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Kosher Donuts, Now With Bacon

...Which, of course, makes them not kosher anymore, which is what has now happened to two Dunkin Donuts franchises in Potomac and Rockville.

To the great dismay of kosher Marylanders--who recently voted Dunkin Donuts the runner-up in the Best Kosher Bakery in the Washington area category (#1 was Goldberg's Bagels in Rockville)--the local franchisee for DD, Jim Willard, says Dunkin HQ has instructed him that he may no longer modify the corporate menu at his establishments. That means Willard must now stock new menu items, such as DD's breakfast sandwich with sausage, which renders the whole shop unkosher.

Kosher donut lovers have taken to the web with protests, petitions and the like, collecting thousands of signatures from folks who love the donuts and coffee and argue simply that "Jews run on Dunkin'." "The sad fact of life is that we are in the kosher community--we don't get access to the other world very often," Rabbi Binyamin Sanders, director of field operations for the Washington rabbinical authority, told The Forward newspaper. By being able to visit a national chain like Dunkin, "you can feel like part of the rest of the world. You're not so isolated."

Facing pressure from its kosher customers, Dunkin Donuts headquarters has come up with a different line on why the stores in Potomac and Rockville (soon to be joined by another Willard-owned Dunkin in Gaithersburg) are leaving the kosher fold. The company says the decision was based on local demographics and the sense that there would be more sales if the full corporate menu was available here--which is different from Willard's explanation in Washington Jewish Week, which makes it sound as if all kosher Dunkins are going treyf. (Not true, says corporate headquarters: About 40 Dunkin franchises across the country are certified kosher and are not required to carry the full company menu. Similarly, 70 of the 300 or so Krispy Kreme outlets in the country are kosher.)

Indeed, Willard also owns a Dunkin inside the Jewish Community Center in Rockville and that outlet will remain kosher.

So if this is all about the bottom line--will Willard sell more donuts by going nonkosher or by staying kosher?--it comes down to one question: Will more observant Jews vanish from the local donut shops than new customers will be attracted by the new menu items? Willard told the Forward that some of his non-Jewish customers are perplexed to find that some of the company's advertised menu items aren't available: "They say, 'You put this on TV, and now you don't have it?' They're disappointed and upset."

On the various kosher message boards, the divide is between those who figure that "We shouldn't be eating that dreck anyhow," and those who respond that "so long as some Jew likes DD's spongy bagels or sour coffee, we should stick up for his ability to get it kosher."

But in increasingly diverse Montgomery County, this is a matter of a franchise operation deciding whether to cater to a small but avid fan base or to reach out to a broader community. By keeping the Rockville location kosher and changing the others to offer sausage and the works, Willard and the parent company are trying to weave a middle course, even if some kosher folks will now have to move their morning routines to Krispy Kreme, whose Rockville store remains kosher (as do its Dupont Circle and Alexandria outlets.)

It's sad that Dunkin turns out to be dividing folks in this case; up in New York, there's a Dunkin Donuts joint that maintained kosher status, attracted a large Orthodox Jewish crowd and was owned by a Pakistani in a neighborhood of Muslims and Jews. Things got a bit ugly after a recent incident, but things seem to have settled back down and the donut shop remains a place where folks can all get fat together. This is key.


By Marc Fisher |  March 14, 2007; 7:12 AM ET
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Comments

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This doesn't address the fact that the Dunkin Donuts in this area serve tiny, stale versions of the donuts, bagels, and muffins carried in New England. At one point DD headquarters was going to strip all of the local franchises of their rights, given the horrible job they have done with the product. Wonder why that never happened.

Posted by: New England Dunkin | March 14, 2007 9:07 AM

I had no idea this battle was even being waged. We definitely had sausage egg and cheese bagels on the menu at Syracuse during my undergrad, and its not like there aren't any jewish students at 'Cuse.

I used to order those things every day. In retrospect, I'm surprised I'm not morbidly obese after my college Dunken Donuts diet.

Posted by: Chris L | March 14, 2007 9:12 AM

A DD recently opened on Barracks Row, opposite a Starbucks. Talk about your Culture Wars.

The DD doesn't have a bakery. Donuts are delivered four times a day. No sense asking about hot donuts unless you like them microwaved.

Posted by: Mike | March 14, 2007 9:19 AM

I love it how they call it "menu modifications" like Willard is changing the recipe on some things. I believe corporate should be able to say you can't change the recipe - to maintain homogeneity at the outlets. But to say you HAVE to offer EVERY item is bogus. I'm sure the DDs in the South offer "sweet tea" - something that probably won't sell in the North.

