This article was written by Phin Upham

William Rosenberg started the Open Kettle restaurant in 1948. It was based in Quincy Massachussetts and offered both filled and frosted donuts. It changed its name to Kettle Donuts in 1949, but incorporated in 1950 under the name Dunkin’ Donuts. Rosenberg came up with the idea after he had some experiences selling food to factory and construction workers. He found that his most popular items were doughnuts and coffee, and he quickly spun the concept off into franchises.

All of his work led to the chain opening its 100th franchise in 1963. The company debuted “Munchkins” soon after, which are small pastries that resemble the center of a donut. By 1979, Dunkin had reached over 1,000 restaurants and was growing steadily.

Dunkin’ Donuts had locations established in Japan during the 70s, but eventually had to cut business there. It primarily served Americans from the military, but when bases closed the donut shop found itself out of business.

Dunkin’ Donuts introduced bagels in 1996, and breakfast sandwiches soon followed. Dunkin’s biggest rivals are in the breakfast and fast food space, and include both McDonald’s and Starbucks. To compete, Dunkin’ Donuts has expanded into Canada and adopted its own brand of coffee, which it sells in supermarkets as well as its own shops.

Like Starbucks, the company has a mobile app where customers can pay for their meals ahead of time. It is currently owned by Dunkin’ Brands Inc., which also owns Baskin-Robbins. The company bought out rival Mr. Donut and changed the branding for all of those stores to Dunkin’.

Phin Upham

About the Author: Phin Upham is an investor at a family office/hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media & Technology group. You may contact Phin on his Phin Upham website.