starbucks.

Boston alone, a city of less than 700,000 people, has 61 Dunkies.

If this whole writing thing doesn’t work out, I’m going to move back and franchise one.

I live in LA now, but I get a little bit of comfort whenever I see those purple and orange letters and hold one of those cheap Styrofoam cups.

Dunkin would say that its advertising has worked. That slapping its name on everything in that city has paid off in cases like me.

But I don’t know if it’s advertising. I think that it is the same thing that causes you to think that no meal is better than your mom’s even though objectively that is not true.

I won’t use my mom as an example because she actually crushes the 10 things that she knows how to make, but I have definitely been to certain people’s homes who swear by their mother’s cooking and you just feel a meh when you try it.

It’s also that one specific dish that they call out.

Living in LA, I see a lot with my Hispanic friends. They cite that their parents’ dish is better than the Mexican food here. This is a lie. How do I know? Because living in LA, I am also exposed to the best Mexican cuisine in America. None of my friends’ parents own restaurants in the Mexican Food mecca of this country.

I have been to the best Mexican restaurants in the world. So have they. They are not located in their backyard.

My friend from Tijuana claims that the meat there, the same meat that he says has flies on it at the store, is better than in the US. This is an even bigger lie.

Nostalgia works in a funny way. It goes against all the traditional logic to come to a point that only resonates with you.

It’s why people look back at college in awe, even though all signs say that if they continued to live their life drinking and eating that way they would be dead by 30. They stayed in a dorm that is smaller than most prison cells. They would stay up all night, literally, cramming for tests. They were dirt poor and couldn’t do anything.

And yet, if you ask a crop of people on their favorite era, most would travel to back then. Because that will always be their alma mater, will always be the first place they could home in their adult life, and will always have a warm place in their heart.

I’m a Bostonian. I guess that is my ethnicity. I know that Dunkin Donuts all in all are unpleasant. They are dirty, too sweet, and honestly not worth it.

I think people from Boston would cite our love for Dunkin as our blue-collar attitude and work ethic. I would argue that any place that tethers itself so strongly to a chain restaurant is inching eerily close to white trash territory, but who am I to rain on the parade?

Dunkin is our nostalgia.

And so, I am happy to report that some 3,000 + miles away, Dunkin is attracting the same questionable people ordering way too much coffee and getting way too comfortable. The coffee still hurts my head and the donuts still taste anything but fresh.

For whatever sick reason, I find this all charming and wouldn’t have it any other way. I will probably even drag my girlfriend out there again this weekend. Maybe she will want to split an order of munchkins.

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