The Rivalry of Dunkin Donuts and Mister Donut

September 28, 2022
Written by:
Chris Garin

How the rivalry began

There’s some bad blood rivalry between the two donut chains.

William Rosenberg brought in his brother-in-law Harry Winokur to help him grow Dunkin Donuts. The brand was still growing and didn’t really have a competitor that rivaled its size yet.

Krispy Kreme was already around since 1937 (Dunkin opened in the 1948/1950) but hasn’t really grown to the size it’s in until later.

Rosenberg wanted to grow Dunkin Donuts even faster, and he wanted to use the franchising model to expedite this. Winokur didn’t want to take this route. One disagreement led to another, and this led to their relationship falling apart.

They dissolved their partnership, and then Winokur decided to launch his own donuts and coffee restaurant chain — Mister Donut.

The two brands would battle it out, but Dunkin Donuts was just on another level. By 1963, Dunkin opened its 100th store. In the US, Dunkin Donuts was simply crushing Mister Donut. Mister Donut would reach a peak of only around 250 branches in the US.

But in Japan, it’s a different story.

The rivalry reaches Japan

Dunkin Donuts opened its first location overseas, in Japan in 1970. A year later, Mister Donut did the same. But Japan has been loving Mister Donut more than Dunkin.

In fact, Mister Donut is the third most popular fast-food chain in Japan, just behind McDonald’s. While Dunkin Donuts, left Japan in 1998, after 28 years of being there, all due to declining sales.

It doesn’t matter as much for Dunkin Donuts because, in the US, it’s dominating. In fact, it did so well that it got acquired. William Rosenberg sold Dunkin’ Donuts to a British company, Allied-Lyon, a group that owned a portfolio of food companies.

The figure was around $196 million pounds sterling. Applying inflation, and converting it to US dollars today, that’s around 566 million USD.

After acquiring Dunkin, they immediately acquired its closest rival — Mister Donut. All of Mister Donuts 250 locations in the US were then either shut down or converted into a Dunkin location.

Today, there’s is only one existing Mister Donut branch in the whole of the US.
Allied-Lyon is also the owner of Baskin-Robbins a chain ice-cream and cake restaurant in the US. When Allied-Lyon acquired Dunkin, they then put Baskin-Robbins under Dunkin Brands, which comprised the two.

In 2005, Dunkin’ Brands was acquired for $2.4 billion by a private equity consortium of Bain Capital, the Carlyle Group, and Thomas H. Lee Partners, and these are the current owners of Dunkin Donuts.

So yeah, that’s where Dunkin’ and Mister Donut are today.

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