My dear grandfather (God rest his soul) loved nothing more than being surrounded by buxom-if-blowsy waitresses with names like “Lurlene” and “Brenda-Bob” in that creme-filled cholesterol-boosting wonderland known as Dunkin’ Donuts. During visits to my grandparents’ Florida retirement home, I opted to humor old Gramp, especially after his third heart attack, and tag along to attend his version of High Mass every Sunday afternoon, where the acrid smell of watery, metallic-tasting coffee mingled in an almost mystical symbiosis with the grunts of truckers as they wolfed-down heaps of Pure Corn Syrup-Glazed NUTRITION! Gramp enjoyed the Dunkin’ Donuts atmosphere and ambience while I enjoyed the fact that he wanted to include me on these relatively pointless Old Man Expeditions. As I recall, the donuts were not bad, even if they were served-up on Sunday mornings by haggard women still reeling from Saturday night’s Jim Beam and Bacardi Extravaganzas — women who could heat the coffee pots with nothing more than the searing flame-breath of their leftover halitosis in the event of a power-failure. Dunkin’s products had nothing on Crispy Creme’s delectables, as I would discover not long after moving to California, but it was not a grievous cultural shock. It was not as jolting as, say, the discovery of In & Out Burger after a lifetime of believing that Wendy’s was the apex of bun-clad beef-patty mastication. That’s when one really begins to harbor a resentment toward various childhood deprivations. Anyhow, Dunkin’ Donuts were edible treats and even a debilitated fellow like Gramp could crumble one up after drooling over it for a minute, or dipping it in his industrial strength paint-peeling java, which always steamed from cups that appeared to be made of toilet bowl ceramic. Gramp never, ever needed to take sharp objects to his donuts. Not to my knowledge. Not like this disillusioned but resourceful consumer of indelibly American baked goods.
I guess they just don’t mass-produce mediocrity like they used to. Maybe that’s an encouraging sign.