Today at 7 a.m., Dunkin’ Donuts opens the first of 15 planned statewide locations near the Honolulu airport. After a 10-year absence from Hawaii, you might say they’re going do-nuts with this rapid expansion. I’m excited, but not just for yet another donut option to bring to work. Dunkin’s return feels like I’m reuniting with an old friend.
The first Dunkin’ Donuts location sits below the airport viaduct onramp on the corner of Ualena and Paiea streets.
You see, I have two vivid memories that play on repeat anytime someone mentions Dunkin’ Donuts. When I heard that Aloha Petroleum was bringing the coffee and donut chain back to Hawaii, these memories came flooding back.
My first DD memory takes place at the drive-thru of the old Kapahulu Dunkin’ Donuts. I’m about 10 years old. It’s late at night and definitely past my bedtime. My little sister and I are in the back seat as we pull up alongside large signs glowing with images of donuts laid out in a grid.
We ask what the shop still has in stock. The voice from the speaker box lists every donut they have left. Boston cream. French cruller. Strawberry cream with sprinkles. Chocolate old fashioned. The list seems to go on for minutes. It’s overwhelming and fascinating.
I settle on a blueberry jelly donut dusted with powdered sugar. It’s the best donut of my entire 10 years. Remnants of sugar and jelly on my shirt attest to this.
I remembered this when Frolic was invited to the new DD’s blessing and we got a sneak peek before it opened to the public. Complete with a drive-thru window and a serious stash of donuts, this DD is nice!
When I stepped inside, the colors shot me back to another memory, this one a little less innocent. This time I was in Crown Heights, Brooklyn at the DD on Nostrand and Eastern Parkway. It was a few days after my 23rd birthday and I was hungover AF. Honestly, what happened the night before is still a blur. Tequila. Spam musubi. Cake whipped up with a power drill.
Lemme tell you … waking up is not the easiest thing when the room is spinning. But I downed a jug of water and set out for some rescue food for the rest of the poor souls in the apartment. On this rainy, 50-degree Sunday morning, I lined up at DD for a gallon of their signature hot coffee and two dozen assorted donuts. It proved to be the best decision of those blurry 24 hours, for sure.
Dunkin’s coffee is known around the world for its quality and taste. Their brew is so popular, it eclipses DD’s own donut sales and even outpaces Starbucks’ coffee sales – I bet you nevah knew dat! The cold brew I had was a medium roast and was the perfect drink to sip in this muggy weather. I’d go back for it. If you need the hot stuff, an extra large cup of joe will run you $2.79 as well.
The bacon, egg and cheese sandwich promises a double serving of bacon, but it really means two small strips.
This location will carry at least two dozen varieties of donuts in addition to a menu of muffins, bagels, sandwiches and breakfast wraps, all served all day long. Hawaii-only exclusives include Spam and Portuguese sausage wraps, which are $1.99 each. Donuts run $1.19 apiece and a dozen can be had for just $10.99. Boxes of Munchkins, DD’s donut holes, run from $3.09 for 10 to $10.49 for 50. They’ve even got hot mini hash browns which come in a bag for 99 cents – a nice salty snack to contrast the sweets.
DD’s coffee is good, but these coffee cake muffins are the real MVP. Super moist and quite big for their $2.79 price point. I love the cinnamony crumble topping.
I’ll let you in on a little secret that Casie Bui from Aloha Petroleum shared with me. The coffee cake muffin ($2.79) is seriously so good. Moist to the bite, full of cinnamon and vanilla and topped with a crispy, sugary cinnamon crumble – it’s just what you want with a hot cuppa coffee.
Having Dunkin’ back in Hawaii is very nostalgic. While it isn’t the best donut around, DD has no shortage of memories that seemed innocuous at the time, but resonate now. To me, that is more than most brands could ask for: ingrained forever in times of good, times of need, times of amazement.
Do you have a Dunkin’ Donuts memory? Share them on Facebook and do-nut forget to tag us.
3270 Ualena St.
Airport industrial area