The market (and store operator) should determine which items are available for sale. Corporate should only be saying here is the recipe you MUST use for each item to maintain quality. If Willard looses sales since he doesn't offer sausage, who gets hurt - Willard's pocket.

I say boycott DD - we'll all be healthier for it.

Posted by: Rob | March 14, 2007 9:21 AM

Forgive my ignorance because I truly don't know the answer to this question. Jewish people can't order doughnuts at DD because non kosher foods are being served in the restuarant?

Are Willard's stores meeting their franchise agreement targets? That's the real question. If not then I understand DD's decision. Franchise agreements are pretty onerous. I'm surprised he got this level of autonomy whether he was racking in the dough or not.

Posted by: Juan | March 14, 2007 9:37 AM

Who knew that DD produced Kosher donuts? Marc, I learn so much from you. Now I miss the chance to buy Kosher donuts but I'm equally concerned about something I just read in the Post American Idol column today. Pronunciate is not a word?
What next?

Posted by: me | March 14, 2007 9:41 AM

Juan, kosher food cannot touch anything that non-kosher food has touched. having bacon in the same area is ""unholy".

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 9:51 AM

Hot Krispy Kremes are better than carted in Dunkin Doughnuts any day.

Posted by: MB | March 14, 2007 9:51 AM

The Board of Guardians of British Jews has been asking McDonald's to halt TV commercials showing non-kosher bagel sandwiches, those with pork products or combining meat and cheese.

In my favorite quote, Board President Harry Greenberg says this shows "total disrespect for the Jewish community and also for the bagel."

See http://www.theboard.org.uk/index.php?p=63

Posted by: Mike Licht | March 14, 2007 9:52 AM

I was not aware a donut shop could be kosher. What if Jaun Valdez eats a Bacon/egg sandwich while picking the coffee beans. Still Kosher?

Posted by: SoMD | March 14, 2007 10:21 AM

I was not aware a DD shop could be declared kosher. What if Juan Valdez is eating a bacon/egg sandwich while picking the coffee beans. Is the DD shop still kosher?

Posted by: SoMD | March 14, 2007 10:23 AM

Sorry about the multiple posts ... got an error on the first one, tried again, did a refresh and both posts showed up.

I just luv Microstuff products.

Posted by: SoMD | March 14, 2007 10:24 AM

I find it pretty amusing that a chain from one of the most backward states in the nation (KK) appears to make it easier for its franchisees to keep kosher than a chain from one of the allegedly most enlightened states (DD).

Posted by: Yankee in Virginia | March 14, 2007 10:52 AM

If the food is Kosher, then it's also Halal, which may be a consideration just as important in this metro area.

Posted by: Matvey | March 14, 2007 11:09 AM

"Yankee in Virginia", have you ever been to Winston-Salem or lived in NC?

There are thriving Jewish communities throughout the state, and it's hardly "one of the most backward states in the nation".

Don't be rude. It's unbecoming.

Posted by: from Winston | March 14, 2007 11:17 AM

Winston: Your defensive response indicates that I might have struck a nerve.

Your state has the best barbecue in the country, and you might have some "thriving Jewish communities," but come on, when the subject of keeping kosher comes up, North Carolina does not exactly rush to the forefront.

In fact, let me provide you with some concrete information. Your excellent supermarket chain, Harris-Teeter, has come to northern Virginia and is now my regular grocery store. But last spring, when I went looking for the Passover section (something that is easy to find at Giant or Safeway), didn't find one, and then inquired at the courtesy desk, the employees looked at me like I had horns in my head.

Posted by: Yankee in Virginia | March 14, 2007 11:47 AM

me -- Pronunciate is not a word. It's enunciate.

Posted by: lnsmith | March 14, 2007 11:55 AM

As with my opinion of all things religious, they can take their Torah's and shove them right up their kosher sphincters. Who are they to impose their religious requirements on anyone else?

Posted by: James Buchanan | March 14, 2007 12:07 PM

Thanks Insmith... Its just I've been enunciating pronunicate my entire life and its shocking that I didn't know the error of my ways. The Post abused Diana Ross for not knowing that it wasn't a word. It could have been me. Horror.
Its much like not knowing about kosher donuts at Dunkin Donuts and now they're gone. It's just the wonder of all those things we don't know...

Posted by: me | March 14, 2007 12:14 PM

James Buchanan - No one is imposing any religious requirements on anyone. All the Kosher keeping Jewish community (and in this case the religious Moslem community) is trying to do is ask for a chance to eat unhealthy (if delicious) food.

