The Nostalgic Dunkin' Slogan You May Not Remember

In 2006, Dunkin' Donuts adopted the slogan "America Runs on Dunkin." This signalled a shift from a donut-centric business to a promotional campaign that emphasized coffee and the extensive menu options that they offer throughout the day that help keep the people fueled and energized. It appears the marketing approach may have worked out okay.

Dunkin' is now the second largest coffee chain in the U.S. in terms of number of locations, behind only the bean behemoth of Starbucks. Quality-wise, they came in at a respectable number five out of 15 on our list of fast food coffees ranked from worst to best. To further illustrate that they were more than just a baked goods shop, in 2019 Dunkin' Donuts dropped the donuts from its name and became known simply as Dunkin,' going the route of mononymous musicians, celebrities, and artists from Prince and Fabio to Beyonce and Bansky. But back in the day donuts did take center stage for Dunkin'. While the current aforementioned tagline is now firmly etched in many people's brains, there is one nostalgic Dunkin' slogan you may not remember that had its own long run of success.

Time to make an iconic commercial

The 80's seemed to produce some of the snappiest advertisements that balanced a clear message with levity. Pithy catchphrases like Wendy's "Where's the beef?", which the fast food burger chain has even brought back, resonated with audiences. Dunkin' created its own slew of iconic commercials in 1981, introducing the catchphrase "time to make the donuts." The ads featured a character named Fred the Baker, played by actor Michael Vale (via The Retro Network).

Fred was often shown in bed being jolted awake by an ear-splitting alarm clock and staring into the camera zombie-like to announce that it was "time to make the donuts," a reference to him rising at dawn to prepare fresh donuts every day for the hungry masses. The campaign was designed to separate Dunkin' from the competition by emphasizing freshness and quality. Fred's resigned tone was also an acknowledgment of the repetitive nature of the daily grind. It was such a popular slogan in its day that it became a cultural idiom denoting a tedious routine or activity (per Marketing Profs). While his baker persona somewhat reluctantly shuffled off to his job, the actor version of Fred probably didn't mind the steady gig. Vale appeared in the "time to make the donuts" commercials for 15 years.