It’s safe to say this person will never be the Mayor of Dunkin’ Donuts.
When a customer took to the company’s Facebook page Sunday to complain that an employee used a hot cup to insulate an iced coffee, New England die-hards who swear by the practice came out swinging.
“Can your New England stores stop doing this? Wasteful?!,” the customer wrote in the original post, which included a picture of a plastic cup filled with iced coffee fit snugly inside the offending foam container.
Cue the koozie crusaders — and there were many.
“GOOF we want our hot cups!!!!!!!! u don’t want them, then don’t get one,” one commenter replied. “crybaby!!!!!”
Another person wrote, “They better never stop! Stop complaining! You’re like the only one complaining!” (This wasn’t true. Some others — but admittedly, not many — agreed with the original commenter.)
As of Friday morning, more than 2,100 similar responses had flooded the company’s Facebook page. And as more people piled on, the debate about the environmental effects of what’s often called “double cupping” heated up.
Dunkin’ has been heavily criticized in recent years as more customers and environmental activists have pushed the company to phase out the use of cups made of polystyrene, more commonly known as Styrofoam or foam.
Communities like Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville have banned the use of polystyrene, forcing Dunkin’ to come up with alternatives for serving hot beverages in those markets. And the company says the non-foam cups they came up with fit just fine over the plastic iced cups.
As for ditching foam completely, Dunkin’ maintains it’s working diligently to find a suitable solution. So far, it has identified two possible replacements: a #5 polypropylene plastic cup, and a double-walled paper cup.
“We remain committed to finding a long-term alternative to the foam cup,” Justin Drake, senior manager of public relations at Dunkin’ Donuts, said in a statement. “Our alternative cups are currently being used in several communities in the Boston area, including Brookline and Somerville, as well as in other states such as California.”
While the history of “double-cupping” is unclear, one thing is for certain: Customers in New England seem passionate about them. It’s not just because they keep the coffee cold. Fans have raved that they serve as “condensation catchers,” preventing hands from getting cold and wet as one clutches a drink in the heat.
Representatives from the donut company said they don’t recommend “double-cupping our beverages” but added that it’s up to individual franchises to decide whether to offer customers the extra cup. At some Dunkin’ Donuts locations, people are charged a fee for the insulation. Other places give them away for free.
Company officials acknowledged that “people across New England and throughout the country have their own preferences for how they love to enjoy their iced coffee,” but they couldn’t definitively say whether using a hot cup as a koozie is more popular in any particular regions or markets.
If the reactions on the company’s Facebook page this week are any indication, the practice is decidedly a New England trend.
Look no further than this comment sent to the person who complained: “You need to leave New England.”
Steve Annear can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.