To those putting down NC - It is certainly not among the "most backward" of states, unless you are counting...say, the 25 most backward. I lived in NC for 11 years, found the Jewish community actively involved and thriving. Finding kosher food was seldom a problem. Lack of a Passover section in the H/T in Va may be more of a VA problem. BTW, I'm not sure who owns H/T, but let's remember that, like "our local" Giant, Food Lion (them local boys from Gastonia, NC) is owned by a European conglomerate.

BTW, I can still remember having clerks say to me that I was the first Jew that they had ever met.

Posted by: mikes | March 14, 2007 12:20 PM

And back in the kitchen everyone is Hispanic-Catholic. Who knew a donut shop could turn into an interfaith forum ??

Posted by: gitarre | March 14, 2007 12:34 PM

I guess the next blog will be about rye bread.

Posted by: Reuban | March 14, 2007 12:52 PM

mikes: I'm curious. How did clerks know you're jewish?

Posted by: Yankee in Virginia | March 14, 2007 1:01 PM

Krispy Kremes are far superior doughnuts and bagels are girl food.

Posted by: Who cares about New England? | March 14, 2007 1:14 PM

"BTW, I can still remember having clerks say to me that I was the first Jew that they had ever met."

Back in high school, two friends of mine (on Orthodox, one Conservative) went to the MVA up in Germantown. The Conservative one was wearing his yarmulke but the Orthodox one wasn't (go figure). After the Conservative one went to stand in line, another customer came up to the Orthodox one and said "What's that think on his head?" "It's a yarmulke." "What's that for?" "Well, is because his a religious Jew." "Dang, I ain't never been that close to one before." Little did he know, he was talking to one. :)

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 1:17 PM

Boring.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 1:21 PM

Although I agree that the versions down here are poor substitutes for the real thing, a properly made Dunkin Donuts Boston Creme Donut may be one of the perfect foods, along with foie gras, a good steak, and bacon-wrapped shrimp. KKs are tasty, but not in the same ballpark.

Posted by: DD v. KK | March 14, 2007 1:52 PM

"Winston: Your defensive response indicates that I might have struck a nerve."

Flame wars are for pimpled teenage netboys. I would have thought readers of the post could have discussions like adults.

Posted by: Chris L | March 14, 2007 2:02 PM

So what was the number one Kosher Bakery in Montgomery County?

Also, I went to an Asian bakery in New York and bought a dozen of the most beautiful pasteries I had ever seen only to discover that they had absolutely no taste. They were like gorgeous paper tasting desserts. How can Asian food be so generally great and the desserts be so bad?? No wonder there is less obesity in Asia.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 2:26 PM

Breads Unlimited Bakery on Arlington Road in Bethesda is wonderful with great, wholesome, mom's cooking, pastries and cakes. We've been going there for years and I only just noticed that they had a sign that they were kosher. Dump Dunkin and quit Krispy and head to Bethesda for the good stuff. Just don't go on Saturdays and make the line any longer than it already is.

Posted by: me | March 14, 2007 2:37 PM

Chris L: This is a discussion about donuts, not US foreign policy. Lighten up.

Posted by: Yankee in Virginia | March 14, 2007 2:45 PM

Asian sweets and pasteries are often made with bean paste for filling. It doesn't make for the best tasting treats.

Chris L, you fussiness comes off as rather immature.

Posted by: WB | March 14, 2007 2:45 PM

I am neither teenaged nor pimpled nor a netboy.

But I am Jewish, and I've bought plenty of Passover food at Harris Teeter in NC. It was actually one of the places with the best selection and prices.

Definitely not a corporate-level thing.

Posted by: from Winston | March 14, 2007 2:51 PM

Asian bakies also tend to use less sugar. Pastries in Japan just don't taste the same as their US counterparts. BTW, you can also taste the difference between the same brands of chocolate bars in different parts of the world. New Zealand Cadbury bars rule!

Posted by: WA2CHI | March 14, 2007 2:57 PM

I've found asian pastries to be excellent, but they are likely to have a savory filling as a sweet filling. Maxims and the other store around the corner (Kam Sam?) in Rockville have ecellent selections--probably not kosher.

Posted by: Chris | March 14, 2007 3:21 PM

I often look at the Kosher section of the Giant sales flier I shudder as I see the selections. Give me a bacon omlette any day!

Posted by: Mmmm, bacon... | March 14, 2007 3:30 PM

I often look at the Kosher section of the Giant sales flier I shudder as I see the selections. Give me a bacon omlette any day!

