We’re unabashed fans of Dunkin’ Donuts here at The Takeout, especially its coffee, but we must take issue with its marketing team for perpetuating a disturbing trend we’ve noticed of late.
It has to do with Dunkin’ testing a new menu item at its Boston-area locations called Donut Fries. These appear to be cinnamon and sugar-dusted doughnut sticks (aren’t these just churros?) and reception has generally been positive.
But the issue isn’t so much the existence of the product—yes, we’d totally hit Donut Fries—it’s more the idea that any stick-shaped food item should be branded as fries. I can momentarily wear my marketing hat and think: “Well gee that’s novel and clever.” But the sensible food consumer in me finds it troubling that Americans require familiar reference points because we’re afraid to try a new concept. It boiling down slightly complex topics into rudimentary terms we understand—“Little Susie, don’t think of this as Oaxacan mole, it’s chicken chocolate dip!” Here’s a hot take: It’s reductive and condescending.
Just because it’s stick-shaped and served in a paper sleeve shouldn’t make it fries. Burger King’s Chicken Fries, added to BK’s permanent menu in March 2015, was the catalyst for this everything’s-a-fries movement. Bitchin’ Kitchen offers a recipe called Calamari Fries, which has received a lowly 2.6 rating from recipe testers. There’s also something called Pork Fries, which according to this Smithfield recipe, should be three inches in length with a 1/4 to 1/2-inch diameter. Most French fries simply aren’t that thick, and even if they are, they’re steak fries and steak fries suck. May we suggest these R&D teams borrow a term from the children’s fish snack world and call these by the more anatomically accurate term: fingers.
Think about it, Dunkin’: Donut Fingers! Tell me that doesn’t sounds more appetizing.