Time to Make the Donuts...

There are two things us north-easterners have come to depend on, and one of them just left carpeted us with 30 inches of snow after a week of 60-degree temperatures. But if the uncertainty of our weather is one thing we can depend on, the other would have to be the absolute certitude that you will find a Dunkin' Donuts every half mile down any road you happen to be on. I am just lucky enough to live in the capital of the Dunkin' empire itself, with two within a stone's throw of my house, so I grew up on donuts and munchkins.

Yes, there's reassuring certainty in driving by the "Dunkies" every day, which is probably why this old nostalgia bomb I'm about to drop on you was so right in its time. This will harken you back to a time when you thought about Dunkin' Donuts for their, well, donuts, rather than for their cheap (and therefore better) coffee. You may remember that throughout the 80s and most of the 90s, DDs hired a live-action Mario-looking guy to be their mascot. He was an enthusiastic donut maker who would diligently rise out of bed early in the morning every day with the groggy existential crisis of his endless work routine, summarizing it with his monotone catchphrase "Time to make the donuts...," before dutifully donning the apron and happy face to offer up "service with a smile" before retreating back to his gloom for another day. This man's name was Fred.

So here's the reason why these Fred the Baker ads ran for so many years: we are Fred, and he is us. Most of us have to get out bed in the morning, slap ourselves in the face in the mirror, jump in the car, and go toil out there in the world to make a living every day. You see? We all got donuts to make. But it's not all gloom, because sometimes we're also the people putting in the order for the box of twelves, trying to play a good game of mix-and-match for optimum variety... cream-filled, jelly-filled, chocolate covered...etc, chased down with one of those big boxes of Munchkins. And so we know that in some odd way it's worth it if we find any way we can to enjoy ourselves while we're doing the slog, just like Fred. Or we don't, and we quit and go work at the BK ball pit.

Remember this box art?
These ads formed some of my earliest memories about Dunkin' going all the way back to when I was a Munchkin myself, and I was surprised to learn they actually played all the way up until 1997 when they finally decided to "retire" (or perhaps "lay off") their long-suffering, ever-committed (and perhaps commit-able) donut maker. They even had a "free donut" day when they decided to put this bit of marketing genius out to pasture, and I do remember this and many other "free donut" days growing up.

My favorite has always been Boston Cream.

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