Walking home from work yesterday I could have cried. There it was. Three blocks off in the distance. A little piece of heaven in my new SF backyard!
A Dunkin Donuts on Columbus!
When did this happen?!? How did I not notice the construction crews before?!?
I immediately started rehearsing my order in my head: one small regular coffee – no sugar, and a chocolate glazed donut. OK, fine, make it two.
I could almost taste the buttery sweet ball of fried chocolate when it hit me. I was looking at the sign for the auto repair shop. There was no Dunkin Donuts. Not one for at least 2,000 miles. Now, I’m not sure how I confused the bright orange and pink signs of Dunkin Donuts with the black and white mechanic shop sign – but somewhere deep in my brain the two were connected and some overly eager little neuron tragically misfired.
I can’t recall the last time I emotionally downshifted that fast.
However, strangely enough, the last time I was that excited about food was my senior year in college when a Krispy Kreme donut shop opened two miles from my house. I actually did cry that day. For about a week I was overwhelmed with happiness. For about a week me and the rest of the Northshore binged on Krispy Kremes. Newspapers ran stories questioning whether Dunkin Donuts was doomed.
I dragged my roommates on midnight treks just so I could buy one of the sprinkled variety. This occurred for about two weeks until I got sick and forgot about them. The branch closed less than a year later. No one was sad to see them go.
Maybe subconsciously I felt guilty for abandoning Dunkins so quickly. Or maybe it was because they just never quite measured up. Sure, they are served hot. But so what? That’s why we have microwaves. Plus, they are so sickeningly sweet that if you have even two of the miniature glazed you feel sick for the rest of the day.
While I write this I am actually feeling disturbed that I get that excited over fried pieces of dough covered in sugar. Nevertheless, the prospect of having a Dunkin Donuts open near my house would be magical to say the least.
(I did a quick search of Dunkin Donuts locations and the last shop on the west coast appears to have closed in March. The shop was located in South Salem, Oregon, according to an article in the Oregonian. I didn’t even realize they had made it out here in the first place. Sure, there rumors and speculation from people I encountered over the years who say they remember seeing one somewhere, sometime. But in a state the size of the entire eastern seaboard – that really doesn’t help.)
Now, I know there is better coffee available in SF. But for me, it’s not about the coffee. It’s about the service. (And the donuts.)
I love the fact that when I order a small regular at any Dunkin Donuts I will get a small coffee with exactly two teaspoons of sugar and two splashes of cream. I love that a small regular light means there will be one extra splash of cream. It’s a common language. There is no confusion. And they do it for you! There is no haggling for the cream while waiting to prepare your coffee at a too small table covered in sugar crystals and coffee stains.
I realize that the donuts are often stale if you get them mid-day or during the dinner hour. I do. However, grab a fresh one and then talk to me.
But for some reason in California – the land of fast food restaurants and box store chains – the state has rejected adopting the signature pink and orange franchise. Instead, there remain a plethora of shops teeming with homemade donuts.
In a way, I like that. I can respect supporting mom and pop shops. Many a night I have found myself at Bob’s on Polk Street wondering what happened to my will power.
Logically, at mom and pop shops they should have better service, better food. I should forget about the chocolate glazed from Dunkins and move on. Perhaps it’s because they remind me of Boston. Or maybe I have really bad taste in junk food. But 3 million people a day can’t be wrong right?
So, I’m going to hold out hope that maybe, one day, I will be walking to my apartment and spot the obnoxious pink and orange sign – for real – and finally feel at home.