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Thinkin' 'Bout Dunkin'

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It's been a week, and I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about the new DDSmart menu at Dunkin' Donuts. For those of you who aren't familiar with the chain, think of Starbucks for average folks. It has a funky pink, orange and brown color scheme, great coffee and the best glazed chocolate donuts around. Don't ever — ever — try to take one away from me.

ddglazed.jpgThis week the chain (which has grown the past few years far beyond its Northeast/New England stronghold) announced its first-ever menu of better-for-you foods and beverages. It includes new egg white sandwiches, as well as existing items that were moved under the DDSmart umbrella, such as unsweetened ice tea, and reduced calorie smoothies.

So, here's my problem: When a donut chain jumps on the health and wellness bandwagon, I begin to fret. Is there nowhere left in the food universe where a consumer can feel unabashedly self-indulgent? Sure, I strive to eat well, exercise and take care of myself. But it's gotten to the point where you can't go anywhere without being reminded to eat well, exercise and take care of yourself.

I go to places like Dunkin' Donuts to get away from health and wellness, as a guilty pleasure and a reward for all my good living and conscientious consuming. And I'll continue to be a customer. But I know how this works. The DDSmart signs are going to be shouting at me from the window and the service counter. For this consumer, glazed chocolate donuts are going to start being more about guilt, and less about pleasure.

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