Where Did Dunkin’ Donuts Start?

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Dunkin’ Donuts, now widely known simply as Dunkin’, is a beloved brand in the United States and across the globe. But where did this coffee and donut empire start? Let’s take a deep dive into the history of Dunkin’ Donuts and explore its journey from a single outlet in Massachusetts to over 12,600 locations worldwide.


Dunkin’ Donuts started in Quincy, Massachusetts, in 1948. It was initially called “Open Kettle” by its founder, William Rosenberg. However, the name was changed to Dunkin’ Donuts in 1950. The brand has since grown from a single outlet in Massachusetts to over 12,600 locations worldwide.

The Humble Beginnings in Quincy, Massachusetts

The birthplace of Dunkin’ Donuts is Quincy, Massachusetts. The year was 1948 when founder William Rosenberg opened a coffee and donut shop named Open Kettle. He sold donuts for five cents and coffee for ten cents. However, the name “Open Kettle” didn’t last long. After a brainstorming session with his executives in 1950, Rosenberg decided to rename the restaurant “Dunkin’ Donuts”. The name was inspired by the idea of dunking donuts into coffee, a popular American snack tradition.

The Founding Father: William Rosenberg

Before establishing Dunkin’ Donuts, Rosenberg had successfully operated the Industrial Luncheon Service, which served factory workers during World War II from mobile carts. He realized that workers had limited lunch options and started serving sandwiches, coffee, donuts, and snacks from converted telephone company trucks. Rosenberg’s mission was to offer the best quality coffee he could find, which took his business to a whole new level.

The Original Dunkin’ Donuts Shop

The original Dunkin’ Donuts shop, still standing at 543 Southern Artery, Quincy, has a retro style to honor its origins. The interior features a plaque that reads “This is the site of the Original Dunkin’ Donuts,” as well as original stool chairs in pink and orange colors, and tables with a doughnut design. The counter has also been restored to its original look.

From a Single Outlet to a Global Franchise

The first Dunkin’ Donuts franchise opened in 1955, and by 1963, the number of restaurants had grown to over 100 shops. Dunkin’ Donuts continued to expand its menu, adding Munchkins in 1972 and muffins in 1978. The company’s first international restaurant opened in Canada in 1961. Since then, Dunkin’ Donuts has grown across four continents, with more than 12,400 franchise restaurants in 46 countries. The company has pursued aggressive expansion plans, targeting Europe and other regions.

Evolution of Dunkin’ Donuts

Over the years, Dunkin’ Donuts has undergone several significant changes to adapt to market trends and consumer preferences. In 2018, it officially changed its name to Dunkin’ as part of a multi-year growth plan to transform into an on-the-go, beverage-led brand. Dunkin’ has also embraced digital technology, focusing on mobile ordering, on-the-go orders, curbside ordering, and delivery services. They have experimented with digital-only stores, featuring kiosks for ordering instead of traditional counters.

Dunkin’ Today

As of September 19, 2023, there are 9,508 Dunkin’ locations in the United States and over 3,100 stores in more than 30 countries outside of the US. This totals approximately 12,608 Dunkin’ locations worldwide. The brand continues to evolve and innovate, staying relevant and maintaining its position as a leading coffee and donut chain in the market.

The story of Dunkin’ Donuts is a testament to the power of a simple idea, executed well, and scaled effectively. From its humble beginnings in Quincy, Massachusetts, to becoming a global phenomenon, Dunkin’ continues to be a beloved brand that millions of customers rely on for their daily coffee and donut fix.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the name change from Dunkin’ Donuts to Dunkin’ signify?

The name change from Dunkin’ Donuts to Dunkin’ was part of a rebranding strategy to reflect the company’s focus on beverages, especially coffee. The company wanted to be recognized as a beverage-led brand and not just a donut shop.

Who are Dunkin’s main competitors?

Dunkin’s main competitors include Starbucks, McDonald’s McCafe, and local coffee shops. Despite the competition, Dunkin’ has maintained a strong presence in the market, particularly in the Northeast United States.

What are some of the unique features of Dunkin’s original shop in Quincy, Massachusetts?

The original Dunkin’ Donuts shop in Quincy, Massachusetts, has been preserved to resemble its original appearance. It features a plaque indicating its historical significance, pink and orange stool chairs, tables with a doughnut design, and a counter that has been restored to its original look.

What are Munchkins?

Munchkins are bite-sized donuts that were added to the Dunkin’ Donuts menu in 1972. They come in a variety of flavors, including glazed, chocolate, and jelly-filled, and have become a popular item on the Dunkin’ menu.

What digital innovations has Dunkin’ implemented to stay competitive?

Dunkin’ has embraced digital technology to enhance customer experience and streamline operations. This includes mobile ordering, on-the-go orders, curbside ordering, delivery services, and digital-only stores with kiosks for ordering instead of traditional counters.

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