Details You Didn't Know About Honey Dew Donuts

One of New England's favorite coffee and doughnut shops, Honey Dew Donuts, has been on the sugary breakfast scene since 1973. Since the first location, founded by Richard "Dick" J. Bowen, opened in Mansfield, Massachusetts, the business has expanded to a franchise that includes over 150 stores across Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island (via Honey Dew Donuts' website). Today, the shops serve coffee and other specialty drinks, doughnuts, bagels, muffins, breakfast sandwiches, and even mac n' cheese to members of the community who have become loyal customers.

The doughnut menu doesn't skimp on tastiness or creativity, including favorites like Boston creme, chocolate frosted, jelly, and, what Bowen says is their signature product, cinnamon stick (via WPRI on YouTube). The shop offers some more unique options such as Bavarian cream and apple cider as well.

If you take a peek beyond the delicious doughnuts, you'll find there's more to Honey Dew Donuts than meets the eye, which took the franchise from humble beginnings to Miss Universe sightings and major coffee shop rivalries.

Dick Bowen's passion for doughnuts started at a young age

Honey Dew Donuts founder Dick Bowen grew up in the doughnut business. According to Hey Restaurants, his father worked at a shop in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, and as a child, Bowen often went to work with him.

Bowen spoke about this experience in an interview with news network WPRI 12. "I really missed not being able to see my father, so when I got to be about 8 or 9 years old, I really started to bug him that maybe he would take me into the doughnut shop with him at night at work. When I did reach 10 years old, he did let me do that ... I would fry the doughnuts," he recalled.

Bowen was motivated by the shop's owner, who was doing well financially and owned a house with a backyard and a nice car — things Bowen's family did not have. His work ethic inspired Bowen, per WPRI.

When Bowen reached high school, he followed in his father's footsteps, working in various coffee and doughnut shops until he was able to fulfill his dream of owning a shop. He opened the first Honey Dew Donuts in 1973, when a cup of coffee was 20 cents and a doughnut was 10 cents, Bowen told WPRI. Two years later, the business expanded into a franchise. Today, Bowen is president and CEO of Honey Dew Associates, Inc., overseeing executive business and the company's many philanthropic endeavors, but he still loves the community aspect of Honey Dew Donuts' shops.

"I love it when people come into our shops, sit down and relax, and enjoy a cup of coffee ... That's the beauty of coffee shops," he said (via WPRI).

There was a Honey Dew Donuts shop that didn't sell doughnuts

Shortly after the 118,000-square-foot Quincy, Massachusetts, YMCA was built, the organization decided to add a café to the fitness center, which included a Honey Dew Donuts. However, there was something different about this Honey Dew Donuts location than other franchise locations: It didn't sell doughnuts. This lack of sugary goods was because the YMCA wanted to encourage healthy eating habits among its members. "It's definitely tailored to the healthy lifestyle the Y supports," a spokeswoman for the South Shore YMCA, Sara Trubiano, told The Patriot Ledger. All food items served were first approved by the YMCA and the shop did carry low-fat muffins, salads, sandwiches, yogurt, and fruit cups.

Ironically, The Patriot Ledger article goes on to claim that according to Honey Dew Donuts' website, some of the shop's low-fat muffins, which the YMCA shop did carry, have more calories and sugar than many of the doughnuts.

Miss Universe Olivia Culpo appeared in a Honey Dew Donuts' commercial

Model Olivia Culpo, former Miss Rhode Island, Miss USA, and Miss Universe, had her very first commercial shoot in 2012 when she appeared in a TV advertisement for Honey Dew Donuts. Culpo grew up in Cranston, Rhode Island, which today has four Honey Dew Donut shops, and attended Brown University in Providence before winning Miss USA and moving to New York City (via Madifon by Fashion).

"I was really young, and it was just a local commercial, but I remember having so much fun and loving the experience. I also think I got to eat all the donuts I wanted that day — for a kid that is a dream come true!" she told Madifon by Fashion.

Culpo still has ties to Rhode Island and likes to visit friends and family there. Perhaps she even stops by the local Honey Dew Donuts for a coffee and doughnut when she's in town.

Honey Dew Donuts has made a significant commitment to giving back to the community

Each Honey Dew Donuts franchise location has become a significant part of their respective communities, so it only makes sense they'd want to give back. That's why in 2008 Bowen and his six daughters founded the Honey Dew Family Foundation Inc., which "is committed to supporting organizations that encourage healthy behavior, build self-confidence, and promote the health and well-being of children/adolescents and their environments" (via the Honey Dew Family Foundation website). Bowen told WPRI that many of their contributions go to organizations that focus on breast cancer treatment and research, and donations have been made to groups including St. Mary's Women's and Children's Center, the American Cancer Society, and the Susan G. Komen Massachusetts Race for the Cure.

"One of the great things about being in a successful chain is to pay it forward to the community, to the communities that helped you get where you are," Bowen said.

It's not afraid of Dunkin'

One of Honey Dew Donuts' biggest competitors is Dunkin' (formerly known as Dunkin' Donuts). There's a Dunkin' on just about every street corner in New England, but the massive company hasn't scared Bowen off. He said he's not afraid of the competition, nor is Honey Dew Donuts going anywhere anytime soon.

"There's competition out there with this company, without question. And they're big. But competition is really good, and I say that sincerely. It's good for all of us because it keeps us on the ball ... We make sure we don't take our eye off the ball. Quality, cleanliness, and service are the most important factors. I mean this; since day one, that's always been my philosophy. Make sure we maintain that high level of quality, cleanliness, and service, and as long as we continue to do that, we'll be able to withstand the onslaught of competition, which will always be around," Bowen said (via WPRI on YouTube).