Posted by: Mmmm, bacon... | March 14, 2007 3:30 PM

Typical Fisher argument that the minority subject the majority to the rules of the minority. In other words Fisher is advocating all non Jews should have their menu choices limited to kosher food choices only so Jews can eat there too. What about my needs? I should be forced to search for another establishment that doesn't infringe upon my choices? If you choose to follow a religious order then you make sacrifices. There are consequences for living a spiritual live. There are consequences for every decision you make in life. Aparently I'm to bear the responsiblity and the consequences so people who follow Kosher rules can shop at DD. This liberal PC BS will be the downfall of this nation.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 3:34 PM

Why did that post twice? I only hit the submit button once.

Posted by: Homer | March 14, 2007 3:39 PM

To those who are complaining about DD corporate forcing them to serve the entire menu - you really should read the entire article before posting.

Posted by: klm | March 14, 2007 3:40 PM

The Board of Guardians of British Jews quote about bagels and pig meat came from a satire site. Let's not lose our sense of humor.

Posted by: Joy | March 14, 2007 3:49 PM

To the anon poster a 3:34pm, you must be the most ignorant person in the room.

This is NOT about a minority forcing its will on the majority. Nobody is saying bacon-lovers can't eat bacon. It's about a man who owns some DDs being forced to alter what he wants to sell at his store. Should a vegan restaurant be forced to sell meat since a majority of people eat meat? Nobody is infringing on your "rights".

Nobody is forcing DDs to maintain a completely Kosher menu.

Please, find somebody and ask them to slap some sense into you.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 14, 2007 4:49 PM

Dunkin Doughnuts is a corporation with business rules and and franchise owner must abide by those rules. That's the way it is. Instead of bashing Dunkin Doughnuts, why can't the Kosher folks start their own enterprise of doughnuts, bagels, and other kosher "goodies"
and create a national chain? Or is it too easy to chastise other for not doing it?

Posted by: Light Bulb | March 14, 2007 8:08 PM

Well, Dunkin Doughnuts could divide their stores in half and have a kosher side and a non-kosher side. Then you could have the left drive-thru and the right drive-thru.

Posted by: Oops | March 14, 2007 8:15 PM

Joy: Thanks for the head-up on The Board of Guardians -- a satire on The Board of Deputies of British Jews (founded 1760). An effective spoof, widely quoted.

How about China Daily (citing Yedioth Ahronoth), March 14, 2006:

Mickey D's changed it's colors from yellow and red to blue and white, with the McDonald's name in Hebrew and the word "kosher" alongside, to distinguish the two branches in Tel Aviv with Kosher certificates.

Yisrael Meir Lau, chief rabbi of Tel Aviv: "When I assumed my position 10 months ago and I had to sign kashrut certificates for two (McDonald's) restaurants in Tel Aviv, I refused because my conscience wouldn't let me," he told the Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth. "I was mainly concerned that tourists or adolescents who visit one kosher branch may jump to the conclusion that all McDonald's branches in Israel are kosher."

There's the answer for DD.


Posted by: Mike Licht | March 14, 2007 11:52 PM

I'm not sure if the blue/white signage is true but it is NOT mentioned on McDonald's website.

http://www.mcdonalds.com/countries/israel.html

Posted by: Anonymous | March 15, 2007 7:18 AM

Are Dippin Dots kosher?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 16, 2007 8:07 PM

hey folks
in the jewish religion you cant use utensils or machines that were used for non osher items on kosher items. so for example a microwave used for Bacon cant be used now for kosher purposes. the same holds true for pots/pans etc..
additionally for an item to be kosher there has to be daily supervision on the premises- a kosher supervisor will not work on the premises (forbidden) if tehre are non kosher items served

Posted by: joseph | March 19, 2007 9:30 AM

The Dunkin 'Donuts' and other products they sell are unhealthy and artery clogging. High in saturated fat and full of sugar. It's a service to the community if they stop offering kosher. If you insist on eating junk food, there are plenty of other places available that supply them.

Posted by: Dave in NY | March 19, 2007 10:23 AM

A correction/clarification -- The #1 Kosher Bakery in Washington DC area is "Goldberg's Bagel's/Confections by Sue." Goldberg's does phenomenal NY Bagels. Sue does astounding Kosher cakes, muffins, rugelach, cookies, bobka, but alas, no doughnuts. Suggest you get your fix of Kosher desserts there, not far from the two DD stores in the article. Note -- these items are pareve -- meaning non-dairy.

Posted by: Foodfan | March 19, 2007 5:44 PM

DD CEO John Luther should be fired. That said...
Harris Teeter in Norfolk has a large selection of kosher food including Passover Goods.

JW in NJ

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