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Is it time to drop the ‘Donuts’?

At first glance, stripping the “Donuts” from Dunkin’ Donuts might seem radical.
At first glance, stripping the “Donuts” from Dunkin’ Donuts might seem radical.(Lane Turner/Globe Staff/file 2015)

Is it time to drop the doughnuts?

At first glance, stripping the “Donuts” from Dunkin’ Donuts might seem radical.

After all, many of us grew up where the chain’s doughnut-making was a focus, a point of pride. You could smell all that sugary goodness from the street.

But the Canton-based chain has long since shifted its emphasis to coffee and other beverages. In nearly all shops, the doughnuts are now baked in off-site commissaries.

Now, we learn that Dunkin’ Brands is testing the idea of rechristening the chain Dunkin’, without the Donuts. A franchise is opening in Pasadena, Calif., this month with the truncated name. More are coming. The test coincides with a major restaurant redesign to be rolled out next year.

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Whether the idea can work depends on two key constituencies: the franchisees and the customers.

Ed Shanahan, executive director of the Dunkin’ Donuts Independent Franchise Owners, tells me he wouldn’t be surprised if “Dunkin’ ” became the operable name. He says franchisees don’t seem particularly concerned today. They might be open to the change, if done methodically, over time. Franchise contracts typically require a shop to be updated every 10 years, he says, and any sign change like this should be part of those periodic renovations.

As for the customers, a rebranding likely will be tested in “emerging markets,” places where the chain doesn’t have much of a foothold. How this plays out in core markets is another story. But most of us already call it Dunkin’ -- or Dunks, or Dunkies, or some other abbreviated moniker.

Maybe losing the Donuts wouldn’t be so radical after all.

Jon Chesto is a Globe reporter. Reach him at jon.chesto@globe.com and follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.


Jon Chesto is a Globe reporter. Reach him at jon.chesto@globe.com and follow him on Twitter @jonchesto.

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