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A Dozen Facts You Might Not Know About Dunkin' Donuts

With more than 11,300 locations in 37 countries around the world that serve, on average, a total of three million customers a day, Dunkin' Donuts serves a lot of iced, glaze,d and sprinkled fried dough. Grab a coffee and one of their 52 varieties of doughnuts (or a croissant doughnut, if that’s your thing) and enjoy a dozen facts about Dunkin'.

1. THE CONCEPT HAS MOBILE ROOTS.

Future founder William Rosenberg started his life in the food service industry as a lunch caterer to industrial workers. He used the $1500 he made selling bonds during World War II and borrowed $3500 from relatives to launch Industrial Luncheon Services. Rosenberg started buying taxicabs to convert into catering vehicles, and when he noticed that 40 percent of his revenue came from just two products (coffee and doughnuts), Rosenberg had an epiphany.

2. DUNKIN' DONUTS WAS NOT THE SHOP'S FIRST NAME.

When Rosenberg opened his first brick-and-mortar store in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1948, he called it Open Kettle. He soon determined that a better name would sell more doughnuts and coffee, so he put his executives in a room and told them to brainstorm new names. His architect is said to be the one who came up with Dunkin' Donuts, and in 1950, they made it official.

3. DUNKIN' REVOLUTIONIZED HOW RESTAURANTS WERE FRANCHISED.

As the company grew, Rosenberg made the controversial decision to franchise. The concept was almost illegal in some states, and franchising was so taboo that companies that mentioned the word weren’t allowed to advertise in major newspapers. But Rosenberg wanted to turn the idea into a respectable, money-making profession. "Franchising supports the great American dream of allowing multitudes to own and succeed in their own businesses," he said decades later. By 1960, he had founded the International Franchise Assn., which still exists today.

4. FRANCHISES STILL USE ROSENBERG'S ORIGINAL COFFEE BLEND RECIPE.

It's said that he liked his company’s coffee so much that Rosenberg drank a cup of it every morning. He was also rumored to serve Dunkin’ doughnuts in his home. Now that sounds like an easy way to host brunch!

5. FOCUSING ON THE COFFEE REVOLUTIONIZED THE COMPANY.

While the company was by no means failing when new CEO Jon Luther came on in January 2003, his idea to change the company’s focus from doughnuts to coffee revitalized the brand. From then to 2006, when the slogan "America runs on Dunkin'" was launched, Luther brought espresso beverages to the menu, hired a new team of chefs, and redesigned stores with a focus on java. His hard work paid off. Over the next seven years, the company nearly doubled their number of stores and sales increased 66 percent.

6. DUNKIN' NOW SELLS 30 CUPS OF COFFEE EVERY SECOND, ON AVERAGE.

That amounts to 1.7 billion cups of hot and iced coffee globally every year. All of which are taste-tested by Dunkin' coffee experts who try 200 cups of coffee every day.

7. IT'S NOT ENTIRELY DUNKIN'S FAULT IF YOU SPELL "DOUGHNUT" WRONG.

The term "doughnut" was first used to describe a fried ball of dough by author Washington Irving in 1809. The truncated spelling appeared about 100 years later, before the founding of Dunkin’. However, use of the spelling "donut" grew significantly after the company was launched in 1950.

8. IN THE FIRST THREE MONTHS AFTER ITS DEBUT, DUNKIN' SOLD 8.5 MILLION CROISSANT DOUGHNUTS.

Based on the Cronut invented by New York’s Dominique Ansel Bakery, Dunkin’ introduced their croissant-doughnut mashup in November 2014 as a temporary menu item. It proved to be such a smash hit, it has stayed on Dunkin’ menus across the country ever since.

9. DUNKIN' HAS ALWAYS HAD A SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP WITH BOSTON.

Besides filming commercials with local sports heroes David Ortiz and Rob Gronkowski, Boston-area Dunkin' Donuts, at the request of law enforcement officials, stayed open during the citywide lockdown instituted during the manhunt for the second Boston marathon bombing suspect in 2013. While the company issued a statement that it encouraged everyone to stay home, all were welcome at open Dunkin’ locations, especially cops, who were served coffee and doughnuts for free.

