There are few things these days that scream "Boston" more than Dunkin', Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Tom Brady. Well, those latter three famous humans came together for the brand to form the DunKings (get it?) in a very splashy, vibrant orange, and pretty-in-pink ad that aired during Super Bowl LVIII. The spot not only dropped "mad" rhymes, flashy threads, and dismay from J-Lo and Fat Joe but also introduced a limited-time-only menu featuring a signature drink, complete with the option for a doughy Munchkins garnish. Not highlighted in the ad, but available through ordering on Dunkin's mobile app, are three additional drinks and a breakfast sandwich hoping to brighten anyone's day, afternoon, or night.
In a press release regarding the DunKings Menu, Jill McVicar Nelson, chief marketing officer at Dunkin', said, "You can chase your dreams, aim high, and have a laugh while doing it all as part of the Dunkin' family. Dunkin' fuels your passions, no matter how ambitious or out there they may seem." So, are these DunKings offerings a slam-dunk dream come true, or do they lack passion and ambition? I shook off my Super Bowl morning bleariness and headed over to my local Dunkin' to see what all the fuss was about, and how a trio of Munchkins on a skewer plays into it. The following is a ranking of the new menu items, from worst to best, based on taste and overall lovability -- you can read more about my ranking criteria at the end of the article.
5. Hazelnut Heartthrob Iced Coffee
A tall, clear cup of mocha-tinted iced coffee stands before me, replete with a pile of ice keeping things nice and cool. The Hazelnut Heartthrob Iced Coffee is an app-only DunKings Menu item, and I could quickly see why it's not one open for anyone to order by just walking into a Dunkin' location. It didn't have much of an aroma to it and, when I got around to sipping it, not much of a taste to toast to.
The drink contains Dunkin's original blend of iced coffee, and a medium size includes three splashes of whole milk and three squirts each of unsweetened hazelnut flavoring and sweetened caramel flavoring. Even with all that flavoring pumped into this iced coffee, none of it seems to land in tasting. Maybe the blend of iced coffee has too dominant of a taste on its own, or it all just got lost in icy translation.
This is pretty much just a standard iced coffee drink that doesn't make much of a splash. Not so much a heartbreaker, but it's certainly no heartthrob.
4. Everything Encore Breakfast Sandwich
The Everything Encore Breakfast Sandwich is another app-only DunKings item and, like its partner the Hazelnut Heartthrob Iced Coffee, isn't exactly fit for a king. Granted, it's a totally adequate and edible sandwich -- just nothing particularly special.
The photo of this breakfast sammy in the app looks like a turtle, its body a well-seeded everything bagel and its head and legs made of crisscrossed bacon. In actuality, the bagel was severely lacking in seeds and seasonings, and the bacon was nearly hidden from view. Prying open the body of this lightly toasted sandwich reveals a mostly white oval of an egg, with splashes of yolk yellow on one half. The other half of the bagel housed at least four pieces of oddly pink, mushy sweet black pepper bacon encased in a once melted, now flimsy slice of white cheddar cheese.
I had no problem finishing this item off, as I needed a palate cleanser between the four drinks I was taste-testing, but each bite wasn't really inspiring that much excitement for more. It lacked crunch, from both the bagel and the bacon aspects, and even with some seasoning adorning the top, something was desperately needed to further spice it up. If for some reason I needed to call an encore for another one of these breakfast sandwiches, I might have to bring my own bottle of Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel Sesame Seasoning with me.
3. DunKings Iced Coffee
Where the Hazelnut Heartthrob Iced Coffee proved to be kind of a snooze fest, the drink headlining this whole DunKings campaign turned out to be a bit of a shining star, like the Hollywood hunk who apparently inspired its creation. DunKings Iced Coffee is supposed to be Ben Affleck's go-to order, but as he revealed to People, he takes his Dunkin' drinks pretty simple: "iced coffee, milk and two sugars, sometimes Splenda."
Well, we all enjoy an occasional drink treat, and on some occasions outside the hours of breakfast, I can see the DunKings Iced Coffee being well worth indulging in. This one also starts with Dunkin's original blend of iced coffee, and my medium cup was infused with three shakes of cream and three squirts each of unsweetened vanilla flavoring and sweetened French vanilla flaring before being topped with cinnamon sugar and sweet cold foam.
This drink certainly has a lot going on in it and gets off to a nice refreshing start at the top, where the foam looks a like snow-capped mountain. Sure, the rest of the drink tastes a bit artificial and super-sugary, but it has an undeniable charm to it. Also, out of the four drinks in the DunKings lineup, this one is the perfect home for the DunKings Munchkins Skewer to be dipped in. Let one of the Munchkins ruminate in the liquid for less than a minute, and after popping it into the mouth, it almost acts as a vanilla frosting-like icing to the rounded donut hole's cake base.
2. Mixed Berry Beats Dunkin' Refresher
The most visually appealing member of the DunKings lineup also happened to be the one easiest to digest -- the Mixed Berry Beats Dunkin' Refresher. This app-only offering would look right at home on a tropical beach, with an ombréd pink coloring that seems to get darker as it heads from the top all the way to the bottom of the cup. The only thing that seems missing is a mini-umbrella to clinch the vacation mood.
This refresher starts with a base of green tea and is then flavored with strawberry dragon fruit and an unsweetened raspberry flavoring, swimming in plenty of pieces of crystal-clear ice cubes. At first, the confluence of the tea and the two berry flavors seemed to work against each other, proving to be too much at once. Then, as each subsequent sip proved to be smoother than the one before it, I found myself working my way through the cup rather quickly. It would actually be interesting to try this refresher as a hot tea, too, which is currently not an option.
1. Hazelnut Heartthrob Coffee
How people take their coffee is one of the more subjective choices that can be made in the world of beverages. Creamers, sweeteners, and temperature are just some of the myriad options, but many a happy sip for any kind of drinker can be found in a cup of the app-only Hazelnut Heartthrob Coffee.
Somehow, this concoction didn't work as an iced coffee, but when served up hot, the flavorings truly came alive. Like its iced sister, the Hazelnut Heartthrob Coffee is decked out with whole milk and squirts of unsweetened hazelnut flavoring and sweetened caramel flavoring. This hot take proves those flavors' strengths right away with one strong whiff of this hot coffee. A sip doubly confirms what the aroma was telling me, as this drink hits just the right notes of having a strong flavor, but not one that leaves behind a wicked aftertaste.
After a good 15 minutes passed, and the drink ran lukewarm, I knew it was still a winner, as the hazelnut and caramel combo were still making magical notes with each sip. The only drawback with this drink is that it is not a good fit for the Munchkins Skewer. After soaking up some of its heat, as if it were in a hot tub, the donut turned to mush. As I attempted to lift it out of the cup, it fell back in and made a splashy mess all over the table.
This taste test was conducted at a Manhattan location of Dunkin' where all the DunKings items were available to order. The DunKings Ice Coffee and Munchkins Skewer can be ordered in person, while the other four items can only be ordered on the Dunkin' app. All drinks were ordered as Dunkin's app suggested, medium sized, and with no add-ons thrown into the mix.
The items were tasted in an order based on warmest to coldest and then ranked based on taste, smell, palatability, appropriateness for breakfast time, and overall lovability. The rankings are based on my own opinion, and I alone consumed the items.
The DunKings Menu items are available at participating Dunkin' locations for a limited time only while supplies last. Price and availability may vary by location. Check the Dunkin' app or website for more information and availability.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.