Ron Rosenbaum

An Ode to the Dunkin Donuts Coffee Roll

So I’ve been on book tour all this week for %%AMAZON=0375503390 The Shakespeare Wars%%, whose jacket cover you might notice inconspicously placed inthe left hand column, which explains sparse blogging, and there are many things I’d like to extol about the experience–which is all too often the subject of writers’ bitter laments (Oh how terrible it is that I’m being flown around to hear appreciative audiences listen to me talk about my book! I have to stay in hotel rooms like ordinary travelling salesmen! Some radio show hosts haven’t read every single precious word in the book! Sometimes I have to get up early! Really there should be an anthology of pampered authors’ cries of anguish about alleged book-tour torture).

Nonetheless there is one thing I realized I missed about New York City on the road. This occurred to me after I’d taken a crop duster night flight from Boston to Albany where I was to spend a day speaking at the great novelist William Kennedy’s New York State Writers Institute. They had put me up in a Courtyard Mariott right across from the campus. No complaints there, I love motels, and I especially love experiencing the little differentials between motel chains. But as one of my hosts, Langdon Brown, an extremely smart theater director swung into the Mariott’s parking lot, I was a bit tired from dusting all those crops, but I perked up when I noticed that next door to the motel was–be still my heart!–a Dunkin Donuts.

Now I have to say that this may not represent the same thrill to you that it did to me. But back in New York City I live right across the street from an all-night Double D and it is part of the joy I find in regularly getting up really early in the morning (often before 5 a.m. when I do my best writing) that I know I will only have to stumble across the street to get my hands on some fresh harsh coffee and the relatively new DD pastry/crack, the “coffee roll.”

I’m not sure how new a DD innovation the coffee roll is. I only discovered it a couple of years ago. Let’s get this straight: it’s NOT a donut. I’m not a super-big fan of donuts. It hath no holes. It’s more like a glazed flying saucer shaped circualr spiral of sugar and cake. Insanely non nutritive, but better than any donut for dunking in hot fresh coffee and achieving the perfect synergy of sugar and caffeine that I believe my brain is hard wired to begin the morning on. Oh sure I still will sometimes follow it up a little later in the day with another form of food-threat full breakfast of eggs, bacon and hashbrowns at the legendary Veselka’s the downtown all night mecca (Second Ave and 9th Streeet).Or, depending on the time of day, at Penelope’s the cheery nearby new agey, emo-iPod, breakfast nook on Lexington and 30th St. (Yes, I believe in front loading my food consumption and surprizingly my weight is within normal range–not despite, but because, of the front loading which leads to a later tapering off).

But really the day doesn’t start with the same excited rush if I don’t have my DD “coffee roll”. What is it about his pastry? Perhaps it’s the subtle swirls of cinnamon sugar syrup sneakily insinuated into the interior spirals of the flying saucer swirls of glazed cake. I do find that the addition of cinnamon to the combination of sugar and caffeine raises the brain cell synergy a quantum level.

But here’s the troubling part: the next morning as I stumbled out into the chilly Albany darkness hoping to jet-fuel myself with a DD coffee roll, for the three speaking engagements and one NPR appearance of the day, I discovered that this DD did NOT OFFER COFFEE ROLLS.

Instead there was just the usual selection of various glazed and sprinkled holey confections that had little appeal for me. I settled for an “old fashioned” and it helped, but the sense of deprivation was palpable with each unsatisfying dunk.

This suggests to me the difficult-to-contemplate possiblity that the coffee roll is still in a testing phase and has yet to be unleashed on the rest of the nation as a permanent DD staple. Perhaps the DD exectives feel that it will wipe out the conventional donut trade.Or that it’s just too powerful for not-already-jazzed-up non-New Yorkers. I find this very worrying, because if it doesn’t fly in the flyover, it might mean they’ll take it off the shelf in the Big City.

Please don’t let this happen. If you have coffee rolls in your local DD’s and you haven’t tried one, buy two. If you don’t have them, ask for the maanger and say you read about them and you want them. Make sure to check back. Write or call the company. Don’t let one of life’s little pleasures disappear without a fight.