10. DUNKIN' ONCE SOLD AN EASTER EGG DOUGHNUT.

As a holiday promotion in 1979, customers could pick up a carton of a dozen Easter egg-shaped doughnuts for just $1.49. The eggs were chocolate-covered and topped with sprinkles, and though the price eventually went up to $1.99 in the '80s, that's still cheaper than a dozen Munchkins.

11. SOUTH KOREA ALSO RUNS ON DUNKIN'.

In 2014, the company operated more than 900 locations across the country, making South Korea Dunkin’ Donuts's largest international market. South Korean franchises tend to be busier at night than in the morning, and while you can always get a classic glazed, you can also pick up a black rice doughnut or jalapeño sausage pie doughnut with your bubble tea latte.

12. A HANDFUL OF COUPLES HAVE GOTTEN MARRIED AT DUNKIN' DONUTS.

Getty

Surrounded by doughnuts, Cliff Ranson and Elizabeth Fischer tied the knot (while drinking coffee) in a Williamstown, New Jersey location in December 2010. The pair said it was their own inside joke, as they had been known to hit the drive-thru twice a night. And they aren't the only lovebirds who bonded over some doughnuts. The chain sponsored a "Hole-y Matrimony Contest" in 2004, and two lucky couples got all-expenses paid weddings at their local Dunkin', complete with powdered doughnut cakes.

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A.C. Gilbert, the Toymaker Who (Actually) Saved Christmas 
Travel Salem via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0
Travel Salem via Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Alfred Carlton Gilbert was told he had 15 minutes to convince the United States government not to cancel Christmas.

For hours, he paced the outer hall, awaiting his turn before the Council of National Defense. With him were the tools of his trade: toy submarines, air rifles, and colorful picture books. As government personnel walked by, Gilbert, bashful about his cache of kid things, tried hiding them behind a leather satchel.

Finally, his name was called. It was 1918, the U.S. was embroiled in World War I, and the Council had made an open issue about their deliberation over whether to halt all production of toys indefinitely, turning factories into ammunition centers and even discouraging giving or receiving gifts that holiday season. Instead of toys, they argued, citizens should be spending money on war bonds. Playthings had become inconsequential.

Frantic toymakers persuaded Gilbert, founder of the A.C. Gilbert Company and creator of the popular Erector construction sets, to speak on their behalf. Toys in hand, he faced his own personal firing squad of military generals, policy advisors, and the Secretary of War.

Gilbert held up an air rifle and began to talk. What he’d say next would determine the fate of the entire toy industry.

Even if he had never had to testify on behalf of Christmas toys, A.C. Gilbert would still be remembered for living a remarkable life. Born in Oregon in 1884, Gilbert excelled at athletics, once holding the world record for consecutive chin-ups (39) and earning an Olympic gold medal in the pole vault during the 1908 Games. In 1909, he graduated from Yale School of Medicine with designs on remaining in sports as a health advisor.

But medicine wasn’t where Gilbert found his passion. A lifelong performer of magic, he set his sights on opening a business selling illusionist kits. The Mysto Manufacturing Company didn’t last long, but it proved to Gilbert that he had what it took to own and operate a small shingle. In 1916, three years after introducing the Erector sets, he renamed Mysto the A.C. Gilbert Company.

Erector was a big hit in the burgeoning American toy market, which had typically been fueled by imported toys from Germany. Kids could take the steel beams and make scaffolding, bridges, and other small-development projects. With the toy flying off shelves, Gilbert’s factory in New Haven, Connecticut grew so prosperous that he could afford to offer his employees benefits that were uncommon at the time, like maternity leave and partial medical insurance.

Gilbert’s reputation for being fair and level-headed led the growing toy industry to elect him their president for the newly created Toy Manufacturers of America, an assignment he readily accepted. But almost immediately, his position became something other than ceremonial: His peers began to grow concerned about the country’s involvement in the war and the growing belief that toys were a dispensable effort.

