It's Dunkin' Donuts vs. Krispy Kreme

Dunkin' rules in the Northeast. But now it's bringing its morning treats to the South - straight into country where folks already have a favorite.

Published November 14, 2006

FRANKLIN, Tenn. - When asked how he got his Dunkin' Donuts store, Joe Rando holds up the afternoon cup of coffee he's just poured for himself.

"Lifelong Dunkin' fanatic," he said.

When the Maine native moved south with his former company to the Nashville area a couple of years ago, he found he had to do without his favorite treat.

"I sort of woke up one morning and said, 'There aren't any Dunkin' Donuts here. Why is that?' So I made a phone call," Rando said.

From its first store in Quincy, Mass., Dunkin' Donuts has become the quintessential Northeastern doughnut shop, with working-class credentials and obsessive customers.

But now the Canton, Mass., chain plans to expand south and west across the country, but will Southerners, with their long-standing love of Krispy Kreme's sugar-glaze, find room for another doughnut?

Dunkin' Donuts has about 4,400 stores in 36 U.S. states, but most are in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic region.

Company executives hope to triple the number of U.S. stores by 2020.

Parent Dunkin' Brands Inc. is invading the South with a different sort of doughnut - thicker and cakier than the traditional Southern treat from Krispy Kreme, which is lighter, sugar-glazed and served hot.

Stan Parker, senior vice president of marketing for Krispy Kreme, said many Southerners have grown up with their doughnuts and think of a trip to Krispy Kreme as more than just breakfast or a snack.

"For many people, Krispy Kreme has been part of their lives for a long time," he said.

Josh Owens, an equity analyst who follows the restaurant industry for Morningstar in Chicago, said Krispy Kreme is a relatively small chain compared to Dunkin'.

"Dunkin' Donuts has a reasonably strong brand. It's a brand a lot of people are familiar with," he said.