Mat Schaffer writes in the Boston Herald that it may only take a few minutes to grab a flatbread sandwich from Dunkin’ Donuts or a soft-serve cone at Baskin-Robbins. But it takes months of tasting and testing before such items become available to the public.
Ask Stan Frankenthaler. Hub foodies remember him from behind the stove at Salamander, the Blue Room and Jasper’s. Since 2005, he’s been director of culinary research and development/executive chef for Dunkin’ Brands.
Frankenthaler oversees a 10,000-square-foot lab with 12 working kitchens at Dunkin’s Canton headquarters. He heads up an 18-person culinary team, divided into four groups: beverages, savory, baking and ice cream.
“I’ve got chefs, food scientists, School of Hard Knocks bakers and people who have dual degrees in culinary and marketing,” he said. “We created the flatbread sandwiches, the egg white (omelet), we did a lot of the DDSmart items – took all the flavored cream cheeses to reduced fat, created the multigrain bagel. We did smoothies, we did Trop(icana Orange) Coolatta.”
On the Baskin-Robbins side, Frankenthaler introduced soft-serve ice cream, “Magic Sprinkles” that turn a different color when you lick them and new flavors like Oreo Outrageous.
“It’s essentially a deconstructed Oreo cookie expressed in ice cream,” he explained. “The cocoa ice cream is the wafer of the cookie and the swirl or ribbon is the cream center.”
Frankenthaler also supervised the removal of trans fats from all Dunkin’ Brands products.
Behind a padlocked partition in the lab, members of the culinary team develop menu items that may or may not appear in your local Dunkin’ Donuts or Baskin-Robbins.
“We tinker with it and tinker with it until we get it just right,” Frankenthaler said. “And then we have to put some science into it so that we can repeat that in the 7,000 stores. What’s the Brix (the dissolved sugar-to-water mass ratio of a liquid)? What’re the total dissolve solids? What are all these different attributes that you can then take to turn a recipe into a formula?”
“If we can get you to pause for just one second and say, ‘Wow, that tastes great!,’ we’ve really done what we set out to do.”