How Dunkin' Munchkins Really Get Their Shape

Dunkin' Munchkins -  those bite-size, light as air, sugary donut orbs – might taste like a childhood memory or a sweet dose of history. According to the Dunkin' website, these donut holes were introduced in the early 1970s. But, it might surprise you to learn that they almost weren't called Munchkins. Flummoxing, we know. What else could they possibly be called? Per WBUR, retired Dunkin CEO Bob Rosenberg penned a book in 2020 and shared their ad agency came up with the name "penny poppers;" however, knowing that the price point wouldn't hold forever, they nixed this suggestion and went with another that was a nod to the classic movie, "The Wizard of Oz." Boston Magazine shares the name "Munchkins" was already trademarked. Still, Dunkin' was able to gain rights to use it for just $1 a year. 

But regardless of how Dunkin' Munchkins got their name, a donut hole by any other name would not be the same. Munchkin donut holes' sole purpose is to please taste buds and make money. In addition to the glazed, glazed chocolate, jelly, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and blueberry glaze selection you can find at most Dunkin's, they also like to surprise us with seasonal flavors to delight our childish palates. Red velvet, anyone? Rosenberg went on to reveal Dunkin' sells approximately 1 billion donut holes on an annual basis, making it easy to declare: Munchkins are wildly popular. But have you ever wondered how these much-loved donut holes get their shape?

They use an automated cutter

The round shape of Munchkin donut hole treats is one of life's mysteries that has kept us up at night. Luckily, Dunkin' has pulled back the curtain and explained how it creates these snackable donuts. Dunkin's news site explains that these cake and yeast donut holes came into existence as a way to ensure the cut-out centers didn't go to waste. Per Boston Magazine it was actually the wife of franchisee owner Robert Demery who came up with the idea. 

Edna Demery explained, "I was in the kitchen watching the baker, and I just thought of taking the center of the doughnut and throwing it in the fryolator ... We started making them for the employees, and then one day I put the plain ones in a little basket for samples. Finally we started selling them." 

How are they so round? The donut holes were a hit, so the donut brand decided to invest in creating donut cutters just for Munchkins donut holes. Today, Dunkin' Munchkins are cut by an automated cutter to create uniformed balls of dough that are fried up and sold to their fans — young and old. But as fast as they are made, is about as fast as some people can eat them. Competitive eater Matt Stonie consumed 155 Munchkins and downed two iced coffees in about six minutes. Amazing as that sounds, we'll stick to eating them slowly.