President Woodrow Wilson had appointed a Council of National Defense to debate these kinds of matters. The men were so preoccupied with the consequences of the U.S. marching into a European conflict that something as trivial as a pull-string toy or chemistry set seemed almost insulting to contemplate. Several toy companies agreed to convert to munitions factories, as did Gilbert. But when the Council began discussing a blanket prohibition on toymaking and even gift-giving, Gilbert was given an opportunity to defend his industry.

Before Gilbert was allowed into the Council’s chambers, a Naval guard inspected each toy for any sign of sabotage. Satisfied, he allowed Gilbert in. Among the officials sitting opposite him were Secretary of War Newton Baker and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.

“The greatest influences in the life of a boy are his toys,” Gilbert said. “Yet through the toys American manufacturers are turning out, he gets both fun and an education. The American boy is a genuine boy and wants genuine toys."

He drew an air rifle, showing the committee members how a child wielding less-than-lethal weapons could make for a better marksman when he was old enough to become a soldier. He insisted construction toys—like the A.C. Gilbert Erector Set—fostered creative thinking. He told the men that toys provided a valuable escape from the horror stories coming out of combat.

Armed with play objects, a boy’s life could be directed toward “construction, not destruction,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert then laid out his toys for the board to examine. Secretary Daniels grew absorbed with a toy submarine, marveling at the detail and asking Gilbert if it could be bought anywhere in the country. Other officials examined children’s books; one began pushing a train around the table.

The word didn’t come immediately, but the expressions on the faces of the officials told the story: Gilbert had won them over. There would be no toy or gift embargo that year.

Naturally, Gilbert still devoted his work floors to the production efforts for both the first and second world wars. By the 1950s, the A.C. Gilbert Company was dominating the toy business with products that demanded kids be engaged and attentive. Notoriously, he issued a U-238 Atomic Energy Lab, which came complete with four types of uranium ore. “Completely safe and harmless!” the box promised. A Geiger counter was included. At $50 each, Gilbert lost money on it, though his decision to produce it would earn him a certain infamy in toy circles.

“It was not suitable for the same age groups as our simpler chemistry and microscope sets, for instance,” he once said, “and you could not manufacture such a thing as a beginner’s atomic energy lab.”

Gilbert’s company reached an astounding $20 million in sales in 1953. By the mid-1960s, just a few years after Gilbert's death in 1961, it was gone, driven out of business by the apathy of new investors. No one, it seemed, had quite the same passion for play as Gilbert, who had spent over half a century providing fun and educational fare that kids were ecstatic to see under their trees.

When news of the Council’s 1918 decision reached the media, The Boston Globe's front page copy summed up Gilbert’s contribution perfectly: “The Man Who Saved Christmas.”

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Ho, No: Christmas Trees Will Be Expensive and Scarce This Year
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The annual tradition of picking out the healthiest, densest, biggest tree that you can tie to your car’s roof and stuff in your living room won’t be quite the same this year. According to The New York Times, Christmas trees will be scarce in some parts of the country and markedly more expensive overall.

The reason? Not Krampus, Belsnickel, or Scrooge, but something even more miserly: the American economy. The current situation has roots in 2008, when families were buying fewer trees due to the recession. Because more trees stayed in the ground, tree farms planted fewer seeds that year. And since firs grow in cycles of 8 to 10 years, we’re now arriving at a point where that diminished supply is beginning to impact the tree industry.

New York Times reporter Tiffany Hsu reports that 2017’s healthier holiday spending habits are set to drive up the price of trees as consumers vie for the choicest cuts on the market. In 2008, trees were just under $40 on average. Now, they’re $75 or more.

This doesn’t mean you can’t get a nice tree at a decent price—just that some farms will run out of prime selections more quickly and you might have to settle for something a little less impressive than in years past. Tree industry experts also caution that the shortages could last through 2025.

[h/t New York Times]

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