Boston Runs on Dunkin. But Why?

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If America really does run on Dunkin, then by default Boston ought to be the nation’s capital city. (Sorry, Washington.)

When friends from out of town are back in Boston, it seems like the first thing many of them do is scour Logan to get their Dunkin Donuts fix. When a co-worker is already running late, she’ll still wait in line before going to work. And we could probably save the whole planet if we eliminated the smog that comes solely from the cars waiting in the drive through.

So my question is this: Why do we love Dunkin Donuts so much?

I started really thinking about this a few weeks back, on a hot August day when I got an iced coffee so bad that I wasn’t actually even sure it was iced coffee. It could’ve been iced tea or even the swill from the bottom of the dumpster out back. I passed it around to friends, none of whom could confirm my brownish-colored drink was actually coffee.

But here’s the thing: I still finished it.

Why do we put up with this bitter, soulless swill on a daily basis? Why do we wait in absurdly long lines for Dunkin Donuts coffee when, almost anywhere in the city, you could probably find a better cup for the same price with a shorter wait.

A lot of this, I think, has to do with this city’s fierce loyalty. When we love something, we love it to death. So how could we turn away from the chain that’s been a part of our lives as long as we’ve been in Boston, as long as we’ve been New Englanders. Hell, even our politicians dole it out so much that passing out java seems to have surpassed our politicians normal activities: posing with animals and getting indicted by the feds.

And maybe I just don’t have that loyalty. Before this year, I wasn’t much of a coffee drinker. I’d keep myself caffeinated with a pretty steady flow of Diet Coke, but I saved the hard stuff for the roughest bleary-eyed mornings and those afternoons that seemed to drag on for weeks. That changed this spring, when I broke my arm in a bike crash, was out of work for a week, and returned to the office armed with powerful prescription painkillers and a serious lack of sleep.

That’s when coffee became my best friend. I had one before I got on the train, another one when I got to the office, and a few more before I went home. I was a fiend; it didn’t matter where I got it, as long as I had some. Even with all that caffeine in my system, I’d be in bed by 8.

Ever since then I was hooked, unable to go back to my pre-coffee days. But I’m loyal only to the caffeine now; it doesn’t matter where I get my fix. When I need more than an energy boost, though, I go out of my way for a decent cup, grabbing something at Render, Pavement, or Peets, each of which is further than Dunks but offers a far superior cup.

We take pride in so much here, from our local beers to our (usually very good) athletic teams. So can’t we take pride in a coffee that actually, you know, tastes good?

Yes, I’ll pay a bit more for a better coffee. But you know what? The line’s shorter, too.