Taking one sweet step on the career path
Dunkin' Donuts was 15 years old in 1964, and had opened its 100th store the year before, all on the East Coast. So the one on Wantagh Avenue in Wantagh, New York might have been the 129th, sparkling new and welcoming with its orange and hot pink logo. And in 1964, its slogan read "America's Favorite Donut and Coffee Shop," eons before Krispy Kreme and Starbucks.
Over the summer of that year Dunkin' Donuts was my place of employment; I was a donut dunker. I chose to work there after college because it was close to home, not intellectually challenging and I could idle away my days off as a sun goddess on nearby Jones Beach.
It proved to be heaven-sent and ideal. I saved every nickel, dime and quarter from tips made working the counter, stashing them into a sturdy envelope to surprise my parents with a Boston rocker as a thank you for sending me to college.
The most fun was in the back area after the baker left for the day. Under precise orders I would dunk donuts in a vat of sugary sludge and set them on a rack until the glaze settled and dried. Raised donuts were treated differently. I hand rolled them in powdered sugar, long before gloves and hair nets were obligatory. And for Bismarks, let's just say I shunned the rule of squirting only two pumps of red jams and secretly pumped four. They were plump and delicious, and made costumers very happy. When I worked the front counter, pouring coffee and wiping down surfaces, I looked forward to the daily visits of the preppy Good Humor boy who I hoped would ask for my phone number. But the only man interested in me was married, shocking me when I learned what his intentions were.
The New York World's Fair launched in the spring of 1964. My family hosted many friends and family members for two successive summers. One Dunkin' Donut perk was that every night we were allowed to take home one dozen donuts, and I made sure to bring my favorite — a custom made raised chocolate one, double dipped in that sugary sludge, generously rolled in a tub of coconut, then chilled.
Today, 50 years later, the jelly-filled and the old fashioned are still best sellers, but along with 50 other varieties. My chocolate one now comes with a choice of toasted or angel flake coconut. Others are Fancies (apple fritter or oatmeal raising cookies), Munchkins (donut holes) and Sticks (jelly or glazed eclairs).
Dunkin' Donuts has grown far beyond the 129th store on Wantagh Avenue on Long Island. It now boasts 12,000 restaurants in 36 countries including Pakistan.
Surprisingly my sweet tooth has diminished and today I shun donuts. But I bet if you bought me a double dipped chocolate rolled in plain coconut I would force myself to eat it.
And by the way, that Boston rocker still sits in the family room.
Pat Perkins is a member of the Jottings group at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.
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