Thursday, June 08, 2006
Shaking Hands with Mister Donut
This will be the first post in a two-part series discussing culturally significant donut chains from years past – an idea inspired by our recent acquisition of two vintage, donut-themed coffee mugs. The first installment will focus on the rise and fall of one of the greatest donut empires in American history – Mister Donut.
Primed by years of experience running Industrial Luncheon Services, a Boston-based company providing lunch and snacks to local factory workers, William Rosenberg founded the Open Kettle donut shop in 1948. Two years later he changed the name of his Quincy, Massachusetts-based store to Dunkin Donuts.
In 1955, after much Donut-Success, Rosenberg signed his first DD franchise contract – a move not supported by his partner/brother-in-law Harry Winokur. Rosenberg ended up buying Winokur out, and, as you know, went on to build the most successful Donut-Retailer in history. Not long after the family feud, in what was most likely a jealous bid in response to his brother-in-law’s success, Winokur founded his own donut chain, Mister Donut. Apparently his aversion to franchising was fleeting, since over the next 15 years Mister Donut became the second largest donut franchise in America, second to you-know-who. In 1970 Winokur sold his life’s work to the Minnesota-based food giant International Multifoods.
By the 1980’s MD had over 550 stores in the US and Canada and was still enjoying their second place position – but not for long. In 1990, the English corporate giant Allied-Lyons plc purchased Dunkin Donuts from Rosenberg for a reported £196 million. In some sort of beautiful, corporate, familial-closure, immediately after becoming a subsidiary of Allied-Lyons, DD exercised even more capitalist greed and put in a bid to acquire Mister Donut from International Multifoods. Mister Donut stores were then offered the option of taking on a Dunkin-Identity if they wished, which a majority did given the wider recognition of the DD brand.
Today, Mister Donut survives mostly in Asia, with a heavy presence in Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines (the Japanese company Duskin Co. Ltd. acquired franchising rights to MD in 1983). With the exception of a handful of stores in Ontario, North America has become completely Dunkinized.
Blognut would like to raise our coffee mug in honor of the legendary Mister Donut.