This post is part of our Battle of the Brands feature. Let us know which brand you prefer, and check out other Battle of the Brands posts.
Oh, how the sugary have fallen. Ten years ago, even five, you and I both know how this would have come out. In the standoff between longtime national fried-dough pusher Dunkin' Donuts and upstart sweet freak Krispy Kreme Doughnuts (NYSE: KKD), Krispy reigned supreme. The chain was rolling out new franchises as fast as dough circles could parade around its restaurants on shiny metal racks, and each time it did local police stations did overtime directing traffic.
Somehow, the mighty fell after the considerable sugar high, largely connected to poorly-managed finances, badly-handled expansion, and a sudden national fear of carbohydrates. All the while, Dunkin' Donut managers everywhere continued to plod along, making the doughnuts, and quietly stirring a blue-collar breakfast revolution. One day America woke up and realized, hey, Dunkin' Donuts' coffee is good! Someone named it "Better than Starbucks" and it soon became clear that the product guys had realized something: we make a lotta money off of coffee. Actually, more than half of the company's revenue.
Soon Rachael Ray was perkily declaring her love for Dunkin' Donuts (pointedly never eating a doughnut in a commercial), Dunkin' Donuts coffee was available in grocery stores, and Krispy Kreme doughnuts were growing stale in their plastic cases. The company couldn't even find a way to make a trans-fat-free doughnut, let alone win back the enthusiasm America had once felt for the iconic glazed dough circles.
While today it's my belief that more Americans love Dunkin' Donuts than Krispy Kreme, it's interesting to note that it's not because of any superiority in the powdered chocolate creme-filled pastry (oh, how I loved you once upon a time!). No, it's all in the rest of Dunkin' Donuts' menu -- and perhaps its working-class, no-fuss cred -- and it's unlikely Krispy Kreme will ever be so hot and fresh again.
Vote in our poll for Krispy Kreme or Dunkin' Donuts as your preferred brand, and let us know in the comments why you love it.