Dunkin' Used To Be Called Something Totally Different

Nowadays, even though one can make use of a French press, a cappuccino machine, or a single-serve pod in the comfort of their own home, there's something about curating your own Frankenstein's monster of a cuppa that draws us to Starbucks, Peet's, Dunkin', and even Mister Donut — or whatever chain you find down on the corner. And although it seems hard to imagine a time B.S. — that is, Before Starbucks — some of the nation's most popular coffeehouse chains have surprisingly long and little-known histories.

Until September 2018, for example, Dunkin' used to be called Dunkin' Donuts.

Okay, you're right: 2018 wasn't that long ago, and those names aren't that different. Since you're here, you might be interested to know that the coffee shop we now know as Dunkin' has actually gone through multiple name changes since its inception.

Opening the history books (and the kettle)

Soon after returning from duty in World War II, William Rosenberg noticed that there were no quick, casual places in the Boston suburbs to stop and grab a coffee. He took out a loan and started what was likely one of the U.S.' first food trucks, which he called "Industrial Luncheon Services" (via The Travel).

Owing to the immediate enthusiasm of local consumers, in 1948 he decided to set up a more permanent brick-and-mortar location at 543 Southern Artery in Quincy, Massachusetts. Rosenberg renamed his business "Open Kettle" to emphasize that it was a welcoming spot for coffee drinkers. For culinary historians, their first location can still be visited today.

At that time, it was common to see people dunking their donuts in their coffee, just as we might dip our Oreos in milk. According to Dunkin' lore, Rosenberg realized that the bond between coffee and donuts was kismet, and came up with the name "Dunkin' Donuts" in 1950.

In 1955, Dunkin' Donuts' first franchise location opened, and by 1965, they had expanded to more than 100 outlets. Now totaling more than 12,000 shops throughout 45 countries (per Dunkin' Donuts), one might wonder why they would have changed their famous name again in 2018. According to their CEO David Hoffman (via Business Insider), they made the transition for two primary reasons. First, Hoffman noted that simplifying the name to Dunkin' — a name that many of its patrons had already been using — could breathe new energy into their brand. Plus, Dunkin' Donuts wanted to emphasize the coffee ... just as its founder William Rosenberg had first set out to do.