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Dunkin’ CEO: Our sandwiches are snacks, not lunch

NEW YORK — If you’re grabbing a sandwich at Dunkin’ Donuts, the chain wants you to consider it a snack, not lunch.

The chain has been expanding its sandwich offerings to bring in more business during the afternoon. But Dunkin’ Brands CEO Nigel Travis said those sandwiches — which include fried chicken and grilled cheese varieties — shouldn’t be considered lunch.

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‘‘We’re not moving into lunch. We’re in snacking. We never talk about lunch,’’ Travis said in an interview.

Travis said Dunkin’ is focused on two growth areas — breakfast and snacking. The strategy is a reflection of how people are increasingly eating several smaller meals a day, rather than sticking to just breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Dunkin’, which is based in Canton, Mass., isn’t the only company going after the snacking business. It’s a strategy being used by numerous fast-food chains to get people in the door between meals and help boost overall sales.

For its part, Dunkin’ has historically done most of its business before 11 a.m. To attract more customers after that morning crush, it rolled out a lineup of deli-like sandwiches in 2012. The offerings are relatively compact so they can be easily eaten on the go, but most have more than 400 calories.

What exactly qualifies as a snack varies from person to person. But Lauri Boone, a registered dietitian, in the Rochester, N.Y., area, said people should think of snacks as a ‘‘small, satisfying portion of food that can help curb hunger or a craving between meals.’’

When asked whether a 500-calorie sandwich could be a snack, she said no.

‘‘That is a meal,’’ she said.

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