Why You Should Take A Second Glance At Dunkin's Ingredients

If you're a regular at Dunkin', home of beloved picks like Chocolate and Strawberry Frosted donuts, you may know that their tasty baked goods aren't exactly promoting all-natural or local ingredients. But, even so, some of the ingredients they do use may raise an eyebrow or two — or in some extreme cases, may even raise a lawsuit or two. Over the course of five months in 2017, the popular donut and coffee chain racked up three separate pieces of litigation, each of which was centered around complaints regarding how particular Dunkin' menu items were made.

It started in late March of that year when a Massachusetts customer filed a lawsuit against two separate franchise groups in Boston, operating 20-plus locations. As The Boston Globe reports, the complaint claimed that customers of those specific restaurants were being served margarine and butter substitute for their bagels instead of real butter, even though the latter had been specifically requested. 

A Dunkin' spokesperson, Michelle King, addressed the complaint, clarifying that Dunkin' does indeed "carry both individual whipped butter packets, and a butter-substitute vegetable spread." While the lawsuit was being processed, it came to light that there was a common practice to use margarine instead of butter due to its greater spreadability. As such, the plaintiff persisted with his lawsuit, and the parties eventually reached a nominal settlement. But that wasn't the end of the story...

There were two more lawsuits waged against Dunkin' that year

Just three months later, in June 2017, Dunkin' again found itself in hot water, this time in connection with its Angus Steak and Egg Breakfast Sandwich. Another irate customer — this time in Queens, New York — accused the company of "false, deceptive and misleading" advertising, claiming that the breakfast item contained a ground beef patty, "an inferior product of minced meat that contains fillers and binders," and not in fact steak, as was advertised (via Boston.com). The other caveat, the lawsuit said, was that Dunkin' was charging $.40 to $.50 more for this purportedly upgraded item.

To drive home the point, the legal filings went so far as to quote the Code of Federal Regulations, which provides an official definition for steak. Dunkin' rep Michelle King again was called upon for comment, but declined as it was "pending litigation." In the end, the Angus Steak Breakfast Sandwich was quietly retired in 2018, as part of a menu-wide "streamlining" effort, according to Today.

To cap it all off, Dunkin' was again taken to task in July of 2017, this time for one of its beloved donut flavors, the "Blueberry Crumb Cake Donut." The plaintiff, a customer in Chicago, sought an incredible $5 million in damages for Dunkin's use of "flavored crystals" as a substitute for blueberries. Had he known the true ingredients of the donut, he claimed, he would have paid less for it. As Today points out, the item in question costs less than a dollar.

In the end, the "Blueberry Crumb Cake Donut" seems to have gone the way of the Angus Steak, after Dunkin' trimmed its doughnut selection in 2017 down to twenty flavors, says Today.