Christopher Borrelli, a columnist for The Chicago Tribune salutes Dunkin’ Donuts at 60 years:

An illustration of a Dunkin' Donuts sign on Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks" painting. (Courtesy of The Art Institue of Chicago)

The other night I sat in a Dunkin’ Donuts and watched the world push through and buy dollhouse-shaped boxes of Munchkins and mortar-shell-size coffees. I watched old men rest on padded stools at the counter and a father come in with his kids and buy a dozen green-sprinkled doughnuts for St. Patrick’s Day. I took notes and I ate an unadorned Old Fashioned Cake Donut and sipped an iced coffee (which seems to come in Sugary, Too Sugary and Delectably Diabetic) and I considered why a doughnut shop that refuses to spell “doughnut” correctly has hung on for decades. Dunkin’ Donuts just turned 60. But you probably didn’t know because you probably take Dunkin’ Donuts for granted.

As did I, once.

Until a couple of years ago, when I headed back to my hometown of Providence, R.I., and ran across this wonderful headline in the Providence Journal: “Midget racing at the Dunk this weekend.”

Allow me to translate. Midget racing is a “sport” that involves small cars moving at high speeds along short tracks. It rarely involves physically diminutive people. The Dunk is the nickname of the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, and so entrenched is Dunkin’ Donuts in New England — and particularly my hometown, which claims both the most Catholics and most Dunkin’ Donuts per capita of any city in the U.S. — that Dunkin’ won naming rights to the Providence Civic Center, where I saw Rush twice and Springsteen three times and the Clash once. The arena is outfitted with Dunkin’s signature post- World War II-pre-Reagan-era pinks and oranges, its bulbous arena architecture a pleasant match with the plump lettering and obscenely sunny Carter-era Dunkin’ Donuts logo design.

It made me nostalgic, because Dunkin’ Donuts has become the ’70s AM radio of the fast-food world: cheap and forgiving.

Growing up, I had thought of Dunkin’ Donuts as gaudy and garish when I thought of it at all, a constant that always was and always would be — the plastic sheen of its atmosphere not so much warm as it was a ubiquitous reminder of the frosting on its pastries, which came in colors that did not occur in nature. Growing up (and maybe a bit still), I thought of Dunkin’ Donuts as New England’s bathroom — because there was always a Dunkin’ within blocks of where I was, no matter where I was, an easy, guilt-free, sorta public restroom always around the corner. In the winter, it was a place to wait out a snow squall, and in summer, when leaving the beach, it was a place to clean the sand from your toes and change out of swim trunks.

Read More at: The Chicago Tribune